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1,001 songs to listen to before you die...


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7 minutes ago, Liam said:

A good song is a good song, but I don't think it is a stretch to suggest that I'm probably not the target audience for a pop song about female empowerment. Doesn't mean I or you can't like it - was just suggesting that it probably meant more to someone other than me.

Sorry it wasn't a knock, it was just the "in the UK" that really threw me as I presume that was it's biggest market.

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Liam really summarized Love Will Tear Us Apart brilliantly. I love that song, it helped get me through basic training (obviously I had to play it my head, thank you Andy Dufresne).  I personally

There are many a collection of books that talk about the myriad different things you should or could do before you die. Now, most of them involve an element of time that is beyond me (I like a book, b

670.       ‘This Corrosion’, The Sisters of Mercy (1987) This is another band that I’ve always felt that I should have gone back to check out, yet have never got around to it. I’m

5 minutes ago, Colly said:

Sorry it wasn't a knock, it was just the "in the UK" that really threw me as I presume that was it's biggest market.

Yeah, I wasn't sure why I added that either.

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Kinda weird seeing Syd Barrett pop up in 1988, but neat none the less. 

NWA is great, definitely had to be on this list. 

Also forgot to mention Erik B and Rakim. Probably among my favorite hip hop artists, they have a great catalog. 

Fugazi...weird band for me. They're good but I guess I never got into the way others do. Some think they're one of the greatest things ever but I'll take Minor Threat any day over them.

On 05/10/2020 at 12:55, GoGo Yubari said:

I think I really liked "Dear God" the first time I heard it on the radio and now that's mostly curdled into contempt that XTC's best album was overshadowed by an angsty teen journal entry set to music. Like, Andy Partridge called the song "a petulant failure" and I can't argue with it. But then, who's to say I'd have delved into that album without hearing that song on the radio first, I guess?

I always also used to assume that Husker Du were heavier than they actually were, was a real surprise when I finally heard them for the first time. I really should devote the time to listen to full albums of theirs rather than having isolated songs pop up now and then.

If you do check them out, I'd really recommend just starting Zen Arcade from start to finish, probably the best thing they did. It's a good bridge between their early hardcore days and then their evolution into writing these beautiful songs that also still feel heavy and visceral.

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Straight Outta Compton is good. I never really got into much late 80s rap but NWA have a few really good songs. Such great production, it's quite hypnotic.

I never really got into the whole Syd Barrett idol worship. I like a few of his tunes but they are little more than doodles. This is little more than a doodle but it is pleasant enough. Ultimately I think Syd Barrett is a bit of a lightweight that is largely heralded because he went of his nut on drugs. The songs aren't really there.

Boy there's a lotta Smiffs/Morrissey songs here. I know this because every time one of his songs comes up someone pipes up with BUT...BUT HE'S A RACIST and it gets a bit boring. Everyday is like Sunday is good though. When I was a little boy I went to a Morrissey concert and he renamed it Everyday is like Dundee. There's that classic mediocre wit that had the fanboys whooping and hollering. Good tune though.

Princess Diana liked Orinoco Flow.

 

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A really good bunch there.

I love my noisy '80s/'90s rock, it's a formative influence, though "Where Is My Mind?" is one of my less liked Pixies songs, as far as the "hits" go. Probably significant in terms of importance, but for a "songs to hear before you die", I'd have gone with "Monkey Gone To Heaven" way before this one.

I don't know as much Fugazi as I should, but love Waiting Room.

I love Mudhoney so much. "Touch Me I'm Sick" is probably their most famous song, but deservedly so, and really does capture the essence of what they're all about. It's basically a Stooges rip-off, but a bloody good one.

My Bloody Valentine make gorgeous music, but I'd have gone with something off Loveless. I'm mostly deaf in one ear because of them.

Fast Car is just beautiful. 


I went through a major Syd Barrett phase, and still love some of his stuff, though haven't listened to him in years. "Opel" wouldn't come near my list of top songs of his, so it feels like it's here as a curiosity more than anything else.

