Generally, we don’t tend to get really personal with our Mix Disc Mondays, but I’m going out on a limb here because A) my friend Christine is making a cross-country move which she hopes will lead to a “happily ever after” ending for her, and you need a really good soundtrack for a drive from Florida to California, and B) there are only, like, a billion chicks out there with the same name, so it’s not like she’s the only one who’ll get a kick out of a compilation containing nothing but “Christine” songs. Plus, when you come right down to it, this is a damned fine mix disc, no matter what your name is.
“Meet Christine,” Elton John (The Muse: Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) – Yeah, okay, you’re thinking it’s mostly just here because it’s the perfect title with which to start a Christine-themed disc. When you listen to it, though, you’ll find that it starts out with a jaunty little bit of orchestration before swelling to a huge choral finale so impressive that you’re left wondering if the rest of the mix can possibly live up to it. (You’re not the only one, either…but, by God, I’ll give it my best shot.)
“Christine Bactine,” the Mr. T. Experience (Milk Milk Lemonade) – These guys probably still don’t understand why Green Day made it big and they didn’t -- and based on this album, I don’t really understand it, either. Admittedly, the only reason I picked it up in the first place was because they did a cover of the Smiths’ “What Difference Does It Make,” but I stayed for the band’s catchy-as-hell punk-pop originals. Oh well. At least the band’s lead singer, Frank Portman, now has a literary career to fall back on.
“Pristine Christine,” the Sea Urchins (CD86) – During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the UK was a hotbed for musical movements that only impressed the readers of New Musical Express, but since I was one of those poor pale young individuals, I absolutely ate up the so-called C86 sound, which involved jangly, Byrds-influenced guitars and more bounce to the ounce than your average pop song. The Sea Urchins were one of the early stars of one of the genre’s leading labels, Sarah Records -- and by “early,” we mean that this song served as the Sarah’s very first single. A fine beginning, indeed (well, except for that really weird bit at the 1:41 mark. That still drives me nuts).
“Christine,” Siouxsie and the Banshees (Kaleidoscope) – Anyone who doesn’t think of the Banshees as a psychedelic band needs to check out this track. According to the song’s chorus, Christine is both the strawberry girl and the banana split lady, with one of the verses offering the utterly inexplicable line, “This big-eyed girl sees her faces unfurl / Now she’s in purple, now she’s the turtle.” Riiiiiiight.
“Christine’s Tune,” the Flying Burrito Brothers (Sin City: The Very Best of the Flying Burrito Brothers) – Years before I got around to investigating Gram Parson’s critically-acclaimed solo albums, I picked up a copy of this cassette of his first post-Byrds band in a cutout bin and leapt headlong into the country-rock sounds it contained. I didn’t fall in love with it right away – I’m pretty sure I was deep in the heart of my power-pop phase at the time – but, thankfully, it was only a few years later that I finally discovered its charms.
“Christine,” the Monochrome Set (Charade) – You can only hear a band compared to XTC so many times before you finally have to take the plunge and pick up one of their albums. In the case of the Set, the best bet is probably Compendium – A History, 1979 – 1995, which covers not only their ‘80s heyday but also their 1993 reunion album, Charade, from which this very Kinks-y song is taken.
“Li’l Christine,” Material Issue (International Pop Overthrow) – The album that gave a traveling music festival its name and, in a decidedly less heralded turn of events, set a twentysomething guy in Virginia on the path to discover all the wonders that the power-pop genre had to offer. Jim Ellison, I will never forgive you for checking out early.
“Christine,” the House of Love (The House of Love) – It’s funny to think that these guys started on a slightly feedback-laden musical path not so dissimilar to that of their Creation Records brethren, the Jesus and Mary Chain. (You can hear a little of the fuzz on this very track.) It wasn’t long, however, before they were stepping into the more traditional pop territory of “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” and “The Beatles and the Stones.” Guy Chadwick released a nice solo album a few years ago, but his greatest musical legacy remains in this House.
“Christine,” Luscious Jackson (Electric Honey) – I’m actually a very recent convert to this band’s camp, having gotten so quickly burned out on their lone Top 40 hit, “Naked Eye,” that I was convinced that I never, ever needed to hear anything by them ever again. I was turned around when I scored a copy of their greatest hits, but now I feel guilty about having written them off so quickly, so I’d like to think the inclusion of this song is some sort of penance.
“Christine,” James Cooper (Second Season) – I owe my discovery of this guy to the fine folks at the Paisley Pop label, who often seem to know my tastes even better than I do. At the time of its release, I described it as “a really nicely produced pop disc that’s chock full of hooks and melodies, all layered with a variety of instrumentation,” making comparisons to Tom Petty, Matthew Sweet, and Paul Kelly. It’s been a couple of years since Cooper’s released a new album, but I’ve just learned that, as of this writing, he’s got two new songs which have been mixed by Michael Carpenter and will be ready for release in the new future, along with a new full-length scheduled for sometime in 2008.
“Christine,” Starlet (When Sun Falls On My Feet) – Further proof – as if you needed any more – that the water in Sweden has been heavily dosed with a chemical which inspires the writing of insidiously catchy pop music.
“Dear Christine,” Klaatu (Sir Army Suit) – Like so many others, my first knowledge of this band came within the context of their debut album…or, more specifically, how the rumor ran rampant at the time that it was actually a new Beatles album, recorded by the Fab Four under a pseudonym. (Spoiler: it wasn’t.) Klaatu knew their way around a pop hook, though, so if you ever spot a copy of their single-disc best of, Peaks, you’d be well advised to pick it up.
“Christine,” Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (Liberator) – I don’t think anyone would go out on a limb and suggest that Liberator was any sort of creative peak for OMD, especially since Paul Humphreys had bailed out of the band by this point. Personally, I always liked the record; “Stand Above Me” was a great single, and there was something perversely inspired about adapting a Barry White number (“Love’s Theme”) and making it into a synth-pop song. I had forgotten, however, just how depressing the lyrics to this particular track were: “And slowly down the river / The current pulls her under / And it bathes her in it’s splendor / Is unmoved by her surrender / And faint through the water / The lights like brittle stars / Someone called her name out / She no longer hears the cars.” Criminey!
“Christine,” Monsters Are Waiting (Fascination) – I might be one of the last people to discover this band, since their song “Time” was spotlighted in an episode of “One Tree Hill” in April 2006, which no doubt led to them being selected as Spin’s Artist of the Day a few months later. Imagine Stellastarr* with a female lead singer, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this song sounds like.
“Oh Christine,” the Greenberry Woods (Rapple Dapple) – This is one of my favorite albums of the ‘90s, but, conveniently, it also leads directly into one of my fondest memories of the Christine who inspired this mix. She and I and a bunch of our friends went to see the band in concert at the Nsect Club, in Newport News, VA, and, well, she was rather smitten with the boys in the band, so she felt obliged to mention to them that her name was not only Christine, as in “Oh Christine,” but Christine Dawn, as in “Waiting for Dawn,” another song on Rapple Dapple. They nodded politely, she walked away feeling like a complete geek, and I’m pretty sure she’s still embarrassed about it to this day…so, obviously, I had to mention it here.
“Christine Sixteen,” Kiss (Love Gun) – What, like I was going to finish a sixteen-track mix about girls named Christine with any other song? Get real.