This fall I had the pleasure of stumbling across Tim Thornton’s The Alternative Hero. Funny and real, Thornton hits on the inherent nerdiness and enthusiasm of any dedicated music fan. Clive Beresford, fanzine writer and pop-culture obsessive, one day unwittingly spots Lance Webster, the former front man for the Thieving Magpies, a man now more famous for his explosive antics than musical contributions. Beresford then crafts a plan to befriend the singer, in hopes of making sense of both Webster’s mysterious meltdown and Beresford’s own existence. Hilarious, captivating, and an impressive melding of real rock history and fictional events, The Alternative Hero is one of my favorite reads in recent memory.
TAH author Tim Thornton obliged us in creating a mix for M|H, based on the book.
From the author: For this compilation I decided to be a bit conceptual. In The Alternative Hero there’s a scene where Alan, the protagonist Clive’s best friend, wistfully recalls listening to a compilation made by the elusive object of his desire, Nicola Cartwright. So here’s my reconstruction of that very tape. Lightly gothy with an indie underside… here it is… enjoy.
ALAN’S BIT OF STUFF
1. THE WONDER STUFF – A SONG WITHOUT AN END
The Wonder Stuff get a lot of stick and I’m always the first to defend them. John Peel apparently only ever played one Wonder Stuff song on the radio, and it was a ‘B’ side. Perhaps it was this one.
2. THE HOUSE OF LOVE – I DON’T KNOW WHY I LOVE YOU
In a parallel universe, The House Of Love became as big as REM and this was their “Losing My Religion”. But of course, they didn’t and this wasn’t. Great song though.
3. THE SUGARCUBES – BIRTHDAY
And a thousand indie fans check their record player is working properly. How gloriously weird is this song, Bjork already displaying all the things which later made her huge.
4. THE CURE – FASCINATION STREET
Instantly conjuring memories of rainy nights, raging hormones, flat Walkman batteries and empty bottles of cider. And a bassline so meaty it’s practically edible.
5. THE PIXIES – No. 13 BABY
Probably their only song to mention the word “chinos”. And the “tattooed tit” line is also pretty rare.
6. ALL ABOUT EVE – SHELTER FROM THE RAIN
It’s been a while, and I’m afraid time has not been kind. But it had to go on. My poor friend with his never-ending unrequited love.
7. VIOLENT FEMMES – ADD IT UP
The first 50 times I heard it, I thought it was a big joke. I remember dancing at Camden Palace on a Tuesday, wondering, “did he reallysay ‘why can’t I get just one f-‘??”
8. THE SMITHS – HANDSOME DEVIL
Partly picked because of the “mammary glands” line. Do I have a breast fixation on this compilation? Possibly.
9. PRIMAL SCREAM – I’M LOSING MORE THAN I’LL EVER HAVE
Not trying to be an elitist or anything, but we liked this song way before they turned it into “Loaded”.
10. NEW MODEL ARMY – VAGABONDS
A hundred crusties dancing in a circle on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Reading Festival. And us trying to steal their booze.
11. THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN – APRIL SKIES
I recently read in Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography that JAMC were the only band on the ’92 Lollapalooza tour who were permanently drunk, grumpy and devoid of all party spirit. Gawd bless ’em.
12. THE CURE – A NIGHT LIKE THIS
Not only is this one of the finest and most underrated Cure songs, it is also just about the only song in the history of the world to get away with a saxophone solo.
Of course, officially it’s a faux pas to put two songs by the same band on a compilation tape, but conceptual accuracy must prevail…
13. JANE’S ADDICTION – SUMMERTIME ROLLS
Every goth’s favourite summer song. Actually, make that every goth’s only summer song.
For an excerpt from The Alternative Hero and an interview with Tim Thornton, click here. You can also find out more here and here.
As if the mix wasn’t enough, Knopf has kindly provided us with copies of The Alternative Hero to give away! From now until 11:59:59 PM Central Time, December 31, 2009, you can enter to win a copy (and maybe some other secret goodies). There are two ways to win!
1) Leave a comment letting us know your favorite part about The Alternative Hero, Alan’s Bit of Stuff, or Mixtapes|Heartbreaks. Make sure to sign up with a valid email address, that’s how we’ll contact you.
2) Follow us on Twitter and retweet our contest messages to win!