"Every Day is Like Sunday" is one of the good Morrissey solo singles - and there are a few - and one of maybe two or three that I would say hold up even alongside the best of The Smiths. Just wonderfully evocative, and I can't walk along the seafront on a cold, quiet day, without thinking of it.

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I had a Syd Barrett phase when I listened to a lot of Pink Floyd and the twee indie kids in college convinced me Barrett was some brilliant genius and Floyd weren't the same without him. "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" remains a neat album but I don't think Barrett did as much solo stuff worth remembering as some people like to say.

MBV are brilliant and maybe something from the superior "Loveless" album will also be on this list?

I agree with @Skummy about the choice of Pixies song. This is the one everyone "knows" but it's not a great example of them at their best. I'm glad they're on this list though. One of those very formative bands in my music listening and they shaped so much in terms of what came in 90s alternative and 00s indie rock music.

"Everyday is Like Sunday" is one of my top 3 solo Morrissey songs. He's got a lot of bland tunes post-Smiths but this certainly isn't one of them.

Mudhoney and Fugazi are both bands I've listened to but not listened to enough. One is worshipped by Seattle and the other by DC as perhaps being greater than they were though? Not really a knock on either because I've liked what I've heard. I think my exposure to Fugazi comes from a generation of people my age who missed out on DC Hardcore so think of it in almost mythic proportions. So I maybe didn't give them the chance I should have when I was younger because I listened to them and it didn't change my life instantly.

NWA are a good inclusion. They had such great production and the key personalities in the group come through on nearly every track.

"Fast Car" is a beautiful song and high on the list of songs where a ton of people who claim to love it don't understand the lyrics.

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701.      

‘One’, Metallica (1988)

Influenced by: Buried Alive • Venom (1982)   

Influence on: Soldier of Misfortune • Filter (2008)   

Covered by: Die Krupps (1993) • Apocalyptica (1998) • Total Chaos (2001) • Crematory (2003) • Korn (2003) • Rodrigo y Gabriela (2004) • Beat Crusaders (2008)

I’m not the hugest Metallica fan, but I am well aware of their pedigree and have witnessed live how good they can be when it comes to reeling off hit after hit. My preference has always been for the slightly more restrained version of Metallica, the more varied in terms of dynamics, the ‘softer’ Metallica, perhaps? ‘One’ definitely falls into that category, mixing its heft towards the end with more placid bits that allow the arpeggios to do a lot of the work alongside Hetfield’s cleaner vocals. Everything builds to a more aggressive close and the lyrics/video all point to Metallica seeking to be maybe more than just a metalhead’s metal band. It is a classic track for a reason.

702.      

‘The Mercy Seat’, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (1988)

Influenced by: 25 Minutes to Go • Johnny Cash (1965)   

Influence on: Prison Shoe Romp • 16 Horsepower (2003)   

Covered by: Johnny Cash (2000) • Kazik Staszewski (2001) • Unter Null (2010)   

Other key track: Deanna (1988)

Another on the list of ‘should have listened to more from’, what I’ve heard by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds has always been good. This is a song I’ve never heard before and is discordant pretty much from the opening moment, really building up a sense of the mental maelstrom swirling around a man waiting for his execution. There is a lot going in terms of the backing music which, whilst simple in melody, is layered with lots of different elements to create a wall of sound effect. When you fight through the swirling noise, there is also a good, catchy rock song to add that extra element of interest – Cave’s repeated exhortations fight their way to the front of everything by the end and that repetition lodges them firmly in your head. An interesting soundscape with a dark, dark centre.

703.      

‘Ederlezi’, Goran Bregovic (1988)

(Film version)

This is one that I can’t necessarily comment too much on as I have no real context for it in terms of this style of music, whilst the book does also talk about how Bregovic himself was controversial for not crediting Gypsy musicians from whom he borrows. There is an eeriness amongst an otherwise lush production, primarily helped by the vocals of Vaska Jankovska, a young Gypsy singer who has a set of pipes on her. I understand why this song rose above other songs from the Balkan region in its popularity outside of that area, though it doesn’t do a massive amount for me once you look past the vocals.

