Birthday Dreams: Alt Version
A BMT Mixtape for My Sister
An obvious thread throughout today’s mixtape: dreams!
Inspired by my sister’s birthday, I landed on some favorite songs from the 80’s alternative scene delivering a version of dreams. As always a spectrum of tunes, though — some upbeat picks and gloomier songs, too. Something for everyone!
Wishing you a very happy birthday, Frib!
I couldn’t resist choosing another OMD song for my sister’s musical birthday dedication this year!
Shimmery, melodic, and one of their most musically upbeat offerings, “Dreaming” is deceptive.
She left him, but can he convince her to give him a second chance?
Who could turn her back on 80’s heartthrobs Andy and Paul? Puh-lease!
I missed finally seeing Paul Young perform a few weeks ago. Ah, well!
He has some of the best covers, including Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”
Paul Carrack provides some lovely back-up singing and the entire band shines.
Paul Young honors the original material but mixes things up just enough to make this unique. And, oh those lyrics!
“And I’m counting the steps to the door of your heart” Swoon!
Unsurprisingly I prefer Morten Harket’s angelic vocal of John Lennon’s “#9 Deam” to the original.
This feels like a perfect blend of a-ha and John Lennon. In other words: listen stat if you’ve missed this one!
From the final Smiths’ release (in 1987, of course), one of my all time faves by these alternative giants. A lucky LIVE find, no less!
Leave it to me to pick the most bombastic, intense, melancholy, sweeping song from this release (and, really, just about any of their releases).
I am SUCH an ardent fan of Johnny Marr, but this wreaks of Morrissey far more than Johnny.
By this point, they were quite at odds of one another. Somehow it works on this album, but ultimately it is our enduring loss that they just couldn’t carry on.
In any case, “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” is as Morrissey as it gets — an utterly devastating delivery.
Maybe what has always drawn me to this song is the fact that it should be heartbreaking and depressing (like, say, “Asleep”), but there’s a touch of something here — something glorious and majestic, maybe a hint of hope — that makes it a very special Smiths’ offering.
Regardless, I wouldn’t change a second…from the nightmarish beginning to Morrissey’s near sigh as he sings some of those final words to Johnny’s lush ending.
Depeche Mode got a little lost after Alan Wilder left. This was during that era, but “Dream On” serves as proof that they still had their trademark sexy alternative rock pulsing through their veins.
And, of course, eventually the trio would come roaring back with Playing the Angel (and beyond).
It’s easy to overlook this one, but the guitar, the slinking beat, and David Gahan’s vocal are worthy of a re-visit.
I couldn’t resist tossing in “Dream Attack” by New Order, which I covered previously. I’m including my original thoughts in case you missed that story:
I’m not sure who was in charge of choosing the order of the songs (and maybe it’s a moot point these days), but I LOVE that “Dream Attack” was selected to be the final musical note to Technique.
“Dream Attack” isn’t an exclamation point; rather it’s a sublime fade out.
The audio is a little warbly, so I was skeptical about sharing this particular version. But around 1:50 I found myself smiling. The audio remains a bit problematic but I stopped caring because the musicianship shifts and only continues to improve from that point on.
I realized I was beaming by the 3 minute mark. The last minute is (almost) EXACTLY what any New Order fan hopes for: the glorious, exuberant but ever-so-slightly melancholy undercurrent jam session that honors the studio version. My only complaint is it’s too short!
Other musings: Raise your hand if you thought Sammy Hagar had wandered onto the stage? Bernard’s shorts are hilarious! Hooky is really putting on a show, isn’t he? The unsung hero: Stephen’s drumming is as solid as ever!
Revered by Martin Gore and U2, but mostly unknown by everyone else, the Comsat Angels are a BMT favorite band. The Comsat Angels are yet another band out of Sheffield — some of the greatest alternative bands hail from that pocket of England.
I found this live performance of “Flying Dreams,” which captures the band’s raw energy. I’m feeling an early alt-rock vibe (a la Fixx or Flock of Seagulls) on this take.
Steady, unrelenting drumming, solid keyboards, and a strong but forlorn vocal by lead singer Stephen Fellows creates a mysterious, ominous mood.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also like:
OMD: My Sister’s Birthday Dedication, the 80s, and Unlikely Boy Bands
My sister’s birthday serves as inspiration for today’s pick. In the late 80s, my younger sister (by 21 months) listened…
Thank you for reading this story
I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. You using your time to read my work means the world to me — my sincerest thanks!
If you liked this story, please press the 👏 applause button as generously as you feel called (Medium allows up to 50 claps)! It will help other people find my work.