Back in 1988 — a year before before Nirvana released Bleach — a 21-year old Kurt Cobain sat down and made a mixtape, titled Montage of Heck, on a 4-track cassette recorder.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, we can all listen to that mixtape now, as it was recently unearthed by the curators of retro cool over at the Dangerous Minds blog and posted to Vimeo.
The mix clocks in at 36 minutes long and blends ambient noise, instantly-recognizable song clips and children’s music into a wall of sound that gives few hints to the sonic sea change that Nirvana’s music would ignite. Like many mixtapes, it’s an unlikely pastiche of music — The Partridge Family, Queensryche, the Theme from The Andy Griffith Show, Black Sabbath — that forms a cohesive, if occasionally jarring whole.
It’s not easy to listen to; it plays more like the soundtrack to a haunted house than a mixtape to woo, say, Taylor Swift. But it is a sort of anthropological fun, though, to listen to and search for clues into the mind of one of the progenitors of modern rock music.
Listen and check out the full list of tracks and samples used in the mix, according to United Mutations, below:
“The Men In My Little Girl’s Life” by Mike Douglas
“The Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” by The Beatles
“A Day In The Life” by The Beatles
“Eruption” by Van Halen
“Hot Pants” by James Brown
“Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” by Cher
“Go Away Little Girl” by Donny Osmond
“Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver
“Everybody Loves Somebody” by Dean Martin
“The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr.
“In A Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly
“Wild Thing” by William Shatner
“Taxman” by The Beatles
“I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family
“Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?” by The Barbarians
“Queen Of The Reich” by Queensryche
“Last Caress/Green Hell” covered by Metallica
“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
“Get Down, Make Love” by Queen
“ABC” by The Jackson Five
“I Want Your Sex” by George Michael
“Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden
“Eye Of The Chicken” by Butthole Surfers
“Dance of the Cobra” by Butthole Surfers
“The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave” by Butthole Surfers
“New Age” by The Velvet Underground
“Love Buzz” by Shocking Blue
Orchestral music from 200 Motels by Frank Zappa
“Help I’m A Rock” / “It Can’t Happen Here” by Frank Zappa
“Call Any Vegetable” by Frank Zappa
“The Day We Fall In Love” by The Monkees
“Sweet Leaf” by Black Sabbath (intro)
Theme from The Andy Griffith Show
Mike Love (of The Beach Boys) talking about “Transcendental Meditation”
Excerpts of Jimi Hendrix speaking at the Monterey Pop Festival
Excerpts of Paul Stanley from KISS’ Alive!
Excerpts of Daniel Johnston screaming about Satan
Excerpts from sound effects records
Various children’s records (Curious George, Sesame Street, The Flintstones, Star Wars).
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