704.      

‘Ale Brider’, Klezmatics (1988)

It is interesting how the book often groups minority and ethnic music together so having had a slice of Balkan music, it heads into a Jewish offering. Klezmer was a style of music that was largely destroyed when the Nazis did Nazi things, but it earned a revival amongst the Jewish diaspora in New York. The Klezmatics are apparently the most celebrated of this style of music, producing songs such as this which harken back to the celebratory Jewish music of weddings and other celebrations. I do enjoy it, if care little about it once it is gone. Good to see it recognised here as a slice of history though.

705.      

‘Love Shack’, The B-52s (1988)

It is odd how some bands have massive success pretty much consistently, whilst other acts have years or even decades between their most notable hits. This is almost ten years after ‘Rock Lobster’ and the band had largely failed to ignite much interest in the prevailing years. I personally feel this is a better song, though your mileage may vary depending on what you feel towards the much more unhinged former tune. Unlike some songs I enjoy, I have to be in the right mood for this, yet when I am, it does hit the right spot. Joyous, playful, catchy – can’t argue too much with that.

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Much prefer earlier B-52s when there's just so much craziness that can't be contained. By the time "Love Shack" came around they sanitized themselves a bit, though not in a particularly bad way. They lost something when Ricky Wilson passed away but made up for it in a way by shifting their sound focus to the wonderful harmonies of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson.

"One" is a Metallica song I liked a lot more when I was younger than I do now. Still good though.

I don't listen to near as much Nick Cave as I should.

The Balkan inclusions are nice though I'm not well versed in them at all. Regrettably I've never seen Time of the Gypsies.

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Love Shack probably used to be a guilty pleasure song, but I think hindsight has allowed for people to appreciate the B52's back catalogue and it is not really a guilty pleasure song. I think I wrote before when the B52's were there for Rock Lobster - Ricky Wilson dying of AIDS really impacted the band. They moved away from art-pop and transitioned to just straight up pop. And who can blame them? Ricky Wilson was one of a kind and could never be replaced. Instead of trying to replicate what they had before with someone new, they changed directions and went pop. 

Love Shack was actually written about a cabin where the band had written some of their earlier songs. I always read Love Shack as celebrating the vision of the B52's and being somewhat of a celebration of those earlier years. 

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I like the part in "Where Is My Mind" where Frank Black starts talking about his trip to the Caribbean and eventually descends into absolute fucking gibberish. It's a real good song but it's no "Debaser."

"Touch Me I'm Sick" is excellent. Perfectly catchy and sludge-y, maybe the platonic ideal of grunge.

"Buffalo Stance" is a perfect song. It has just enough presence in the States to turn up as background music but not enough to be a song most people would recognize, so one time I went to a Red Robin with my sister and it came on and I did the "wots 'ee like anyway" breakdown under my breath, which she was very confused by. But I had to do it, you know?

I went through an arc with "Fast Car" where I adored it as a child, didn't think about it at all as a teen and in my 20s, and now I adore it again because I understand the lyrics so much more clearly now.

"Every Day Is Like Sunday" is good but I prefer "Suedehead." The Smiths/Morrissey have come up a bunch but being honest I don't think any of the Smiths songs in particular should/could be cut, it's not like how "Holiday in the Sun" by the Sex Pistols was weirdly shoehorned in, as if there wasn't more than enough Jon Lydon on the way.

"Straight Outta Compton" is great, a perfect introduction to NWA. Also I haven't looked at that track list in a minute and man, "Straight Outta Compton," "Fuck tha Police," "Gangsta Gangsta," and "If It Ain't Ruff" is an unbelievably strong run of songs.

Anything I could say about "Love Shack" damshow and RPS said better.

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Having pretty much ignored them all my life, I've actually started getting into Metallica in the last year or so. They made a good noise. One was one of the songs that I knew beforehand, and it's pretty good. It's lost without the low end though. I like Metallica because they make a good noise, and you need proper bass for that.

