Words by Scott Eastlick, graphic by Rafe Arnott
While I would never downplay the appeal of listening to a great album, I’m not sure there is anything more compelling than hearing the best output from the greatest artists distilled into a single session. Imagine going on a date with someone you’ll eventually fall in love with, and experiencing the best moments you will spend together in a single burst.
For even the best acts of all time, distilling the best of an artist’s catalog into a tight mix is often comprehensive enough that only the most enthusiastic fans need dig deeper. With a group like Can, the act of going through their catalog unassisted can be challenging, with jam sessions that run longer than network sitcoms and flights of experimentation that were maybe best left in the lab. With certain artists, the act of curation becomes more defining. While another DJ could produce a solid house set from Moodyman’s back catalog, presenting him as a funk artist in the vein of Sly Stone and Prince is a choice. As is the decision to present Air as a rock band.
For the artists who have meant the most to me, I have gone through their entire discographies including live tracks, bootlegs, remixes, and interviews, and compiled a series of mostly hour long mixes for those looking for an easy point of entry, or as a celebration for the already initiated.
Four of the 15 artist mixes are featured below, to listen or download all of the 15 separate catalog retrospectives, go to Electric Adolescence.
Introduced to the world with a debut that had him writing, producing, and playing all of the instruments, the bashful seventeen year-old from St. Paul’s became one of few artists to live up to being labeled a prodigy. Each new album was a reinvention: from the flasher sleaze of Dirty Mind, the sexual pageantry of Purple Rain, and the Beatlesesque “Around the World in the Day”, his heyday was as prolific as any artist in history – a fact made more incredible in light of the thousand or so unreleased songs reputedly stored in his infamous vault. As a crash course for the uninitiated, I’ve put together a selection of my favorite of his unreleased songs. Visit the full post here for a chronological mix of album tracks, one of songs written for other artists, and more unreleased content.