Archive for March 2022

The 50 Greatest MTX Songs

Now we are 21 years older than I was when I attended my first MTX concert (MTX = The Mr. T Experience). To celebrate the occasion I present the 50 greatest MTX songs according to me.

  1. …And I Will Be With You

This song can never be not included in such a list. The American Ninja 2 line is my personal highlight, even though I now practically nothing about American Ninja 2. (Or American Ninja 1.) The modest beat prevents it from a higher rank, though.

  1. She Did Me In

An early song with Dr. Frank and Jon Von trading vocals in the chorus. It has a lot of energy, hence rank #49.

  1. Institutionalized Misogyny

Few punk songs mention Chomsky. Also, the rest of the song is always a fascinating, despite it lacking some of the aforementioned energy.

  1. Told You Once

After hearing this one played three times in a row at Dr. Frank’s concert in Baltimore ten years ago, I just had to include it. It’s a very short song from the “Short Music for Short People” compilation, which is awesome.

  1. The Boyfriend Box

I love it when MTX play slightly faster than they seem comfortable with. This is one of the faster tracks on “Yesterday Rules” and it gives me a smile whenever I hear it.

  1. Love Manifesto

A song from “Our Bodies Our Selves”, the first MTX album I bought. It’s a wonderful early example of the romance + punk = MTX equation.

  1. The End of the Ramones

Maybe I’m wrong to find this song ‘only’ very good. Maybe it’s just because the Ramones have disbanded/died/aged. The idea is amazing, the execution, as always, solid. The ending about the ending is fab.

  1. Cinthya (With a Y)

I struggled to rank this one. The music is great, the chorus melody is as catchy as any MTX hit. Only the lyrics don’t live up to the songs potential. I know it ties in with the second King Dork book, fine. But even in that context the lyrics seem simply uninteresting. I mean, especially in the first book there are so many great song titles (in the context of the story, at least) – I guess I’d much rather get to hear them.

  1. Predictable

A list like this needs some fast songs.

  1. She’s No Rocket Scientist

So March 16, 2001 was my first (and so far only) MTX concert. It took place in Stuttgart at the Limelight. The band crammed 17 songs into 45 minutes (before the Queers played their headliner set). This song was played and it just clicked. I guess the trio line-up gave it even more power than the studio version. Frankly, I don’t really know what the song is about (beyond the title) – and I’m fine with it (for now) – see also #27.

  1. Velveeta

Just like the previous rank, this song was played at my first MTX concert and I adore it every since. And again, I hardly know what the song is about. I do know that it’s a song about a girl, because Dr. Frank said so at the concert.

  1. We Hate All the Same Things

This is a good song, the lyrics are relatable, so there’s a lot to love and little to hate about this song.

  1. Naomi

Again, a song I heard played live – and that way it sounded more impressive than the studio version. The slow groove is something I’m not too big a fan of. But thanks to Jym’s drumming it reminds me of the MTX, not of Green Day.

  1. Tapin’ up My Heart

The “…and the Women Who Love Them” EP marks the turning point where MTX turned from a band with occasionally great stuff to a band with consistently great stuff. The opening track combines heartache and crunching guitars in an excellent fashion. Also, the vocals are no longer drowned in a complete wall of noise.

  1. I Just Want to Do It With You

The quality of the MTX starship becomes apparent when an anthem like this ranks at #36. It’s a fun song, cool guitars, driving drums – all is good. But wait, it gets even better!

  1. Sorry for Freaking out on the Phone Last Night

Around the turning of the millennium, MTX became a bit more 70s, a bit less full-on punk-girl-trouble. The lyrics still shone, and hey, songs like this are amazing. Too bad I never got to hear this one live.

  1. Last Time I Listened to You

A jolly song on disc, a driving force of heartbreak live – MTX played it back when I saw them in 2001. I knew less than half of the songs in the set, having only one album and along with a few mp3 tracks. It remains remarkable how pretty much every track left an impression on me. No fillers at all.

  1. Love American Style

I first heard this one on a live recording that had no titles. For a while it was just that catchy song to me, even though I couldn’t understand a word.

  1. The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be

One of the MTX features I just love is the seemingly constant stream of syllables in songs like this. The lyrics make sense when you pay attention – but here you can also just get carried away with the music and the wonderfully imperfect vocals.

  1. High School Is a Penalty for Transgressions Yet to Be Specified

MTX meets the Beatles – the title is genius, the song is fun. I don’t know if this is the first MTX song with a shuffle beat. It works just fine. It would make a perfect lead song on a soundtrack if there is ever a “King Dork” movie. Too bad that Status Quo haven’t covered this song.

  1. Losers Like You

I struggle with the “King Dork Approximately” album. Some songs work fine in the context of the book. Then again, the band in the book (whatever its current name) seems much less talented, produced etc. So there won’t be any more songs off the album on my list. As mentioned earlier, the best titles are unfortunately not on the album, presumably because they’re just titles in the book, not actual, existing songs. “Losers Like You” seems to be something in between – Dr. Frank played the chorus during his reading tour for “King Dork”. And the chorus is phenomenal! I love, love, love it. Even if the verses are crap – or just not there – this one ranks at least at #30.