I'm not really a fan of Nick Cave in the 80s. That song's not really an exception. It's fine.

The Bregovic and Klezmatics are fine. Based on the little I know of either style they aren't sterling examples of their genre. Just the ones that happened to break through to an extent.

Love Shack is brilliant and is the second best B-52s song. The best one is Roam, obviously.

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Mercy Seat is a masterpiece. Skummy got me into that song, he posted this really great performance of it from some show called Night Music? I forgot the name but its Nick Cave with Mick Harvey and some other dudes.

1 hour ago, RPS said:

Love Shack probably used to be a guilty pleasure song, but I think hindsight has allowed for people to appreciate the B52's back catalogue and it is not really a guilty pleasure song. I think I wrote before when the B52's were there for Rock Lobster - Ricky Wilson dying of AIDS really impacted the band. They moved away from art-pop and transitioned to just straight up pop. And who can blame them? Ricky Wilson was one of a kind and could never be replaced. Instead of trying to replicate what they had before with someone new, they changed directions and went pop. 

Love Shack was actually written about a cabin where the band had written some of their earlier songs. I always read Love Shack as celebrating the vision of the B52's and being somewhat of a celebration of those earlier years. 

I remember us talking about the B-52s. Probably this thread? This is a good summation.

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2 hours ago, damsher hatfield said:

Apparently the B in EWB now stands for B-52's stans.

They fucking rule. I'm partial to the early days myself, the first two albums are sweet, but RPS really nails the necessity of their evolution into fun pop.

Really really good live, saw them probably ten years ago and they sounded great. Plenty of energy, and played enough variety to satisfy fans of the punkier vibe and the poppier stuff. 

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13 hours ago, VerbalPuke said:

Mercy Seat is a masterpiece. Skummy got me into that song, he posted this really great performance of it from some show called Night Music? I forgot the name but its Nick Cave with Mick Harvey and some other dudes.

It is indeed Night Music; the brilliant old Lorne Michaels late night music show hosted by Jools Holland and David Sanborn, and some of the maddest line-ups and collaborations imaginable. It's a real "how the hell was this on TV?!" show, and the stripped down Nick Cave performances on there are really good. Johnny Cash does a great version too.

Nick Cave has changed a lot as an artist since then, but Mercy Seat is a perfect example of what I think of as the "canonical" Nick Cave; all Southern Gothic barely suppressed rage and black humour. 

I like klezmer, but don't recall ever actually hearing that Klezmatics song. It's fun!

Goran Bregovic I know purely because he did a collaboration with Scott Walker (Man From Reno) that I love, and that he wrote 2010's Serbian Eurovision entry. This song's fine.

B-52s are delightful, and I think people who think of it as "cheesy" or a guilty pleasure just tend to not understand that everything about it kitsch by design.

"One" is my favourite Metallica song. It feels like the most musically mature and interesting thing they ever wrote; kind of like how a lot of their fans used to talk up "Master Of Puppets", only it's a much better song than that.

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On 12/10/2020 at 20:31, metalman said:

Fairytale of New York is a bit shit. I don't mind the Pogues but I've never got into this. Far too overproduced. Shane MacGowan hamming it up even more than usual and I've never really liked Kirsty MacColl's voice. Save it for the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special. You get all these bores boring on about it being an injustice Always On My Mind by the Pet Shop Boys kept it off number 1, BUT THAT'S BECAUSE ALWAYS ON MY MIND IS A MUCH BETTER SONG. I mean, I can see why people like it but I don't really like to spill lager on people when I sing songs so this isn't for me.

When I was in Uni, the eldest son of family I rented a room from would play Fairytale of New York repeatedly every November/December while he sang along loudly and out of key. It was living in that house that killed any enjoyment I had for the song. The more recent and seemingly annual online "debate" around the song has not helped either. Every year we seem to get news about radio stations not playing it and then there are people who are "outraged" and then the people who say "but they changed it in subsequent performances!" and repeat.

