Air’s Deck Safari: The Best CD You’ll Never Buy

Apparently record stores are so desperate to push CDs, they’ve begun selling albums that shouldn’t even be for sale. Let me explain…

I’ve a big fan of the band Air, which you already know if you read this. Their song “Radio #1″ is where this blog got its name.

The poptronica duo’s proper debut (1998’s Moon Safari) is widely considered to be Air’s best work. It’s my favorite too.

So imagine my surprise when I spotted this during one of my (what seem like daily) trips to Virgin Megastore.

AIR DECK SAFARI: PART ONE

Ostensibly a long mix tape of songs handpicked by Air. Crazy (in a good way) tracklist, but I’ll get to that in a second. $27.99 for the two-CD set.

Checked the record label (knowing there’s no way Astralwerks is putting out something like this), and saw in small print on the back cover:

This cd is for promotional use only. not for re-sale.

So I bought it. Two copies actually. That’s all Virgin had.

When I returned home, eager to listen to a DJ set that would included Serge Gainsbourg, Ween, Soft Machine, Prince and John Lennon, I did some research on the Internerd:

I learned the CD is a few years old. I also found a copy available from an Amazon.com Marketplace seller for $129.99 (this was two weeks ago). From Amazon’s Editorial Review:

Album Description
The sound of Air? Well here’s what made the classic album ‘Moon Safari’ (1998) sound the way it did, this limited edition CD is part one of a mammoth 4 hour journey through the personal record collections of former architect Nicloas Godin and mathematician Jean-Benoit Dunckel. Artists include Pink Floyd, Horace Andy, Brigitte Gardot, Prince, Beastie Boys, Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones and more. * Please note the back cover states this is for ‘Promotional Use Only’. This was intended for select radio stations throughout Europe. Polystars. 2002.

OK, so this is a mix CD of obscure songs that inspired one of my favorite albums? So best. Did I mention that all the tracks blend into each other? You can put this thing on at a party and it’ll be like having Air as DJ. Here’s the tracklist:

DISC I
1.01 David Bowie – Speed Of Life (1:32)
1.02 Beatles, The – The End (1:00)
1.03 Beck – Lloyd Price Express (3:05)
1.04 Rollerball – Executive Party Dance (1:45)
1.05 Dopplereffekt – Pornographic Movies (2:07)
1.06 M.A.S.H. – Suicide Is Painless (2:35)
1.07 Quincy Jones – Summer In The City (3:40)
1.08 Serge Gainsbourg – En Melody (2:58)
1.09 Soft Machine – The Soft Wead Factor (2:21)
1.10 Michel Polnareff – Computer Dream (3:51)
1.11 Minnie Riperton – Loving You (3:42)
1.12 John Lennon – How Do You Sleep (4:54)
1.13 Jean-Jacques Perrey – Flight Of The Bumblebee (2:08)
1.14 Beastie Boys – Car Thief (3:03)
1.15 Ween – Roses Are Free (4:37)
1.16 Cure, The – In Your House (2:54)
1.17 Sly Stone – In Time (5:45)
1.18 Frank Sinatra – Water To Drink (2:34)
1.19 Prince – Crazy You (1:52)
1.20 Kraftwerk – Statovarius (3:31)

DISC II
2.01 Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake (2:11)
2.02 Beck – Electric Music & The Summer People (3:38)
2.03 Air – Malfunction (1:07)
2.04 Velvet Underground, The – Ocean (3:57)
2.05 Money Mark – Pinto’s New Car (2:39)
2.06 Richard De Bordeaux – La Drogue (2:56)
2.07 Stanley Cowell – Travelling Man (4:12)
2.08 Supergrass – Lose It (2:36)
2.09 Funk Factory – Rien Ne Va Plus (5:15)
2.10 Brian Eno – On Some Faraway Beach (3:04)
2.11 Michel Polnareff – Polnareve (1:09)
2.12 Harry Nilsson – Everybody’s Talking (0:35)
2.13 Francis Lai – Generique FR3 (3:18)
2.14 Phoenix – City Lights (3:19)
2.15 Pharcyde, The – Passin’ Me By (remix) (4:55)
2.16 Chic – At Last I Am Free (6:15)
2.17 David Bowie – The Man Who Sold The World (3:57)
2.18 Beck – Deadweight (4:50)

This is the best mix CD I have ever heard. By far. I’ve been listening to it constantly and it’s turned me onto a number of artists of whom I had never heard. Plus, including “Suicide Is Painless” (the theme song to M.A.S.H.) segueing into Quincy Jones “Summer In The City” (without which Nightmares On Wax wouldn’t exist)? Genius. Expect no less from Air.

When I bothered to actually look at the liner notes, I read this:

“The sound of air???..well heres what made the classic album “moon safari” sound the way it did, the cd you have in your hand is part one of a mammoth 4 hour journey through the personal record collections of former architect Nicolas Godin (bass, guitar, vocoder, percussion) and mathematician Jean-Benoit Dunckel (keyboards, clavient, synthesizer) both originating from Versailles, France…”
– Peter Tongles (Paris August 2002)

Note the random use of grammar and punctuation. I get the feeling Nic and JB didn’t approve this CD. The liner notes go on for two more paragraphs, highlighting Air’s discography and ending with a not-so-subtle jab: “Their sophomore studio album, 10,000 Hz Legend, was recorded in Paris and Los Angeles. Released in May 2001, the album’s restless experimentalism drew a mixed response from critics still enamoured by the lush textures of Moon Safari.”

FYI — there’s no record of this CD in AMG. None for sale on eBay.

It’s really quite remarkable and I recommend you search it out.

Here’s what’s even cooler. there is a PART II featuring Air-approved classics from Brigitte Bardot, Iggy Pop, Kool And The Gang, and the Beastie Boys. I don’t own this CD. Got a copy? I’ll trade you one of my PART Is.

I’m gonna e-mail a contact at Astralwerks and see if she can clear any of this up for me. Where’d these CDs come from? Why is Virgin selling it?

I understand if you don’t share my enthusiasm for Air. Especially after Thursday’s through-the-roof traffic day (you fuckers ate up all my bandwidth). So, if you’re a new reader, I promise some more Courtney buzz or at least a semi-naked photo of Britney (Grambo help me out here) next week.

UPDATE 4:00 PM
Met my friend Evan at Kim’s on St. Marks, and found PART II in the Air section. Maybe not so rare? Record store girl said it was their only copy, though.

Tags: Air