Dizzy Heights #66: Great Scots

The ‘song title’ thing was painting me into a corner. I needed a new angle, and despite doing a show about cities around the world, I didn’t have the idea to do geographically specific shows until about 18 months later. Sometimes it just takes that long for my brain to make the connection. Zzzzzt.

I started with Scotland for two reasons. One, I’ve somehow managed to interview a fair number of Scottish musicians (all of whom are in this show), and on top of that, it’s the strongest bloodline in my wife’s family, so we’re always talking up Scotland around the house. Once I discovered how many Scottish singers fronted non-Scottish bands, this show practically put itself together. And I have more than enough bands for a second volume, someday. This has been quite the educational experience.

Thank you, as always, for listening. Dizzy Heights is taking the rest of the year off, and will resume in January. Have courage and be kind, people.

Note: I mentioned that a band had six Top 10 singles from one album. They had six Top 40 singles. I regret the error. I also didn’t mention the Soup Dragons by name. I regret that, too.

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Dizzy Heights #65: Certain for the Very Last Time: Flashback Chill Mix, 11/25/95

Here’s where I take that good will I earned over the past four weeks and throw it out the window with a chill mix. Having fun yet?

This is a digital recreation of a mix tape I made in late 1995 (Maxell XL II 100, if you’re curious). Those who read my Mope Like Me column on Popdose will not be surprised to hear that four of the songs that I covered can be found here. Mixing this again, I was instantly transported back to that winter in Chicago, which was bittersweet to be sure. There are some bands here that I’ve since left behind (BNL, DMB, CTD), but it’s really nice to hear a lot of these songs after not playing some of them for decades. Decades. My god.

Thank you, as always, for listening. One more show after this and then Dizzy Heights is taking the rest of the year off. Cheers!

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Dizzy Heights #64: ‘90s UK Alternative, Part III: The Pop Mix

We bring the ‘90s UK Alternative series to an end with, in a twist, the bands that had the most success on the charts. Several acts here – if not these songs, though most of these songs fared well – hit Number One, and strangely enough, some of these songs fared better on the US charts than they did on the UK charts. Del Amitri and White Town, we’re looking in your direction.

This series was such fun to put together, and I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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Dizzy Heights #63: ’90s UK Alernative, Part II: The Dance Mix

For the record no, it is not lost on me that my show about UK music opens with artists from Ireland and Germany.

This is not the first time that I’ve ventured in these waters. In early 2011 I put together a 1991 beat mix for Popdose, and in the interest of full disclosure, I lifted a three-song set wholesale from that mix, along with two other songs. I also play a song that I just played two months ago. I try to avoid that when I can, but it just belonged here.

When I was working in the clubs, well, most of these songs didn’t exist yet, but even if they had, I was working in pop clubs that only dabbled in alternative, so I would have been fired on the spot for doing a set like this. Putting this show together wasn’t just fun; it was cathartic.

Coming up next: ‘90s UK Alternative, Part III: The Pop Mix. That might sound like a contradiction in terms, but I promise you, it’s not. What is alternative, after all, if not unpopular pop? You think these bands wanted to be cult bands? They didn’t. They all wanted to be superstars.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

Oh, and as a bonus for hitting my little site, this show will be temporarily available to download here. Get it while you can. This link will not live forever.

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Dizzy Heights #62: ‘90s UK Alternative, Part I: The Rock Mix

When this goes live on Popdose, it will be my mom’s birthday, yay! She would not like this show. 

I wanted to take a break from the title-themed shows, and for whatever reason, UK ‘90s is the first thing that popped into my head. Maybe that’s because most of the shows are inherently UK ‘80s shows, and I wanted to share the wealth, as it were. I say that despite the fact that I’ve already played at least three of these songs in previous shows. Still, eight bands make their debuts here, so…progress?

Oh, and I also voice a thought that will be quite unpopular with nearly anyone who likes this show. Hot take ahoy! Who knows, maybe some of you will agree with me (it comes in the second talkie bit), but I’m guessing most of you won’t, and that’s OK.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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Dizzy Heights #61: ‘Summer’ Songs

I’m going to take a small break from the word-themed shows, but before I do so, I thought, Let’s say goodbye to summer with a show filled with songs about summer.

