St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse #14

Installment #14 of St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse (the 333 Most Singular Records of All Time) aired Saturday, Nov-15th on CiTR.FM.101.9.  It’s the second last program in the countdown.

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 has been Randophonic’s main focus since summertime.  Soul, pop, rock, punk, funk, anything and everything as long as it was released as a single and could be found in St. Steven’s collection as of Canada Day, 1994.

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

38. Orb – little fluffy clouds (1990)

It just sounds so good on the right dance floor, minds floating off with the fluffy clouds, yet bodies moving in groovy time. It also works for driving, open road and no worries, or tripping on acid whilst very high up on a mountain, the whole world spread out beyond and below you, a view so vast you can see backward in time, all the way to antiquity. At least, that’s what happened that one time. Made it #10 in the UK, #13 on US Dance chart.

37. Sly + Family Stone – thank you falletinme be mice elf agin (1969)

Did funk get invented here? No, James Brown did that. What Sly and family did here (in 1969, with men on the moon, and pixie dust from Woodstock pixie still falling like sweet summer rain) was lay down the exclamation point. Set your asses free, mankind. The rest will follow. Made it #1 in the USA.

36. Roy Orbison – in dreams (1963) 

Tip of the hat to Blue Velvet here. If you haven’t seen it, you don’t understand the world you’re in — the weirdness and the horror of it, and how deep it goes. Like a nightmare, and yet somehow beautiful. But that’s all a 1980s thing. In 1963, the song made it to #7 in USA, #1 in Australia, #6 in the UK.

35. Dick Dale – Misirlou (1962)

1962 feels too early for this. Were things really this wild, that early? Certainly not all over. Which is probably why we can’t find any chart info for Misirlou. There was so little cohesion in those days, every region doing its own weird thing … with Dick Dale way the hell out on the waves exploring regions nobody else had even dreamed of.

34. Neil Young – hey hey my my [into the black] (1979) 

Wherein Mr. Young weighs in on the death of Elvis and the eruption of the punk thing, and makes the kind of racket that awakens old gods, conjures new ones, sets even white men free. Though we’re still wondering, is it really better to burn out than fade away? Or as Motron once put it after exactly enough single malt, “I choose to burn always.” Made it to #75 in the USA.

33. Husker Du – celebrated summer (1984)

The acid was surprisingly good the summer of 1984, right smack in the middle of the Winter of Hate. And this sort of punk intensity, psychedelic ez-listening helped make it so.

32. Creedence Clearwater Revival – have you ever seen the rain (1971)

Is it really just about a sun shower, or is the rain perhaps the bullshit of Vietnam and Richard Nixon sucking all the light from the day? Either way, it’s a both sad and glorious record which has been known to make grown men cry. Made it #36 in the UK, #2 in Norway, #1 in Canada, #8 in the USA.

31. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I put a spell on you (1956)

As the story goes, it was supposed to be a standard song of seduction, all smooth and exotic. Except they were boozing that night in the studio and “something” happened.

30. Staple Singers – if you’re ready (1973)

It’s all good all the way through, but there’s something particularly sublime that happens toward the end as the strings swell and whatever that thing is that we might be ready for achieves escape velocity, leaves the mortal world behind. And you can dance to it. Made it #9 in the USA, #79 in Canada, #34 in the UK.

29. Jane Birkin + Serge Gainsbourg – Je T’aime [moi non plus] (1969)

Yes as a matter of fact, sex is dirty. The question is, what’s your problem with dirt? Made it #1 in the UK and Norway, #2 in the Netherlands, #58 in the USA.

28. Neil Diamond – Cracklin Rosie (1970) 

It’s not about a girl. It’s about a cheap made-in-BC sparkling wine that, you can drink the whole thing, and it somehow doesn’t make you sick. The song, that is. It just keeps on bubbling along, crisp and effervescent. Made it #3 in the UK where they’re suspicious of wine, #1 in Canada, New Zealand, the USA.

27. Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) 

It’s the riffs, three of the all-time heavies packed into one epic anthem of raw confusion and despair. Is anyone surprised it didn’t chart? Is anyone not surprised that they went to the trouble of putting it out as single? Philip Random insists it only makes sense if Satan really was involved, the Lord of Confusion himself.

26. George McRae – rock your baby (1974) 

Disco MONSTER from before disco was even a “thing”, which makes Rock Your Baby just a fresh and easy dance groove with the sort of high infectious melody line that even tough guys can’t help singing along with. And guess what? They’re dancing, too. Made it to #1 pretty much everywhere.

25. Patti Smith – Gloria (1976)

Of course this didn’t chart. She disses Jesus, explicitly. Shrugs him off anyway. Yet she still finds some glory worth raving about. Now that’s enthusiasm.

24. Bob Dylan – knocking on heaven’s door (1973)

If you’ve seen the right version of the movie Pat Garrett + Billy The Kid, it comes up in the scene where Slim Pickens is gutshot and dying, and he knows it. He looks to the grimy horizon and he has no illusions. Whatever good he’s done, whatever evil, whatever’s coming — he deserves it. Kind of like what America as a whole was going through at the time. Everybody stuck in the same grim movie. Nothing to do really but take what was coming. Made it to #12 in the USA, #14 in the UK, #9 in Ireland.

23. Frank Sinatra – witchcraft (1957) 

Frank, of course, was our parents’ music (or perhaps our grandparents) — our dads (and granddads) in particular. Except none of them were remotely as cool as Frank. But there might have been an uncle. The one who never quite came back from Korea, or WW2, just got on a train and who knows where he ended up? Made it #20 in the USA, #12 in the UK.

22. Laurie Anderson – O Superman (1981) 

Maybe you had to be there.  O Superman HIT … and it didn’t matter where you were, you paused, you blinked, you said “What is that? Who is that? Did the future just happen? I think I like it.” Made it to #2 in the UK, #9 in the Netherlands, #11 in Ireland.

21. Peggy Lee – is that all there is? (1969) 

Arguably the most existential hit single ever. So much so that it feels like it belongs somewhere in the past when Europe was still forever at war with itself and little girls learned early NOT to see the thrill in anything. And yet the fact that it’s actually from 1969, that year of years when man walked on the moon — well that feels even more relevant. Made it #1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, #62 in Australia.

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