In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Randophonic is a radio program that airs pretty much every Saturday night starting at 11pm (Pacific time) on CiTR.FM.101.9. You can read more about all that here.
Randophonic radio is currently in hiatus, sort of. We’re still broadcasting most weeks, but the shows are reruns, plucked from our rather copious archives. There are various reasons for this, a key one being that we’re actually pretty happy with those archives. There’s a pile of solid radio in there that most folks didn’t hear the first time around, so why not revisit?
If you’re worried about what’s going on with The Final Countdown* (498 down, 799 to go) – we’ll get back to it eventually. Unless the world ends first.
In the meantime, please enjoy (or not):
A. various random selections from our aforementioned archives as they air,
B. our ongoing review of Philip Random’sAll Vinyl Countdown and Apocalypse (aka the 1,111 Greatest Records You’ve Probably Never Heard), which we’re revisiting one track at a time, one day at a time, for however long it takes.
Wire’s 154, released in 1979, has been hard to ignore with this list, being one of those albums that helped invent the future, gave birth to all manner of sounds and textures that would come to define the decade known as the 1980s, which is now ancient history, of course. But 154 continues to stand up, songs usually as sharp and short as they are lyrically obtuse. Though A Touching Display goes the other way with a vengeance – an epic and passionate display of song as weapon, particularly as things erupt past the midpoint, like a bomber the size of a football stadium off to deliver a payload that would destroy the known world. And it did.
“Being a little kid in the 1960s definitely had its pluses, Tiny Tim among them. What other decade would allow such a sublime and beautiful weirdo into their TV rooms en masse with appearances on Ed Sullivan, Rowan + Martin, the Smothers Brothers, even Hockey Night In Canada? Tiptoe Through The Tulips was the insanely catchy hit, of course, but that whole 1968 album God Bless Tiny Tim was erupting with weird wonder, and my best friend Patrick had it. We quickly nailed The Other Side as the high water mark mainly because of the insane laughter at the beginning. How could we not laugh along? Meanwhile the icebergs were all melting, the oceans were rising (yup, even back then in ’68), yet all the world was singing, having a swimming time, becoming fish, the map having changed and with it we. The man was onto something. Seriously.” (Philip Random)
“I do remember hearing Overnight Sensation (aka Hit Record) on the radio when it was new, maybe two or three times. But it definitely didn’t hit in my corner of North America, where the Raspberries were good for two sharp power pop anthems and then weren’t much heard from anymore (overnight sensations indeed). Which is great in a way, because that means I never got allergic to Overnight Sensation which likely would have happened had it received its due. Which, I guess, is my vaguely Buddhist way of admitting that despite my numerous complaints as the to corrupt and absurd nature of the music biz, I’m often as not delighted at how time-the-universe-everything has spun things out – that there are still some absurdly overlooked treasures just lying around. And thus there’s a reason to keep digging through that hissing, shifting, living landfill that’s all that’s left of the 20th century. Mostly just trash, some of it genuinely toxic, but every now and then ….” (Philip Random)
“I’m not black, I’m not even the lightest shade of brown. But I guess if the soul of a song is true – you get it anyway. Part of it, at least. Because there’s a lot to get from Syl Johnson‘s Is It Because I’m Black? (both song and album) – the sheer frustration, rage, pain, resentment of it, sadly still as relevant now as it was decades ago.” (Philip Random)
“When AC/DC first hit my particular suburb, I was in my late teens and fully committed to the sinking ship that was known as Prog Rock, after which I grabbed some wreckage that washed me ashore on the island known as punk, new wave etc. Because hard rock, heavy metal, riff rock – that was for little kids as far as I was concerned. I was wrong, of course. Because jump ahead a decade, I’m almost thirty now, into a so-called adult life that was in no way measuring up to any of the expectations that anybody ever had for me (my parents, my teachers, myself even) and among many other unexpected diversions, I was finally ready for the genius that was AC/DC. Honest, direct, maybe a little evil, always piledrivingly on the nose whether deliberately hellbound or, in the case of Downpayment Blues (from Powerage, the second last studio album of the Bon Scott era, and maybe their best ever), just slacking off, drinking cheap swill, doing nothing with a vengeance. Or as somebody put it in Slacker (the movie) which showed up around the same time. ‘Withdrawing in disgust should never be confused with apathy.’ Words to live by.” (Philip Random)
“As albums go, few from any era can top Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s 1970 monster Cosmo’s Factory, if only for the six charting singles. Let me say that again: six charting singles. That’s more than many successful bands get in a career. And then there’s Ramble Tamble (the best track on the album, maybe from their entire career) which wasn’t released as a single, because it was too long, too weird, a tough swampy rock song bookending an absolutely epic jam. In other words, this is me, twelve or thirteen, in my cousin’s bedroom, headphones on, getting sent, getting educated as to where music could go — that a song could be way more than just sticky sweet candy to get played on the radio between ads for soda pop and jeans. Welcome to my future.” (Philip Random)
Zoom is about the future apparently (the 1973 album in question being called 1990), though men had already been walking the moon for four years by then, smacking golf balls around even. Either way, this is the Temptations (arguably the greatest all male vocal group ever) together with their producer Norman Whitfield boldly and beautifully going as far (and as long) as they ever would, indeed as far as man ever has, a thirteen trip, which if taken at the speed of light would actually get you to Mars. Not bad for a bunch of guys from the wrong side of the tracks, Detroit.
“It’s true. Van Morrison‘s Listen To The Lion is exactly what you want to have playing when you finally emerge from a prolonged season in hell, a dark night of the soul, an entanglement in Chapel Perilous (choose your analogy). It won’t miraculously save you, make you whole again, but once you (and whichever gods and/or demons and/or friends and/or organizations may have stooped to redeem you) have done the heavy lifting, it’s there to welcome you, take your hand, tell you you’re not alone … and remind you that you’ve got a lion inside you that needs to roar, rage, tear righteously free at least some of the time, else it will tear you apart from within and love shall never come tumbling. In other words, you’ve just got to let it go sometimes. Your soul, that is. Believe in it and, if necessary, get to growling.” (Philip Random)
“It’s obvious now, but for some reason (maybe the Christmas themed video confused me), it didn’t really strike me at the time that The Power of Love was about AIDS, the holocaust that was currently tearing through the world’s male homosexual population (and beyond). Indeed, Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s Holly Johnson, who sang and co-wrote it, would soon be infected and, in the belief of the time, fated to a slow horrible death from the vampire that had got in the door. Of course, last I looked, Mr. Johnson is still alive as are many who were once doomed (all hail, medical science), which doesn’t in any way detract from the power of Power Of Love – one of those rare songs about that most complex of four letter words, that doesn’t diminish it, doesn’t whore it for cheap emotions, maybe sell some flowers and chocolates on Valentines Day. And I think it’s very much because of that vampire line at the beginning, the truth it nails, figurative and otherwise.” (Philip Random)