Awesome Mixtapes #1 – Propaganda and “Duel”

If it seems I have been largely absent of late, don’t worry, I’m not giving you all the cold shoulder, instead I have a cold shoulder as a result of the ice pack currently attached to it. I don’t know about the rest of you, but too many hours spent in front of a computer really goes for my neck and shoulders. On top of it being gardening season, being busy with changeovers at the holiday hideaway, and a spot of sewing, I am currently in agony. Here is one that was largely already written however, so I’ll try and finish it off before the ice pack melts!

I recently wrote about one of the songs that featured in the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It formed part of the excellent soundtrack which became known as, and was released under the moniker, Awesome Mix Vol. 2. It certainly was an awesome mix of lesser-known 1970s pop hits, all carefully chosen by James Gunn, who directed and wrote the screenplay for the film.

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If like me you were born right at the start of the ’60s, you would have been just the right age for mixtapes, as we became teenagers right at the time those newfangled cassette recorder machines came into our lives. Right through the ’70s, I created many, many mixtapes by recording songs from TOTP and Sunday night’s Official Chart Show, where just before 7pm, we discovered who now held the top spot in the UK Singles Chart.

In time however, as our equipment became more sophisticated, mixtapes were made by selecting our favourite album tracks and tailoring them for specific people. Over the years many mixtapes were exchanged between friends, lovers, or more likely, potential lovers – Of all the ones I received, this one was probably the best. There was also an IC1, an IC3 and an IC4, but IC2 was my favourite, which is why I still own it all these years later despite no longer having anything to play it on. I’m not going to say who IC was, but suffice to say he was a friend with a fantastic record collection who was also a born entertainer. He was one of my first friends to own his own house, and being an excellent cook, many dinner parties were held. This mixtape was made in the autumn of 1986, when for a brief nano-second I think I became part of the city’s “cool” set. It was fun for a short time, but as a naturally “uncool” person, the pressure was on to always wear the right clothes, read the right publications and generally be on point at all times. Luckily, I got a job in another town soon afterwards, so could extricate myself quite easily from this group, clocking it up to a short-lived, but exciting time in my life when I think I did fake it by trying to be someone I was not (wouldn’t ever recommend it).

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Anyway, I am in need of a new series I think as I seem to be jumping all over the place at the moment. As a nod to the GOTG soundtrack, I am going to use this mixtape of my own, and work my way through the tracks from IC’s awesome collection. When I first started seeing Mr WIAA he picked out this tape as one of his favourites and it accompanied us on holidays, on car trips and the like. It was very much from his era as an art student and the tracks reminded him of those days. He has a great fondness for the song Duel by Propaganda, partly because it reminds him so much of how the girls at art school looked in the mid ’80s – The hair, clothes and make-up was on point (unlike when I tried to recreate the look to fit in with my new “cool” friends). So, time to find out a bit more about this band and the song.

Duel by Propaganda:

What I wouldn’t have known back then was that Propaganda are German and were signed to Trevor Horn’s ZTT label between 1984 and 1986, which is when the song Duel was released. It was their highest-charting single in the UK reaching No. 21 in April 1985. Recording music of a synthpop nature they would naturally have found favour with the art school set of the mid ’80s. Lead singer Susanne Freytag certainly did have quite a distinctive look. (If like me however you had poker-straight fine hair back then, the voluminous spikey look was a challenge indeed that required much “product”).

As for the song Duel, the reason I’ve started off with it, is because it is often played in football stadiums ahead of kick-off, where two adversaries are about to challenge each other. It is the song played at the Heart Of Midlothian stadium during home matches and only last weekend they made it to the final of the Scottish Cup at Hampden. Perhaps because they didn’t have the adrenaline rush of coming out to the sound of Duel in familiar surroundings they lost 2-1 to Celtic, after initially being ahead. Earlier this week we had the Europa League final in Baku where Chelsea won the big prize and later on today, we are to have the Champions League final in Madrid. Jez over at Dubious Towers has already written about that match earlier today and will no doubt hope his beloved Spurs will take the crown.

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Propaganda

In news closer to home, it seems DD’s boyfriend is off to join one of the country’s biggest football teams for the new season – We wish him all the best, but as DD (who knows nothing about football) seems to be going with him, it will be a big wrench for our little family. Big changes round the corner but after years of having little interest in all things football-related, suddenly it’s become a pretty big deal.

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So, “What’s It All About?”. I seem to have pulled this one off, despite my sore neck and shoulders. I will be cheering on Spurs tonight in support of Jez who has had a tough time of late and could be doing with a bit of good fortune coming his way. I doubt if we will hear the song Duel as they enter the pitch in Madrid, but good for me to have found out a bit more of the backstory, which just wouldn’t have been possible back in the day. As for the DD footballing story, there will no doubt be more on that over the next few months. Football is not coming home for her, it’s taking her away, but perhaps time to fly the nest – We hope she will soar.

