It's Labor Day here in America and some of you have the day off from work, which apparently has nothing to do with the origins and original intentions of the holiday. Some of you - like my better half - are enjoying a four-day weekend, which is rare and highly prized among the employed. After grilling for my girl and tucking her in for the night last night, I pulled out the box of mixtapes I made expressly for her during our courtship, circa 1983-1987. Looks like last time out, we listened to mixtape Z so today we're featuring mixtape AA.
Like the majority of the tapes I made her, there are no songs or artists listed on the J card and I didn't even bother labeling the tape itself, preferring to etch the letters into the plastic. On this particular tape, I etched AA twice.
For some reason, I just blew on the cassette like it was a Nintendo cartridge before I popped it in the player. Let's press PLAY and hear what we hear!
- Wow! Aretha's "Freeway Of Love" and it sounds like the 45 version, which I may have borrowed to make the tape. According to this entry over at 1985: A Vinyl Odyssey, I received the Who's Zooming Who album as part of an order from Columbia House that was delivered on November 12, 1985. What are the chances that this week's mixtape would start with a song from the Queen Of Soul?
- Next up is Prince counting it off for Sheila E.'s "Holly Rock" from the soundtrack to Krush Groove. My girl really liked Sheila's rap and it had Prince on it so who was I not to like it. This is definitely the LP version which runs about a minute longer than the 45.
- The third track is probably the only Melissa Manchester track I enjoy listening to, "You Should Hear How She Talks About You". I had picked up the Hey Ricky! album back in May 1985 because it was on sale I believe. Does anyone else sense a theme for the tape yet?
- Missing Persons and "Destination Unknown" are track four. Like the Manchester track above, "Destination Unknown" is from 1982, the single greatest year in music history.
- The shorter version of "Never Say Never" from Romeo Void's Benefactor album follows, keeping the 1982 vibe going.
- The Klymaxx album was also part of the same order as the Aretha Franklin album featured up above. The first track on side two of Meeting In The Ladies Room is "Meeting In The Ladies Room" and it is track 6 on mixtape AA.
- Another interesting coincidence is the seventh song on this tape, "Cold Love" by Donna Summer which I think is one of the "three hard-to-find hits" my friend William mentioned in his post earlier today. (He also gave a shout out to my friend Mark and his MegaList™) "Cold Love" is from The Wanderer album, released in 1980, and ranks as one of my favorite Donna Summer tracks though this tape isn't about what I like it seems; I'm going to hazard a guess midway through Side A and say all the songs are sung by women. What say you?
- Took me to the chorus of the next song before recognition set in but it's Debbie Harry's 'Feel The Spin", also from Krush Groove soundtrack. She's a talented woman, did some amazing work with her Blondie cohorts but none of her solo stuff resonates with me.
- Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders come rocking in with "Message Of Love" as track number 9 of mixtape AA. LOVE this track. Going to rewind it and listen to it at least once more before continuing. Have to pull out Pretenders II and listen to it this week.
- For track 10, we return to the Klymaxx album Meeting In The Ladies Room and all seven-plus minutes of "The Men All Pause".
- Donna Summer returns with "Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger But The Safety Is On)", another song from 1982. About a minute into the track, the tape auto reverses and the song continues. Either it was poor planning on my part or I was finally taking advantage of the freedom that Auto Reverse recording allows. Probably the former.
- After the Donna Summer track played out on Side B, the second track was "Because The Night" from the Patti Smith Group. The all-female voices theme is holding true though we may be witnessing a tempo change from upbeat to downbeat.
- "Missing You", Diana Ross's moving tribute to Marvin Gaye is the third song on the second side of AA. I had purchased the album Swept Away on August 17, 1985, for just $1.99 from RCA Music Service.
- Whitney Houston and "Saving All My Love For You" follow. Whitney's self-titled debut album was another part of the Columbia House order that brought me Meeting In The Ladies Room and Who's Zoomin' Who?
- My girl LOVED Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual album and her favorite tracks on the album were the ballads "Time After Time" and the song here on the tape, "All Through The Night".
- "Only You" was a favorite for both of us as were Yaz's two albums, 1982's Upstairs At Eric's and 1983's You And Me Both. The song fits well with the previous track.
- Chaka Khan keeps the side going with "Through The Fire", the third single from her 1984 album, I Feel For You. I'm actually a little relieved I didn't go with "(Krush Groove) Can't Stop The Street" and throw yet another track from that album on AA. Or did I speak too soon?
- Only their biggest fans know that Captain & Tennille's "The Way That I Want To Touch You", the next song on the tape, was their initial single and was released both before and after their big single "Love Will Keep Us Together".
- Irene Cara starred in 1980's Fame and landed three tracks on the accompanying soundtrack album. The next song on the tape is the only ballad of the three, "Out Here On My Own".
- Whitney returns with the first track on her self-titled debut album, "You Give Good Love".
- Her beautiful cover of "O-o-h Child" finds Valerie Carter as the eleventh track on Side B. Used to great effect over the closing credits of the film Over The Edge and would have been the perfect way to close out the tape.
- But it was not meant to be. This single version of Dionne Warwick's 1979 hit "Deja Vu" was no doubt dubbed from the album Arista's Greatest R&B Hits, which I picked up from Hollywood Records on November 12, 1985.
So AA turned out to be an all-female celebration with 11 upbeat songs on Side A and 11 slower songs on Side B. And it's the first tape in the legendary alphabetical series to feature Auto Reverse recording. My only regret is that I did not wait to listen to the tape while my baby was awake so she could have provided her own commentary. Maybe next time. Mixtape BB is on deck.