Tracy Champan is pretty good. I think my sister had either a best of or one of her albums. I liked her stuff.

My brother was quite into Enya's music for a bit. It all feels very much of it's time and it's time was the early to mid 90s when Pure Moods albums were a thing people bought.

I feel like I should like Nick Cave because I'm in that demographic of person who probably likes Nick Cave.  But I never really got into him too much.  Same with The Smiths, although they passed me by even moreso than Nick Cave did.

 

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19 hours ago, VerbalPuke said:

Really really good live, saw them probably ten years ago and they sounded great. Plenty of energy, and played enough variety to satisfy fans of the punkier vibe and the poppier stuff. 

Me too. So much fun. Fred Schneider is a top level front man. He is a fabulous Jello Biafra. 

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Just listened to the last 3 or 4 sets in a row at work. I really like the one that had pixies, Fugazi and Mudhoney. 15 minutes well spent. I've seen my bloody valentine live and enjoyed it but it wouldn't be something I'd listen to regularly.

Then, it went downhill for me. I do like the bad seeds song, though.

I like the first couple albums of the B-52's but this era is just not for me. I'm ok with the song. I don't feel like turning it off whenever it plays. I just don't care much for it.

Oh, about U2, I agree with most of that. I'm pretty sure I've first heard U2 with Joshua tree. Probably this song. Not sure. I've heard those songs way too often. Obviously they were on the radio all the time but also, (pretty much everyone in) my family loved them. I never knew I could actually like some U2 songs because I didn't care much for anything I'd heard since then. Until one day, I decided to dig into their older stuff and I actually liked some pre-joshua tree songs. 

 

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706.      

‘A Little Respect’, Erasure (1988)

I love this song. There. Done.

Ok, I’ll give a little bit more. It has that grand mix of sad lyric juxtaposed with upbeat tune that I always appreciate when done well, whilst also being one of the hookiest earworms that have ever existed. It feels like it builds in chunks, so it swells to its appropriate end by the time the song has finished. A masterpiece of pop.

707.      

‘Wicked Game’, Chris Isaak (1988)

Influenced by: Blue Moon • Elvis Presley (1956)   

Influence on: Dark Therapy • Echobelly (1995)   

Covered by: R.E.M. (1995) • HIM (1996) • Crossbreed (1998) • JJ72 (2003) • Heather Nova (2005) • Girls Aloud (2005) • Giant Drag (2006) • Ima Robot (2006) • Stone Sour (2007) • Turin Brakes (2007)

Sometimes it is the influence/cover section of a song that is most interesting or most reflective of what a song offers us. This is probably one of the most diverse lists of acts to offer their own take on a song, mixing pop with gothic-tinged rocky stuff, indy, and the like. To me, it speaks to the quality of the song as it has the brooding vocals over a languid guitar rhythm that lends itself to a range of different alternative music genres, yet also has a lyric that can easily be co-opted for a poppier take on things. As mentioned in the book, it helped that the music video had a naked Helena Christensen rolling around in it, a move away from an original David Lynch offering when the song was originally released. There is an argument perhaps to be made for it being a song that could be covered better – Isaak’s vocals aren’t a total lock in terms of how much I enjoy them – but this is the original and probably still the best.

708.      

‘Personal Jesus’, Depeche Mode (1988)

Influenced by: Rock and Roll (Part 2) • Gary Glitter (1972)   

Influence on: Reach Out • Hilary Duff (2008)   

Covered by: Lollipop Lust Kill (2002) • David Gogo (2002) • Gravity Kills (2002) • Pat MacDonald (2003) • Marilyn Manson (2004) • Tamtrum (2009)

I’ve already made my love for mid to late 80s-era Depeche Mode clear, yet this is a song that stands above their earlier offering on the list (‘Never Let Me Down Again’). Apparently this was the first really prominent use of guitar on a Mode song and it helps it to reach its anthemic height. Everything about the singles in particular that the band offered at this time felt gigantic in size and scale, with ‘Personal Jesus’ a perfect example. The lyrics offer a deep take on putting someone on a pedestal, inspired by Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s relationship according to the book. Depeche Mode are such a strong singles band for me and this is one of their best.