  1. I Fell for You

This was one of my first encounters with MTX. It’s easy to see why it was chosen to get a video. It has all the things that make the MTX great and nothing that bores you. If anything, it becomes too much of a prototypical song after a while, if that makes sense.

  1. I’d Do Anything for You

I bought to CDs at the MTX concert in 2001: “The Miracle of Shame” and “Love Is Dead”. You’ll find 0 song on this list from “Shame” (what a shame, “Mr. Ramones” is good and “Spy vs. Spy” rocks, anyhow). From “Love Is Dead”, I count 11 tracks among my personal top 50! This one sounds so relaxed, yet it is punky, and MTX prove that one can sing these words without the pathos of Meat Loaf. Instead, the feeling hits you immediately.

  1. Deep Deep Down

This would have ranked much higher if the lyrics weren’t so disturbing. While I like a good lyric, I can live with a good melody for a long time before I bother with the exact story in the words. (Oh, the benefit of not being an English native speaker.) For many years “Deep Deep Down” just was there, a bit more somber than the rest of the album, which made it stand out in a good way. Only when I heard the incredibly amazing “Making of Love Is Dead” podcast did I realise the murderous plot in this one.

  1. Together Tonight

This is happier than the average MTX stuff. Again, lots of love for the music and the catchiness.

  1. Will You Still Love Me When I Don’t Love You?

The last time I saw Dr. Frank live was in 2012 when he played in Aachen. During the show he asked for requests and I said this title – and he played it! Of course, it feels a bit odd to choose this track when there are 24 “better” tracks coming up. In my defence, he had already played four of those higher ranked songs. And it was an acoustic gig, therefore a song like this without distorted guitars seemed a good fit. The lyrics are quirky, could be seen as annoying, but hey, it’s a song and I like it!

  1. Somebody Who Cares

I heard this one live in Baltimore in 2012 – fun, fun, punk. The lyrics are the all too familiar cry for help, for companionship, for somebody who cares. Only after hearing an interview about it, I realised that the background vocals are shouting “Who Cares(?)”, possibly counterpointing the main lyric. Anyhow, good music from start to finish!

  1. Semi-OK

Two “Love Is Dead” hits are coming up. This one is the perfect song about a mood. Happy songs? Let’s hear Roxette! Sad songs? Bring on the goth metal. But songs about feeling semi-ok? Only the MTX can give you that!

  1. Thank You (For Not Being One of Them)

What an anthem! No, not the Bon-Jovi-stadium-rock-type. The being-understood-and-not-totally-alone-type! This was played at the MTX show in Stuttgart in 2001 – and, as with pretty much every other song except “I Wrote a Book About Rock and Roll” and “Danny Partridge”, there was an instant connection. This is my music. This is why we have guitars and drums and microphones and hearts and each other.

  1. I Don’t Need You Now

Here are some acoustic guitars from “Revenge Is Sweet and so Are You” with excellent lyrics and absolutely no doubt that the singer doesn’t need you now. Not.

  1. Who Needs Happiness (I’d Rather Have You)

After “Love Is Dead”, MTX stayed true to the formula, refined it, improved it, and bam there were tons of great tunes – like this one. Yes, it’s basically the title that makes it great, the rest is ornamentation, highlighting the main point, which has never been sung more defiantly than here by Dr. Frank.

  1. Jill

From here on it’s just killers, hits, highlights, amazing songs, go get them, hear them, dance, laugh, cry! This ballad from “Yesterday Rules” is about a broken heart, a song about a girl, a monument of post-break-up feelings.

  1. Sackcloth and Ashes

The opening song from “Love Is Dead” with its driving beat should be played at every MTX concert, heck, at every concert, right? Yes, I was tempted to fill the top ten exclusively with songs from “Love Is Dead”. Well, too late now. Speaking of too late: It was 26 years ago today that MTX played in Stuttgart for the first time – at the (big, big) Schleyerhalle (!) opening for Green Day. I’m only aware of one setlist from that tour – generalising from it, it might just be that “Sackcloth and Ashes” was the first song MTX ever played in Stuttgart. Ok, I don’t know if the band played here during an earlier tour, e.g., in 1992. I sort of regret that I wasn’t there in 1996 (three years before my actual first encounter with an MTX song). Anyway, “Sackcloth and Ashes” – I love it!

  1. Love Is Dead

That one was part of the 2001 gig in Stuttgart – I was singing along right there, right then. Even before I was aware of lines like “Emotional vertigo was never supposed to happen this time, but if she ever were to go back to me, there’s nowhere I wouldn’t climb”.

  1. We Are the Future People of Tomorrow

The opening drum beat sets the mood, the ultra-catchy chorus delivers the goods – not a famous MTX song by any standard. Still, I adore the three chord chorus and the title and everything about it.

  1. Our Love Will Last Forever and Ever

The animated video made this one even better. Lots of words, great melody, love, love, love. Man, it’s hard to write anything meaningful when I feel like such a fanboy.