Until next time….

Duel Lyrics
(Song by Claudia Brücken/Ralf Dörper/Michael Mertens)

Eye to eye stand winners and losers
Hurt by envy, cut by greed
Face to face with their own disillusion
The scars of old romances still on their cheeks

And when blow by blow the passion dies
Sweet little death just have been lies
The memories of gone by time
Would still recall the lie

The first cut won’t hurt at all
The second only makes you wonder
The third will have you on your knees
You start bleeding I start screaming

It’s too late the decision is made by fate
Time to prove what forever should last
Whose feelings are so true as to stand the test
Whose demands are so strong as to parry all attempts

And when blow by blow the passion dies
Sweet little death just have been lies
The memories of gone by time
Would still recall the lie

The first cut won’t hurt at all
The second only makes you wonder
The third will have you on your knees
You start bleeding I start screaming

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

20 thoughts on “Awesome Mixtapes #1 – Propaganda and “Duel””

  1. Ah yes, the joy of mixtapes. It really is a lost artform. I’ve thought about doing a similar feature on my own blog, maybe one day.

    Best of luck to DD and her young man… and best of luck to you guys with the adjustment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it is a lost artform as a modern day playlist just can’t be the same – Not tangible for a start and no hand-written track listing. Doesn’t take any time at all to put together either so just not as precious. If you see C’s comment below, it just shows how the perfectly formulated compilation tape could kick start a relationship – Such power.

      Big changes this summer and ones we didn’t see coming but think it will be good for both of them. He’s not a player so she won’t be a WAG (?!) but a new city can lead to all sorts of opportunities, so cross fingers it will work out well. It will be just the two of us though for the first time in a long time – Weird.

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  2. Oh no, a cold shoulder! It’s a horrible thing and I hope it eases very soon. The hazards of modern life… although I guess that every era has its ailments, we could have had housemaid’s knee if we’d been scrubbing steps for the Lord of the Manor (and worse, I imagine)! My ‘artist’s shoulder’ has been a problem for over 3 months now, but my GP’s referral to a physiotherapist has resulted in me being sent a set of three specific exercises over email while I wait (probably some time) for an appointment to see someone in the flesh. And you know what – I’m sure they’ve helped already! I can always pass them on to you if you think they might be worth a try, as they focus on the shoulder, upper arm and back
    As for mixtapes – or compilation tapes as we called them back then – I have such nostalgic fondness for that whole thing as I suspect everyone reading this will too. Mr SDS gave one to me before we were actually going out together, and there was a very definite subliminal message in his selection… I can still feel the butterflies I had as the penny finally dropped and I realised what he was trying to tell me through the music, ahh so long ago….! And there have been so many others from (and for) friends which are so exciting to play when the receiver doesn’t know what’s coming next and is turned on to something new, knowing too that they’ve been put together individually with love and care. Seeing the hand-written tracklist from yours above just sums it all up beautifully.
    All the best for DD and her boyfriend. Change is the only constant in life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just to clarify it’s probably not a medical cold/frozen shoulder, just muscle ache but I’ve been trying everything – Heat packs/cold packs/vibrating massagers (that’s how they are marketed anyway!) and exercises I’ve found online. It usually goes away with time but I keep aggravating it again with this new physical life I have – If you could send me the exercises you’ve been given that would be great.

      And of course, I don’t think we did call them mixtapes back in the day, that’s more an American term – It was compilation tapes. Just to be clear, the one above was from friend so no hidden meaning in there, he just used to press the record button on the stereo and record what we were listening to. One with a subliminal message would have been much more exciting and the one you mention above obviously did the trick!

      Yes, it seems they are both leaving town, and although DD hasn’t lived with us for quite a while now we know she is only 10 minutes away so we see her quite a lot. A big change but one that needs to happen I think.

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  3. You have my sympathy regarding your cold shoulder. I solved my neck and shoulder pain problems by judicious use of pillows – using 2 instead of 1 and getting the bottom pillow one of those that slope downwards but you can flip it and have it sloping upwards – I forget what they’re called. I used to edit my mixtapes by adding audio quotes from famous movies and lesser known stuff such as the Rev Jerry Miller with his 1950’s diatribe against rock’n’ roll. If you haven’t heard it, it really is worth it.
    Here’s a link to Rev. Jerry preaching against rock and roll live on camera!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My goodness your mixtapes were quite sophisticated then with all sorts of edits. As for Rev Jerry, methinks he protests too much, as he’s obviously listened to a fair bit of rock ‘n’ roll to be quite so knowledgeable about it. I wonder what he would think of the rappers of today.

      As for my neck and shoulder problems, yes to the correct pillow arrangements. I fiddled about with 4 different pillows last night to get just the right combination. Not quite so bad today but I have a garden to tidy and plants to plant so I fear it might be aggravated again tomorrow. Can’t hold off any longer though as all this rain has made the weeds really take hold.

