Sweeny Todd were mostly a Vancouver thing, though they did have one big deal hit. But then singer Nick Gilder split, leaving a gap in the lineup for an androgynous glam male voice. Enter local teenager Bryan Guy Adams, but only for one album, because then he also split, cutting his hair and dropping the middle part of his name (and all of the glam), bound as he was for Bruce Springsteen lite world domination. Which is a pity, because If Wishes Were Horses (the song and the album) had some genuine pixie dust in its veins, and there’s nothing wrong with pixies.
You didn’t get to hear much of Sly and Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Goin’ On when the album was new in 1971-72, certainly not if you were stuck out in suburbia. But what little you did hear was enough to make it clear: the 1960s were over, with only crushed and dying flowers left in their wake. A darker, meaner time was on us, even if many were still pursuing deep space extraterrestrial explorations of a personal kind.
Edwin Starr was the big voice behind War (what is it good for?), one of the great singles from 1970, or any other year for that matter. Here he’s pulling back a bit, weary of it all just wanting some way out of the madhouse of modern life.
“The Singing Fools were from Toronto, I think. But the whole world was doing the Apocalypso by the mid 1980s, what with the doomsday clock edging closer and closer to midnight, the ice caps officially melting, the ozone layer officially depleting, chemical spills wiping out entire towns, nuclear reactors melting down, and the President of the USA well on his way to dementia. What else were you going to do?” (Philip Random)
“A story song about the day young David Jones (aka Bowie) played at a hippie free festival and got his mind blown by all the beautiful people, and probably some weapons grade 1960s LSD, because the sun machine came down toward the end, like a vision of heaven itself. And it was good, very good, the entirety of the vast rapture that was 1969 captured in song, because man had just walked on the f***ing moon, man, so now any f***ing thing was possible. At least that’s how it felt at the time. I think. I was only ten, and many thousands of miles away, stuck in suburbia.” (Philip Random)
King Crimson were a force indeed come 1973’s Larks Tongues In Aspic. Bill Bruford (recently with Yes) had just joined and they were well and truly armed and dangerous and unafraid to go anywhere, try anything, with the almost funky Easy Money the closest thing to what one might call a normal song (at the beginning anyway). Welcome to true progressive rock, or as Crimson main man Robert Fripp later described it, Bela Bartok by way of Jimi Hendrix.
Rare Earth being Motown’s best ever band of white guys, their 1971 double live album being one of the all-time greatest concert sets ever put to vinyl. You get pretty much all the big deal hits in pumped up, oft extended form, plus some lesser heard gems like this Ray Charles cover. A band that just loved to play and a rowdy audience that wouldn’t have it any other way.
Paul McCartney (and Wings) still seemed to matter in 1974. No, he wasn’t cranking out Hey Judes anymore, but the stuff was still sounding better than most of the other pop dreck on the radio. Picasso’s Last Words, the last song from Band on the Run, is a loose stumble through various angles and forms which is probably supposed to reflect the great painter’s cubist form. “As with pretty much any post-Beatles McCartney or Lennon track, I can’t help thinking it would be better if the other guy was still involved, calling bullshit, throwing in ideas and whatever. But it’s still fun in a sad sort of way. Feel free to playlist it at my funeral.” (Philip Random)
The Solid Time of Change continues to be Randophonic’s main focus, an overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era (presented in countdown form) – 661 records from 1965 through 1979 with which we hope to do justice to a strange and ambitious and only occasionally absurd time, musically speaking.
Part ten of the journey went as follows:
Godley + Creme – The Flood
Godley + Crème – some more pieces of consequence
Elton John – rocket man
Klaatu – calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Klaatu – little neutrino
Jethro Tull – only solitaire
Jethro Tull – back-door angels
Jethro Tull – Two Fingers
Fleetwood Mac -searching for Madge
UK – in the dead of night
UK – by the light of day
UK – presto vivace + in the dead of night [reprise]
PFM – the world became the world
Synergy – on presuming to be modern – 1
Synergy – Phobos + Deimos go to Mars
Synergy – terra icognita
Synergy – on presuming to be modern – 3
Renaissance – on the frontier
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