Wednesday, January 5, 2011

RISK: A playlist for world domination

Note: One of the things I will subject you to from time to time is the tracklisting and/or cover art of a favorite compilation CD I've made. I was an incurable mixtaper in the 1980s, and that obsession only swelled with the introduction of recordable CDs. Nowadays, my utter lack of free time limits my hobby, which makes the ones I do finish that much more special to me. You've been warned!

Cover art and iTunes icon for my latest masterpiece.

Every New Year's weekend for the past several years -- the actual number is in dispute, but it's been more than five -- my sister hosts a "New Year's RISK" game day. We'd played RISK many times for many years before that, but as we got older and had kids, it became slightly harder to start a game on a Friday or Saturday night and not finish until three in the morning. So we chose New Year's because (a) it's the slowest holiday, with no required traveling and visiting; (b) there were no school or sports activities during the holiday break, and (c) we could start early and end before 8:00 pm -- because, as every RISK fan knows, you can't play a proper game in less than 5 hours.

So anyway, music nut that I am, I tend to plan ahead for any gathering's soundtrack, usually opting to play more obscure selections in my collection, avoiding the kind of day-in, day-out stuff I always listen to. Ever since the appearance of Eric Clapton's Unplugged CD in the early 1990s, however, I've never been able to tromp across Canada on the RISK board without humming "Alberta" to myself. I've wanted for years to assemble a "RISK soundtrack," and this year I finally did it. It started as a single-CD plan and quickly became a double, and it made its debut on 1/1/11. It was a little hard to appreciate all the nuances over the din of gameage, but I think it's a fun comp. Here's the tracklist:

Disc One / 26 Tracks / 77:16:40

01. RISK commercial 1980s (0:14) YouTube
02. I Will See You In Far Off Places (edit) (2:53) Morrissey
03. Fight Test (3:58) The Flaming Lips
04. Alphabet of Nations (1:20) They Might Be Giants
05. "Australia's the key to the whole game" (0:42) LOST, Season 4, Episode 9
06. Down Under (3:37) Men At Work
07. Australia (edit) (4:00) The Kinks
08. War On War (3:47) Wilco
09. We Can Work It Out (2:12) The Beatles
10. RISK on Seinfeld Part 1 (1:03) Jerry, Kramer, Newman
11. Old Siam, Sir (4:04) Paul McCartney
12. China Girl (4:10) David Bowie
13. Turning Japanese (3:42) The Vapors
14. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1 (4:46) The Flaming Lips
15. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 2 (2:53) The Flaming Lips
16. RISK on Seinfeld Part 4 (0:50) Kramer, Newman, Ukranian
17. Back In The USSR (LOVE) (2:38) The Beatles
18. You Can Call Me (Ural) (4:38) Paul Simon
19. Hunting Tigers Out In "Indiah" (3:02) The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
20. Rock The Casbah (3:36) The Clash
21. RISK on Seinfeld Part 2 (0:31) Jerry, Kramer, Newman
22. Africa (edit) (3:44) Toto
23. Walk Like An Egyptian (3:19) The Bangles
24. Foux Du Fafa (2:44) Flight Of The Conchords
25. Impossible Germany (DVD) (5:41) Wilco
26. You Have Killed Me (3:08) Morrissey

Disc Two / 25 Tracks / 71:15:08

01. RISK commercial 1990s (0:25) YouTube
02. English Tea (incomplete) (0:36) Paul McCartney
03. Anarchy In The U.K. (3:31) The Sex Pistols
04. I'll Fight (4:21) Wilco
05. RISK on Seinfeld Part 3 (0:41) Jerry, Kramer, Newman
06. South American (3:39) Brian Wilson
07. The Girl From Ipanema (2:53) Astrud Gilberto & The Stan Getz Quartet
08. Run Through The Jungle (2:59) Creedence Clearwater Revival
09. Mexican Radio (3:06) Wall Of Voodoo
10. Tug Of War (DVD mix) (3:58) Paul McCartney
11. Immigrant Song (2:21) Led Zeppelin
12. Tropical Ice-land (3:25) The Fiery Furnaces
13. Dear Old Greenland (3:25) Andrew Bird
14. War (3:18) Edwin Starr
15. Ontario (2:37) The Posies
16. Alberta (live) (3:34) Eric Clapton
17. Slaughter (4:17) Billy Preston
18. Northern Exposure (Theme) (0:45) David Schwartz
19. Anchorage (3:22) Michelle Shocked
20. I've Been Everywhere (3:15) Johnny Cash
21. America The Beautiful (2:57) Neil Young and 100 Voices
22. Handlebars (3:27) Flobots
23. We Are The Champions (3:02) Queen
24. Like A Soldier (Alternate) (2:55) Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson
25. Going Home (1918) (2:26) Randy Newman

A Few Notes...

I wanted my RISK soundtrack to be eclectic, fast-paced (mostly), and FUN. No politics, and, as this isn't a Social Studies lesson, I wasn't interested in "authentic" songs from any region -- hence "Hunting Tigers" by the Bonzo Dog Band, "Turning Japanese," "Mexican Radio," etc. To sequence the CDs, I basically collected as many region-specific songs as I could and arranged them as a tour across the RISK map, starting in Australia, traveling through Asia, Africa, and Europe, and then performing a "Malachi Crunch" of the United States between Iceland/Greenland/Canada and South & Central America.

Interspersed with these songs were songs that referred to war, conflict, and defeat or triumph. I also used sound-bites from the two most prominent appearances by RISK on television that I'm aware of, LOST and Seinfeld. The "war" songs are also specifically placed; for example, "We Can Work It Out" reflects the optimism of the early stages of the game, when people make alliances and try to shore up their positions, while "You Have Killed Me" represents the first player eliminated from the game and "Slaughter" is what happens at the end when people start turning in sets of cards for massive numbers of armies.

As with any good compilation, I've been turned on to some new music, and been reinvigorated towards some old music. I knew "Mexican Radio" and "Turning Japanese" from hours of MTV watching in the 1980s, but never would have purchased them if not for this comp. I'd never heard the Andrew Bird or Fiery Furnaces songs, but they were too perfect NOT to use. "Down Under" reminded me that Men At Work were pretty damn cool, and "Alphabet of Nations" was a post-New Year's addition suggested by my sister, whose daughter listens to They Might Be Giants' kiddie albums.

When I was working on this -- in a continuous marathon session from 5:00 pm Friday night until 10 am Saturday morning -- I searched the interwebs for other examples of RISK playlists, certain that others had preceded me. I figured I might find a song or two that I had overlooked, but I was shocked to not find a single mention of anyone listing RISK-themed music. So if you stumble upon this, and you love RISK and music, check it out. All of these songs are available on iTunes or Amazon. Enjoy!

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