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    1. So many great songs that have stood the test of time. Glad that you know so many of them as I’m going to enjoy delving into each one a bit more, finding out “What it’s all about?”.

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  4. So much to grab on to here. First, that’s a hell of a mix tape. About five years ago I decided it was time to bring it back. I pulled out an unused Maxell XLII 90 I had in storage and went to work. By the end of side A, I had consumed an entire evening. Everyone in the house was in bed. loved the exercise because of the nostalgia of it all, but I didn’t remember it taking so much time. Recording in real time is much much different than shuffling some songs around on an iTunes playlist.

    Your husband has good taste, obviously, and I agree with him on Duel. I have the 7″, 12″ and the album from which it was lifted.

    I feel your pain. I hurt my wrist playing tennis back in September… I forgot I’m almost 50 and did something stupid against my 13 year old… and spent the next six months rehabbing it to try and avoid surgery. Seeing a therapist took time and money, but it did work out. Getting old sucks. Take care of yourself, Alyson.

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    1. Ha ha – Yes I did cover a lot of ground with this one but ostensibly about mixtapes. They did take a fair amount of time to put together didn’t they, compared to clicking on a few tunes on iTunes but that’s what made them so special. As C said, if particular songs were chosen to convey a subliminal meaning, they was quite a feat – A more subtle way of finding out if a girl/boy liked you perhaps. If they didn’t get the hidden meaning they probably weren’t interested, but if they did, the chances are things would move to the next level in a nice easy way without anyone feeling humiliated. Gosh, I’m glad those days are behind me!

      Glad you like the first track I chose – Lets hope you approve of whatever I pick next.

      As for my neck/shoulder/back you could be right, as when I took on this second holiday house I hadn’t accounted for the fact it would be such a physical job and I’m not getting any younger. It shouldn’t really matter though as if you look after yourself, the body should hold out – I was obviously just stupid and aggravated a muscle/set of muscles that had already been strained. I’m sure it will sort itself out in due course. Hope the wrist continues to improve.

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  5. oh no, frozen shoulder. I’ve been there. A physio advised me to start a routine of using hand weights once a day (continuing after I got better) to strengthen the muscles in the neck, shoulders & back. This has helped. And to buy a desk adjustable in height so I can stand + sit in front of laptop. The body become a lot stronger just by standing. I’ve found the worst thing to do is cross your legs while sitting. Easier said than done though 🙂 Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    I’ve mixtapes (on CD), and exchanged with a girl I once knew. I think she had better taste than I did at the time! Nice to see A Forest featured on your tape- that song never gets old. Not too familiar with Duel but Trevor Horn is a name I’ve stumbled upon a few times when exploring the 80s. Remember he did Grace Jones’ hit Slave to the Rhythm-which has a epic production. Have fun with the new blog series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is an irony to my neck and shoulder pain – I gave up my nice secure office job a year and a half ago because it became paperless and we were all just given a little laptop and had to find a work station to plug ourselves into each day. It wasn’t for me I decided so I threw in the towel. These workstations were ergonomically designed however to eliminate neck and shoulder pain as the screens were all adjustable as were the chairs and we even had some of those desks you could stand at. My office at home has none of that and I sit for long periods with my neck at a jaunty angle, probably in the wrong kind of chair. I still have a lot of paper also so lean over my desk in a way that just isn’t good for the neck. I am my own worst enemy! Thanks for the good wishes though.

      I love that this music from the ’80s is still new for you and you are making discoveries all the time. You can come at it with fresh ears and have no preconceptions of what was deemed cool or uncool back in the day (a lot of what this post was about). Hope you like some of the other tracks I share from the mixtape.

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      1. Hope you feel better soon. I was told my eyes should be in line with the top of the laptop screen to avoid neck pain.
        By the way, I remember you said you have followed the Up Series. I watched 63 Up this past week (the three new episodes are on YouTube) and is probably my favorite film (technically TV Movie ) of 2019 so far. I was brought to tears and have become quite attached to the participants, some more than others.

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        1. Yes, I’ve definitely got the top of my screen at eye level but will have to work on the rest of it – Lots of other contributing factors (gardening season and my holiday let business) means it never gets a chance to get better. Will get there in the end.

          As for 63 Up, I watched an episode last week but didn’t realise it could be found on YouTube so thanks for that. I have watched every one of these updates since they were all 14 (was too young for the first 7 Up) and it’s been fascinating. The first kind of reality TV I suppose which is now all pervasive but this has been quite a study. So glad to see Neil quite settled as he’s had a fair few ups and downs over the course of his life. Makes us reflect on our own lives and how they have panned out.

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    1. Ah, very good, cold shoulder. They all look so young but over 25 years ago!

      We had a big clear out a while back of cassette tapes, but I felt compelled to keep a few memorable ones despite the fact I have nothing to play them on now. Easy enough to recreate on a digital playlist but nowhere near as satisfying.

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