By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
We have way more music than you think we did at the end of 1999. Really. Because you haven't found much proof, you're probably thinking that 1999 was the center of some sort of Dark Age. It wasn't. It was more like the Dim Age. The music we created just, uh, heh heh, disappeared. See, we had these plastic things called compact discs -- you no doubt have found millions of them lying around but are flummoxed by their mystery. They contained music, but, uh, the information on them was a few unnecessary steps removed from actual music itself -- wasn't really on them -- so it all kind of vanished. The CD was the predominant storage system for music, and the millions of hours' worth of music consumed on the format just sort of faded away. Doh! Why we ever thought we needed a storage system "better" than analog LPs is one of the tragedies of the latter portion of 20th century.
You've no doubt discovered countless record geeks' collections by now, so you know the basics. Below is a pile of one-off LPs we pressed from copies of CDs to ensure that you get a chance to hear a representative sampling of the years 1987-99. These may have slipped beneath your radar.
Possessed by the Balanescu Quartet. We thought it'd be historically helpful for you to hear the first string quartet to adapt the computer music of Kraftwerk. This may surprise you, but Kraftwerk was originally considered a sort of novelty. The Balanescu Quartet were the first "classicists" to take the group seriously. (Afrika Bambaata wasn't the subject of academic scholarship until much, much later.)
"Baby I Love Your Way/Free Bird" by Will to Power. The revolutionary work that combined the teachings of early-20th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche with those of late-century philosophers Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Translator Will T. Power was the first to inject Superman with both a compassionate heart and a restless spirit, which ultimately rendered the effects of kryptonite moot.
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin. Predating computer viruses by a decade, this insidious musical virus operated much the same way: It planted itself inside the brain of every living human being in 1988 and was then forgotten. It didn't actually activate itself until 2003. The horror! The horror!
The Charm of the Highway Strip by the Magnetic Fields. Luckily, the Smithsonian Institution had the foresight to carve the entire works of Stephin Merritt (a.k.a. Magnetic Fields) into a stone buried deep beneath the building, so you no doubt know him. This is just a gift to you, because even though the music is injected into everyone's bloodstream when he or she is born, when's the last time you listened to it?
Björk. The Icelandic princess you've constructed an entire mythology around was an actual person, and she sang. She roamed the earth creating joy. She was an angel. She was everything you imagined her to be and so much more. This is our gift to you: Beauty.
"All for Love" by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting. Funny, three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were right under our noses and we didn't even know it! Duh. This is their little rationalization, created six years before the Cleanup. The fourth, Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, didn't arrive until 1998. Boy oh boy did he do some damage.
The Specials by the Specials. Yeah, you're diggin' 12,332nd-wave ska. This is second-wave ska. After this, it all went downhill until the 554th wave, which, as you know, changed everything.
Funhouse by the Stooges. Another gift to you: Proof that we rocked. Proof that we understood and appreciated glory and that we were able to reconcile humanity and unfettered animal instincts. You're robots. We were animals.
Lord Randall Roberts
King of Benton Park, U.S.A.
Dec. 29, 1999