709.      

‘Soy gitano’, Camaron de le Isla (1989)

Camaron was dubbed the Spanish Jimi Hendrix, mainly for his virtuoso musical talent and his premature death, and this is a highlight of what he could offer. Accompanied by a guitar played by Paco de Lucia, Camaron’s appeal was his passionate vocals that brought that brand of music out into the wider world. This is another ‘world music’ song that I feel poorly equipped to talk about, yet it isn’t hard to see the allure. The chorus is catchy, the flamenco guitars are playful throughout, whilst the vocal delivery is impassioned as Camaron sang a song about his love for his Gypsy roots.

710.      

‘I Am The Resurrection’, The Stone Roses (1989)

I’ve always assumed – wrongly – that The Stone Roses released their debut early on in the 90s, yet they just squeeze into the tail end of the previous decade. In some ways, this does feel transitional - a move towards the type of rock that would become more prevalent in the early to mid 90s. I was waiting for this album to come up, but am surprised about the song choice; I expected ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ with its opening lyric in particular a statement of intent from the band and Ian Brown. However, this is the end of the album and cemented what is, to me at least, one of the best albums I’ve heard. There is a swagger that comes with the noise, yet there is also a lot of talent, best emphasised by the four minute instrumental that closes things out. A barnstorming debut that didn’t build to the career it could have for the band as was, though it did set the ball rolling for many involved.

I'm away for the next few days. As I'm with family, I might be able to squeeze and update or two out, but we shall see.

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Erasure takes me back to the mid 00s and exploring all of the great synth, new wave bands of the 80s. Erasure never really had the crossover appeal in the US to my understanding and they were never really considered in the same vein as other great new wave artists. A Little Respect is such an uplifting song.

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These are all good. Maybe not so much from the Stone Roses. I don't like them so much apart from Fools' Gold.

Back when I was a dumb little kid I thought Wicked Game was originally by HIM.

Soy Gitano and Personal Jesus are two songs I'm a very big fan of. I love Personal Jesus and I wish I liked other Depeche Mode songs just as much, but none of them have ever worked for me.

A Little Respect is a good one too. I didn't realise it was as late as 1988. So there you go.

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I really thought "A Little Respect" came out much earlier in the decade. I guess it fits in terms of Vince Clarke's timeline that he had Yazoo for a bit after Depeche Mode and then the Assembly and THEN Erasure. That's a lot in a few years. What a guy. I'm always curious why Erasure never took off in the US but I think they put out some very good synthpop and this one being maybe my favorite. Perhaps too much of an earworm so have to be careful not to overdo it and listen to it too much though.

"Wicked Game" is an extremely sexy song. Probably because of the video. But yeah, that's my association for the song.

I don't like "Personal Jesus" as much as other DM hits. It crosses over into the budding industrial genre a bit and while I really enjoy industrial music (despite not listening to it regularly since I was a teenager) it's kind of too much at once from DM. Artistically this song is great for them though as they moved into more stylings and continued bringing in more of their outside influences.

I was wondering if I had heard "Soy Gitano" before but the answer is a yes and I just never picked out the title. It's very good.

I had a stage where I listened to a lot of The Stone Roses and they never really stuck with me. I haven't checked them out in years and I don't think their sound has aged as well for me. Maybe a situation of just finding others who did it better.

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IIRC the David Lynch "Wicked Game" music video is about 50% shots from Wild At Heart.

Lynch would then go on to cast Chris Issak as Special Agent Chet Desmond in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. He's only in it for, like, 20 mins. He's not the most memorable musician doing an acting role in a David Lynch film. He's not even the most memorable musician in an acting role in Fire Walk With Me!

I do love "Wicked Game" though. It's really some peak late 80s 1950s chique.

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