We Are Family: Brothers Edition

Rich and Chris Robinson looking grim (but they sure make awesome music)

I can’t believe I’ve never done a mixtape with this theme before!

I have to give a shout-out to my pal, Iva Ursano! Her latest story inspired today’s mixtape!

I decided to create two separate volumes. This first volume features brothers while my second installment will highlight sisters and other family configurations.

Some of these brothers are known for melodramatic brooding and angst. Others are the epitome of brotherly love. Either way, they sure make memorable music!

The moody Reid Brothers (aka The Jesus & Mary Chain) delivered hazy, electric, edgy alt-rock on Automatic. It remains one of the best albums of 1989.

Although heavily influenced by the Ramones, I have always preferred the sexified distorted sound that Jim and William uniquely create.

Between Jim’s sultry, confident vocal and that pulsating beat, “Between Planets” drives me crazy all these years later.

Listening to this takes me back to hanging out with lean guys who wear black, have cool asymmetrical haircuts, and are likely to have a skateboard, soccer ball, and/or a tape of the Violent Femmes handy.

As much as I like the original “Pretty in Pink,” I think my very favorite Psychedelic Furs’ song is “Heartbreak Beat.”

Richard Butler delivers a sexy vocal that is relaxed yet passionate. The video and song channel the very best of the 80’s alt scene as it collided with the charts. A well-deserved crossover hit in 1987 for the Furs.

This video is part of the gorgeous black-and-white heydey of 80’s videos. (Love & Rockets’ “So Alive,” INXS’s moody faded-out “Never Tear Us Apart,” and most of Depeche Mode’s videos from that era have all held up well.)

Richard may have fronted the band, but brother Tim and fellow band member John Ashton (plus alternating line up members) helped craft many iconic 80’s alt songs and lyrics.

Oh, those feisty Gallagher brothers! I’m no fair-weather fan. I dig Oasis’ quintessential mid-90’s Britpop material as well as their tunes from this century.

I visited Liam Gallagher’s shop, Pretty Green, in Manchester. And I’ve declared Noel Gallagher a legend!

Speaking of which, “Rock ‘n Roll Star” seems apropos, no?

This is my favorite Jackson 5 song, so I’ve played it LOTS. But I had never seen this live performance before today.

I actually got chills. The studio version of “I Wanna Be Where You Are” is really pretty and poignant, so I was not expecting THIS.

The bass is f-u-n-k-y! Michael struts and prances. While I’ve always found MJ very talented, I’ve never thought of him as sexy.

But there is a different energy on this performance. His confidence is addictive and attractive.

And the music is solid! In fact, it cuts off too abruptly for me. I would have been thrilled to hear another minute of a funkified, dance-infused jam session with Michael Jackson winging it.

A missed opportunity but I remain grateful that this fantastic live performance was captured for us to enjoy all these decades later.

In the very early 90’s no one was making music like the Black Crowes. It felt familiar and fresh at the same time.

The raw, bluesy sound crafted by brothers Rich and Chris along with the rest of the band channels a hybrid of the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

This MTV performance was from the sober (or at least sober-enough) early days of the Black Crowes. By the time I saw them (just 6 months or so later), their bad habits were already impacting their live performances.

This stripped down version of “Jealous Again” shines! Solid back-up singing by Johnny Colt adds to its success.

The Robinson Brothers fighting only adds to their mystique!

I’ve written about my horrifying realization, that I’m a Hanson fan, elsewhere. I did not like them in the 90’s.

It was their cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine” that won me over. I dug into their musical vault and realized that I liked several of their songs.

I even saw them live in Austin a couple of years ago. They sounded great, but their fans are the most obnoxious I’ve ever encountered. Their fans leap past exuberant into annoying, pushy, and lacking in any concept of space or self-awareness. I will give them this: they are loyal!

Weird” is one of Hanson’s earliest songs, written when they were so young. The melody is pretty and sad (my favorite pairing) while Taylor’s piano-playing is understated loveliness. This ballad holds up surprisingly well.

I prefer Crowded House to Split Enz, but wanted to keep an open mind about selecting a song by the Finn Brothers, Tim and Neil.

Fairly quickly I stumbled upon “I Hope I Never.” I actually audibly said “Wow” as the song ended!

It falls between the theatrical feel of 70’s Roxy Music and chic Spandeau Ballet of the early 80's.

It’s VERY dramatic, moody, and tragic. A quirky, delicate, and original tune from the new-wave scene.

You know I’m all about harmonies! I’m a big Bee Gees fan — I love it all: the disco, the 60’s Beatles-inspired sound, and 1997’s gorgeous “Alone” from Still Waters.

In fact, while I was touring the haunts of the 80’s alternative music giants in Manchester this past July, my tour guide surprised me by swinging past the home the Bee Gees were raised in. (I knew they were originally from England, but didn’t realize it was Manchester.) Barry still owns the house!

I intentionally chose “Run to Me” rather than their better known disco hits. That delicate beginning builds to an emotional climax. This song has some of the finest harmonies found in the entire Bee Gees catalog.

If I’m going to talk about harmonies…the masters!

Please Let Me Wonder” is one of the Beach Boys lesser known songs. It’s exquisite. The melody and harmonies make me want to weep. So gorgeous!

Brothers Carl and Dennis along with cousin Mike Love (and Al Jardine) created magic under the leadership of Brian Wilson. Their musical legacy is one of America’s finest!

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Bonnie Barton

Bonnie Barton

Queen of mixtapes. Lover of music, travel, and fashion. Authentic sharer of life lessons and dating foibles.