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Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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TFD: Definitive power rankings from the 1993 "No Alternative" CD

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 5th at 6:03pm 270059111

noalternative

Because it’s August and you have nothing better to do than jump into a discussion of the best songs of a compilation CD that is almost old enough to drink  – yes, “No Alternative” will turn 21 in October — please follow RandBallsStu (aka Steve Neuman of MPR/American Public Media) and I down this rabbit hole.

[This has nothing to do with sports, so be warned].

We will both give our rankings of the best songs on the disc, and I will even *temporarily* suspend the use of the royal we in order to make this less confusing. Stu gets to go first because he sent me this about a week ago and I’ve been slacking. Our different tastes in music should put to rest rumors once and for all that we are the same person. We are not. [Language warning on the links].

RandBallsStu’s No Alternative Power Rankings

  1. Unseen Power of the Picket Fence,” Pavement.  This was my first exposure to Pavement: a weird, clattering, stagger of a song about R.E.M. and the Civil War that doesn’t mention picket fences or have a chorus.   So it’s perfect.  I think I read that they were going to perform this on MTV and Michael Stipe wanted to dance in the background so they decided against it.  HIGHLIGHT: The way they sing “G-G-G-G-G-G-GEORGIA” towards the end.
  2. All Your Jeans Were Too Tight,” American Music Club.  Pedal steel guitar and despair work just as well in an alternative rock song as they do in a country song.  At least, I think it’s pedal steel.  Either way: wonderful tune, woefully underlooked band.
  3. Sappy,” Nirvana.  Hidden track!  Nobody does hidden tracks anymore!  Cracker’s Kerosene Hat had about 80 of them.
  4. Take A Walk,” Urge Overkill.  ONE OF US: Both Nash Kato and King Roeser of Urge Overkill are Minnesotans.  So, they’re in.
  5. Joed Out,” Barbara Manning.  I re-listened to the CD in order to make a better judgment on these power rankings for you, the reader, and remembered how much I enjoyed this track by one of the relatively lesser-known acts on the record.  Kind of a somber Liz Phair vibe if you’re into that sort of thing.  (Yes, I know she pre-dates Liz Phair.)

Honorable Mention/Notes

  • Of the remaining covers on this thing, the best one is CCR’s “Effigy” by Uncle Tupelo.
  • I enjoy the Goo Goo Dolls’ take on the Rolling Stones’ “Bitch,” but the former have done so much wrong in the intervening years that I cannot in good conscience rank them.  I remember the theme song you wrote for Good Morning, Miami, Johnny Rzeznik.  You thought you could distract everyone with that superfluous “z” WELL GUESS WHAT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
  • Patti Smith’s contribution is touching and easy to admire, but listen to “Gloria” instead.  “Gloria” is amazing.

RandBall’s No Alternative Power Rankings

  1. “Verse, Chorus, Verse,” Nirvana. Yes, we can argue about whether we should call this song by its other title, “Sappy,” but to me it’s always VCV. And more importantly, it’s one of the five best songs ever recorded by one of the five best bands that ever picked up guitars and sang. So it easily tops my list even before factoring in that it’s the best hidden track this side of Beck’s “Debra.” I don’t know how you would hide a track on iTunes, but someone should figure this out because I WANT TO BE SURPRISED.
  2. “All Your Jeans Were Too Tight,” American Music Club. The thing that sparked this whole back-and-forth was a tweet I sent while driving to Mankato (don’t tweet and drive) noting that I always think of this song on that drive because of the lyric “Trying to make you feel better is like trying to trick St. Peter,” and the drive takes you through St. Peter. That’s ridiculous, but it’s true. I’m weird and that’s how my mind works. Just a fantastic song, though.
  3. Glynis,” Smashing Pumpkins. For a long time, I tried to pretend that I did not like the Smashing Pumpkins. Did. Not. Like. Nirvana was everything, and they were just some watered down version of everything. But even before I could admit that I liked Smashing Pumpkins, I really liked Gylnis. IN SECRET.
  4. “Unseen Power of the Picket Fence,” Pavement. As Stuart notes, this is one of the most Pavement songs ever. And I love Pavement. I saw them like 15 years ago. I’ve forgotten like 80 percent of everything that happened at all the shows I’ve gone to, but Pavement is vivid. Malkmus can name-check anyone he wants.
  5. Iris,” The Breeders. This song is only great for about 45 seconds, but when it’s great it’s so, so great. Speaking of name-checking, I saw the Breeders many years after their prime, and they were fabulous. My friend Jayme shared a cigarette with one of the Deal sisters. At least that’s how I remember it. [Seal the Deal joke self-deleted]. But really, it was a great show.

Honorable Mention/Notes

  • As Stu also notes, the “Effigy” cover and Urge Overkill’s “Take a Walk” are very good.
  • I also very much like the Soundgarden song “Show Me,” but there are better Soundgarden songs in their ample catalog and therefore they miss the cut.
  • I really don’t like the Bob Mould song or the Soul Asylum cover of Sexual Healing. I’ll just move to Wisconsin now.
  • Basically, I compiled these rankings based on a quick re-listening of all the songs, plus my memory of which ones I skipped over always, which I skipped sometimes and which I was particularly excited to get to.
  • I came across this Straight Jacket Fits song in the course of my research, and I think you should listen to it.

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Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 115 FINAL
Denver 111
Indiana 100 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 73 FINAL
UNLV 75
CS-Northridge 56 FINAL
Oregon 79
Grambling St 38 FINAL
Washington 86
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60

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