This started out as a much different show, but once I spotted the alt and alt-adjacent vibe pulsing through it, I took out several well-known acts that no longer fit in. (It also stopped me from adding a brand-new Taylor Swift song at the last minute.) The Kinks, America, Springsteen, and yes, even Seals & Crofts, gone. Was that the right call? That is for you to decide, dear listener, but opening with the Barracudas and the Undertones? I regret nothing.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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Dizzy Heights #60: Run Betsi Run (a 2003 beat mix tape, digitized and expanded)

This post goes live on Popdose on my birthday, yay! So I decided to have some fun.

I wanted to take a break from the themed shows, so I started to look at old cassettes in my collection, with the plan to digitize them. I found a running mix that I made for my sister-in-law Betsi sometime in 2003 – I put Franka Potente from “Run Lola Run” on the cover and everything – and thought, “That’s the one.”

Over two thirds of the songs here came out between 1998 and 2003, though the overall track listing ranges between 1990 and 2005. This might be the ultimate Medsker mix, in that it’s slightly alternative (Chemical Brothers, Underworld), a lot poppy (Simply Red, Madonna), and embarrassingly trendy (Fatboy Slim, The Wiseguys). To quote “The Greatest Showman,” this is me.

And it’s true: I actually remixed the Madonna track, as part of an ACID-sponsored contest. I sent it to a musician in an attempt to persuade him to let me remix one of his songs, and he said, “You are soooo Arthur Baker,” which to this day is still one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t let me remix his song, though.

Thank you, as always, for moving your feet.

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Dizzy Heights #59: A Touch of Tuesday Weld – ‘New’ Songs

New World Man takes his New Girl Now, dolled up in a New Dress, for a ride in a Brand New Cadillac. Aaaaaand that’s the show, simple as that. Songs or artists with the word ‘New’ in the title. I’m not deep.

Most of these shows are pretty easy to put together. This one was like herding cats. A couple song blocks put themselves together, but the others? Chaos. Did I really put the ‘90s ska band next to The Only Band That Matters? Yes. Yes, I did.

There were 10 other songs that were in the mix at some point, and later jettisoned. Like I said, this was an unruly show, but ultimately I think it turned out all right. Individual results, though, may vary.

There are seven artists making their debut this week, but I kinda don’t want to tell you who they are. It would spoil the fun in a big, big way.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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Dizzy Heights #58: Contemplating a Crime – Animals, Vol. I

Fans of classic alternative will (hopefully) find lots to love here, though I do play a couple of songs from the last decade, so this isn’t purely a First Wave lovefest. It’s close, but nothing like Show #57 was.

Honestly, this was one of those show ideas where I just stopped writing song ideas down because I already had so many. I even left out Bowie. BOWIE, PEOPLE.

 The artists making their Dizzy Heights debuts in this show, frankly. Shock me. How on earth have I not played Elastica, or Sweet, or Los Straitjackets, The Pixies (THE PIXIES, PEOPLE), The Blow Monkeys, Don Dixon, Glass Tiger, The Polecats, The Bird and the Bee, or Tame Impala before now? The mind boggles.

Next up: a New show. And yes, the capital N is a clue.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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Movie Review: Toy Story 4

There are few, if any, franchises that have ridden off into the sunset quite like the “Toy Story” films did. “Toy Story 3” has a pitch-perfect, if gut-wrenching, ending, and the characters were the frequent subject of Pixar’s short films, which seemed like an ideal post script. Why would any studio risk, um, sullying that? The cynical response is money (it’s always money), but it’s hard to dismiss Pixar founding father Andrew Stanton’s rationale: “Toy Story 3” was a perfect ending for the audience, but for the toys that Bonnie inherited from Andy, their story was starting all over again, and it is through that lens that Pixar would like us to view “Toy Story 4.” That’s nice, but it’s of small comfort when the feeling of familiarity (toy in distress, Woody to the rescue) quickly consumes everything. This is basically “Toy Story 2” in reverse, with more moving parts.

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