St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse #13

Installment #13 of St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse (the 333 Most Singular Records of All Time) aired Saturday, Nov-8th on CiTR.FM.101.9.

Here it is in two Mixcloud streams, each about an hour …

The podcast of the whole program is available for download here. 

In case you haven’t been paying attention, St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse is indeed yet another Randophonic countdown, with Installment #13 finally getting us inside the Top 40.  Soul, pop, funk, psyche, anything and/or everything (as long as it could be found in St. Steven’s singles collection twenty years ago … the summer of 1994).

The stuff below is not exactly what was said or played during the show, but it’s pretty good approximation.

57. Eric B + Rakim – paid in full [Cold-Cut remix] (1988)

Because it was 1988 and Rap was supposed to be just a passing fad, bound for early obsolescence.  And sampling? What the hell was that? Made it to #2 in New Zealand, #15 in the UK, #65 on the US R+B chart.

56. Isaac Hayes – Theme from Shaft (1971)

It was a massive hit in 1971 (won a Grammy and an Oscar) and it’s never really left the arena since. Yet we’re still not sick of it.  Notes Motron: “If you weren’t twelve when you saw him do this on Academy Awards and absolutely blow the world away, and you with it, well, you’re not me.” Made it to #1 in the US and Canada.

55. Talking Heads – psycho killer (1977)

No, as a matter of fact, the world was not cool in 1977. Nobody got the Talking Heads except a narrow accumulation of sophisto-punks, proto-new wavers, and of course psychos. But seriously. This was the punk that wasn’t punk. The sound that was all wound up with intensity, angst, violence … but normal people could almost (sort of) listen to it. If the radio had the guts to play it, which it didn’t. Made it to #92 in the USA, #13 in the Netherlands.

54. Devo – [I can’t get no] satisfaction (1977)

How the hell do you improve on Satisfaction? You find its inner robot and you set that robot free. Made it to #98 in Australia, #41 in the UK.

 

53. Captain Beefheart – ice cream for crow (1982)

The wonder would be if this had charted, the Captain’s music being (as Philip Random puts it) best saved for those moments when you can’t really stand music anymore. The Captain will save your soul … and feed the crows.

52. Pink Floyd – see Emily play (1967)

High and ecstatic summer of love epiphany of colour, rhyme, fun and … everything. Free games being played in fields and meadows and open minds spilling their dreams and chemicals like great apocalypses of eternal hope … and yet looming menace. Made it #6 in the UK, #134 in the USA.

51. Ray Charles – living for the city (1975)

Mr. Charles takes Stevie Wonder’s protest song to church and all are saved. Made it to #91 in the USA.

50. Dinosaur Jr – just like heaven (1989)

Some songs (even great ones) just need to be taken further, harder, faster than is remotely rational. Made it #2 on the UK Indie chart.

49. Gene Krupa – China Boy (1955)

This came out of an argument as the list was being prepared. Philip Random laid in with his expected “nothing relevant pre-exists 1965 anyway” logic. Motron countered with Gene Krupa’s rip through China Boy. At which point Random shrugged and suggested that Mr. Krupa had somehow played so fast and precise that he’d actually traveled forward in time.  It stands to reason.

48. Gun Club – sexbeat (1982)

Worth repeating because people getting it wrong. Even if the Pixies invented grunge, which they didn’t, it’s wrong anyway. Because The Gun Club invented that sound, fast enough for punk, but deep into something darker, dirtier, older. Call it the blues, or just sexbeat. So, in conclusion, Robert Johnson invented grunge.

47. Tiny Tim – tiptoe through the tulips (1968)

It either makes you smile or want to hurt somebody. But why would you want to hurt somebody? Just relax, kick off your shoes, wander through your uptight neighbour’s flowers, make a mess of things. Made it to #17 in the USA.

46. The Smiths – how soon is now (1985)

The one Smiths song that even people who can’t stand Morrissey turn up to eleven. Because it goes places that are strange and rare and exquisitely beautiful. Philip Random calls it the most psychedelic single of the least psychedelic decade ever.  Made it to #24 in the UK, #36 on the USA Dance chart.

45. Hank Williams – I’m so lonesome I could cry (1949)

Who says white folk don’t have soul? B-side to My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It which made it to #4 on the US Country chart.

44. Badfinger – baby blue (1972)

It wasn’t a HUGE hit at the time but something about it seems to have been impervious to time. The melody perhaps, and the power in the pop. Bmal Nomis was sure it was the Beatles the first time he heard it. So maybe that’s it. Or maybe it’s the lurking tragedy, the fact that half the band would kill themselves within a decade, including Pete Ham, the guy who wrote and sang the song. Made it to #14 in the USA, #7 in Canada.

43. Joy Division – she’s lost control (1980)

The secret to Joy Division in general, Ian Curtis in particular, is that they had a way of stripping everything away until nothing was left but darkness. Yet they still found a way to make it move, wrestle a brilliant song out of it. Until they couldn’t anymore. Or Ian Curtis couldn’t anyway. Suicide may be an astute career move, but it’s still shitty all down the line. Made it to #1 in New Zealand, #1 on the UK Indie chart.

42. Marvin Gaye – mercy mercy me [the ecology] (1971)

Philip Random’s pretty sure the first time he even heard the word ecology was attached to the title of this song. And then some older kid said it was about pollution, how man was destroying everything with factories and oil spills and garbage dumps the size of cities, and then there was that river in Cleveland that actually caught fire and burned for days.  Made it to #4 in the USA.

41. Monkees – steppin’ stone (1966)

The first Monkees single to not hit #1 in the USA, which makes sense, because it’s also the only Monkees song the Sex Pistols saw fit to cover. Why? Because it’s punk. It’s tired of somebody’s shit. Made it to #20 in the USA, #1 in Canada.

40. Spacemen 3 – revolution (1988)

A song about righteously tearing shit up, ripping the world to pieces, turning everything on its head.  Thinking about it anyway.  If it charted anywhere, it was the kind of chart that didn’t leave any traces of itself, lest they be used as evidence in some shadowy court of law.

39. Nancy Sinatra + Lee Hazelwood – some velvet morning (1967)

It’s not either singer that makes this record, or even the song. It’s those strings at the beginning, like something heard in a fever dream when you’re four years old. A tear has formed in the earth’s crust giving way to the hollow earth below … and this sound oozes out. Is it beautiful? Is it malevolent? What it is, is mysterious and everything it touches becomes equally mysterious. Made it to #26 in the USA, #36 in Canada, #44 in Australia.

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