  1. New Girlfriend

Three chords, one topic, less than two minutes, and, by the way, an amazing live track. Not that I’ve experienced it live, but even the live clips on YouTube are really great.

  1. Swiss Army Girlfriend

Dr. Frank played this one in Aachen in 2012 and it was the best! Along with the other best songs he played. I love the constant change between major and minor. I love the break before the chorus. I love the chorus. I love the lyrics. I love the “Swiss Army Girlfriend”!

  1. She’s My Alcatraz

I confess I’m not a bit fan of the “Alcatraz” album. The title track, however, expands the sonic sphere of MTX with a delicate riff and a driving rhythm section. Only the MTX can turn something like Alcatraz into a song about a girl. It’s wonderful!

  1. More than Toast

While this is a fan favourite, it fails to make my top ten. Sorry. The lyrics are perfect. No, I don’t know exactly what they’re about in detail. Still, the line “You said you love me…” gets me every time and I don’t even know why! The live versions are usually better than the initial studio recording.

  1. Lawnmower of Love

What an amazing punk love song! In my heart, this should be a top five song, but then there’d be ten top five songs and unfortunately I’m rather good in math. Anyhow, Dr. Frank sings at the fringe of his comfortable vocal range, which sometimes bothers me, but usually pleases me. The lyrics are pure MTX gold. I mean: “I’ve thought of leaving you but where would that leave me?” Yes, yes, yes! Also, the rhymes are insanely tight! The chorus is the cherry on the punk cake.

  1. As Life Goes on, You Get More and More out of It

Another acoustic track – and what a ride this is. This might have worked in a band setting, too. Fact is, no one does these songs a convincing, as authentic, as charming as Dr. Frank. I get a lot out of this song, even after hearing it like a hundred times.

  1. The History of the Concept of the Soul

From the second album “Night Shift at the Thrill Factory”, this is an early example of the genius of MTX and Dr. Frank. It’s not only a great punk rock and roll track. It’s still the only song I know with references and footnotes (all sung in the song, of course). For a while I thought this was a summary of Dr. Frank’s dissertation. When I later learned that there is no such dissertation I wasn’t angry or disappointed or anything. Because MTX means love and forgiveness and a smile even when you feel like crying.

  1. Swallow Everything

The first song I heard MTX play live! Looking back I can’t think of a better opening song. It helped that I had heard it before on CD. Still, the live energy, Gabe’s backing vocals in the chorus, the energy! I was hooked within seconds.

  1. I Love You But You’re Standing on My Foot

By far the best song from “Milk Milk Lemonade”! It got even better when the MTX Starship played it live with the last verse a capella. Few artists dare to have a song title beginning with “I love you”. MTX provide not just the perfect ending to the title, but the song is catchy, funny, punky. I love it but there are still five MTX songs that are even better.

  1. You’re the Only One

“Love Is Dead” is an amazing album, no discussion. The closing song with its immortal line “If my heart’s gonna get broken anyway, I’d rather have it get broken by you” is one of the album’s highlights. It also showed that Dr. Frank can shine beyond the punk trio format, although the ending is, of course, a wonderful way to end an album.

  1. Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba

In some iterations of this list, this was the number one. It’s that hard to rank the best of the best of the MTX. If you have a chance to hear this live with a full band, don’t hesitate! The album version ain’t bad, either. And you can always check out the song’s video clip. Naturally, no one has read this list this far unless they already now the brilliance of this song, right?

  1. Dumb Little Band

This is the quintessential MTX except that it’s not about a girl. Another concert memory: Dr. Frank played a full band show in Baltimore in 2012 that ended with “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba”, followed by “Dumb Little Band” (and an encore). I didn’t think that anything after “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba” could keep up the fun. I was completely wrong. Whenever I hear “Dumb Little Band” I want to shout at the world: “Look at this dumb little band! Hear them! Make them great! Give them the headlining spot at every big festival! Shower them with money!” Of course, nothing ever happens except that I get that cozy feeling one gets when listening to cherished music that, despite its greatness, is unappreciated by most of the world.

  1. Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend

At the Stuttgart concert in 2001, Gabe broke a string on his bass guitar. Dr. Frank used the break to play his song (which hadn’t been on the setlist). Lucky me in the audience. By now, this might be the band’s most famous song. And that would be deserved. Sure, it’s an acoustic song, no drummer messing with the tempo, no guitar solo. Yet, it’s MTX in a nutshell. It faded a bit from my memory while I was busy exploring the vast MTX catalogue. Still, whenever I come back to it, the song makes me smile, no matter how I feel otherwise.

  1. Here She Comes

Here comes the best MTX song according to me. A song about a girl. “She’s so hot and I love her a lot. She’s got everything I haven’t got.” Yes. Yes! Rock on! You see, I’m in fanboy mode again. The parts of this one are perfectly connected, Joel’s harmony vocals are great, the lyrics are amazing. I’m still not tired of this song even though I heard it a zillion times. And that wraps up my top 50 list!