When I got Comix Zone for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive in 1995, it came packed with a CD in a cardboard sleeve, featuring 12 tracks by various artists and bands on American Recordings. This was, of course, in the days before every kind of entertainment could be streamed over the Internet. Hell, this was before most houses even HAD access to the Internet. Sampler CDs, often disguised as movie soundtracks, would allow thousands of people to discover new songs and artists they maybe didn’t know about before.
While the 1989 Batman soundtrack by Prince was the first album I ever owned, it was on tape. This sampler disc was the first CD that I ever owned, so it got a lot of rotation when I was first discovering music in the mid-1990s.
I’ve tracked down YouTube videos of all 12 songs. In the cases where I could find the official music video, that’s what I included. But videos aren’t produced for every song, so some of them are just the album art — and in at least one case, I’m not even sure how you’d make a video for the song that wasn’t just straight porn.
Welcome to 1995. The Sony PlayStation was released. OJ Simpson was on trial. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie was released in theaters. The Oklahoma City federal building was bombed. The blue M&M replaced the tan M&M in standard color rotation. And I was introduced to the following songs:
Upon my first time listening to this song, this one was my favorite track. I had been introduced to Metallica a couple years earlier, and to my age 13 ear, this sounded the most similar to that. I had no idea who Glenn Danzig was, nor did I have any clue about his already long history in the music industry. You might know Danzig as the former lead singer of The Misfits (a band better known for their logo than their music), or for his hit song “Mother.”
This was my first time watching the video for this song, and that may have been a mistake. It always felt so much harder and tougher than a bunch of white dudes leaning against walls and sitting on stoops in Brooklyn.
Still. These white boys have pretty cool voices for hip-hop, even if they are maybe trying a bit too hard, so this song gets a pass from me. Amusingly, the video and the Sampler disc have almost identical edits. Uncensored versions can be found on Spotify and Apple Music and whatever streaming services the kids are using these days.
Despite the goofy name, MC 900 ft Jesus has some pretty cool music. I’ve ended up buying two of his albums: Welcome to my Dream, and the album this song is from, One Step Ahead of the Spider. Neither have songs that are catchy enough to be mainstream radio hits, but one of his other songs from One Step Ahead of the Spider did get featured on Beavis and Butt-Head! So that’s something, I guess.
Anyways, both of those albums are amongst the most unique in my music collection. Check out the track from the Beavis and Butt-Head link, and experience how different it is from Buried at Sea. MC 900 ft Jesus had more going on than he’s probably ever gotten credit for.
You’d think I’d be more into The Jesus and Mary Chain, considering their debut album — Psychocandy — was named after me. Ten years before I took on the nickname. This song isn’t from that album, though. Actually, for the longest time, I didn’t want to listen to a song called “I Hate Rock & Roll.” I thought it would be a rap song about how bad rock music is, rather than an alternative rock song about the problems with the music industry.
That may sound ridiculous today, but you have to consider the time. There was a huge divide between rock fans and rap fans in the early-to-mid 1990s. It took the NuMetal bands of the late 90s and early 00s to finally bridge that gap. Fortunately, the feud seems to have mostly subsided as time has gone on, and rap & hip hop are inescapable.
But we’ll get back to mainstream guitar rock eventually, right?
80s New Wave fans will know Love and Rockets for their smash hit, So Alive. I heard this song first, but when I first heard So Alive, I remember thinking, “This sounds like that Love and Rockets band.”
And then…it was. And then, years later, I bought their 1986 album, Express, which has no songs I recognized on it, for a dollar.
You probably know the Lords of Acid by another name: The Immortals. And even if you don’t, you DEFINITELY know their big hit song from 1995, Techno Syndrome, aka the Mortal Kombat theme.
This song, however, is not about murdering multicolored ninjas in a fighting tournament for the fate of Earth. This song is about a woman experiencing an orgasm during cunnilingus. So that’s a little bit different.
Anyways, enjoy comparing those two songs and realizing they’re the same band.
This song definitely spoke to me on the first time I listened to the CD. Upbeat, peppy, and catchy with a good hook. I don’t have a lot to say. It’s just a solid pop punk song, before pop punk was a genre.
Stiffs, Inc. were a Victorian-themed punk band out of New York, doing something akin to Steampunk like a full decade before that was a thing, too. (Please correct me in the comments about how I got something wrong there, because I’m sure I did!) Everything about this song is basically ahead of its time, but simultaneously feels exactly correct for 1995.
I already wrote about this song on my Top 40 at 40 playlist, so you can go check that post out for my thoughts on this song. I’m including the studio version of the song here though, instead of the live version I included in the earlier post.
This song is RIGHT up my alley. Buy it definitely took a while for me to recognize how cool and intricate it actually is. In fact, Empty, the album that No More Love appears on, was the first album I bought because of this sampler, in around 2000. And I don’t regret that for a second.
The second of the albums I bought because of this sampler, Ruth Ruth’s Laughing Gallery is full of fun pop-alternative songs about the goofier side of teenage angst — There’s a song on there called “I Killed Meg the Prom Queen,” which is about exactly what the title suggests. But it’s their follow up record, Are You My Friend, that’s become one of my favorite records of all time. And I wouldn’t have found it if not for American Recordings cutting a deal with Sega to include this sampler disc in Comix Zone.
Well done, Turner!
And here’s usually where I tap out. 44 Robbers is an interesting song, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t do much for me.
You know that thing where you hear a song, and then when you see the video, you think, “that’s not what I imagined at all”? This may be a situation where the opposite occurred; after listening to this song for almost 30 years I finally looked up the video for this post. And I’ve gotta say, the tone of the video matches the tone of the song almost perfectly. Good job to the director.
I mean, the musical part of this song is pretty fun, but I’ve never really been into songs that objectify people in this manner. I’d be down with an instrumental version. I think Lindsey’s vocals are even pretty solid, I just wish he was rapping totally different lyrics. It’s fine. It’s very early-90s hip hop. It’s just not for me.
These 12 songs eventually got me to buy SIX records. That’s definitely the exact reason to put out a collection like this — give listeners a sample of what you’re putting out in hopes that they like it and want to spend money on your product.
I hope you liked this trip down a very specific year in musical history with me. Even more, I hope you found a new artist or band whose discography you can explore!
What was your favorite track of these 12? Did you know any of them before today? Let me know in the comments!