Frank Zappa took no prisoners with the cover for 1970’s Weasels Ripped My Flesh. And fitting it was for the music found inside – equal parts brilliant and painful, particularly the suite of stuff that finishes Side Two, starting with doo-wop anti-flower power anthem Oh No! and then onward via Orange County Lumber Truck to the flesh tearing finale that was the title track. It has been argued that the whole hippie thing stopped right here. Certainly the Mothers of Invention already had, Weasels Ripped My Flesh being one of two albums to be released after their demise. Though Zappa would, of course, quickly reform them for further assaults upon society through the first half of the 1970s.
The Mothers of Invention, Engelse groep bij aankomst Schiphol *17 oktober 1968
“When Einsturzende Neubauten recorded Sand, the Berlin Wall was still dividing their home town, a fact of geo-political nature if there ever was one. So yeah, here was a raw slab of pure, impossible to ignore Cold War soul. Little did I realize it was a Lee Hazelwood cover until a certain backyard BBQ maybe a decade later. The Wall was gone by then and even eight thousand miles away you could feel the overall decompression. Or maybe it was all the marijuana and tequila. Anyway, I was lying in a hammock counting the clouds or whatever and suddenly there was Nancy Sinatra doing an Einsturzende cover. It made perfect sense.” (Philip Random)
Fun, strong instrumental track from Low, the first of David Bowie’s post cocaine psychosis “Berlin albums“. Side two is mostly ambient and revolutionary in its way, but side one is where it all starts really: the big ass drum sound that came to define the 1980s (ultimately in a bad way). Credit usually goes to Phil Collins and/or Peter Gabriel, but that was three years after the fact.
“The problem with any My Bloody Valentine record is, however brilliant it may be, it can’t exist in same sonic universe of that same song performed live. Case in point, When You Sleep from Loveless. On record, it’s a superbly textured experimental pop song with a pronounced dreamy edge. Whereas live, in the Commodore Ballroom, 1992, it was a gauntlet thrown down by the gods. Swoon in our psychedelic power and complexity, it demanded. And maybe half the crowd did. The other half were gone by shows end, complaining about the noise.” (Philip Random)
Alan Price (original Animal) delivers a smoothly evil little ditty about how poor people really only have themselves to blame. Found on the soundtrack to O Lucky Man, which is one those movies that everyone must see and hardly anyone has, because it illustrates in epic detail how the world actually works. And it’s funny.
In which Mark Stewart (and his Maffia) lay down a dubbed out dirge of struggle and truth, reminding us that George Orwell’s 1984 was spot on if you happened to find yourself on the wrong side of the poverty line in the year in question. “Trying to pay the rent, the main worry’s job security. The busier you are, the less you see.” Same as it ever was.
As the story goes, Bob Dylan hated us all by 1970 – his audience that is. Which led to the four slabs of vinyl called Self Portrait in which he ambles through a weird mix of everything but the kind of music that was going to singlehandedly trigger a peoples revolution. Just ditties, sidetracks, half-assed Paul Simon and Gordon Lightfoot covers, and perhaps strangest of all, a take on Blue Moon that actually works. Because it genuinely does just sound like a lonely Jewish guy who got lost somewhere in the north country, and now he’s sitting in the dark, looking up at the second full moon in less than a month, crooning away.
Because there had to be at least one Three Dog Night track on this list. Might as well go with a mostly forgotten, comparatively minor hit about how humanity just keeps destroying the planet, one city, one neighbourhood, one family at a time. Because much as the official hype might tell us that the early 1970s were all about your Led Zeppelins and Elton Johns and David Bowies, the airwaves would have been awfully bare without the hit machine who took their name from a pre-central heating turn of phrase for a very cold night.
“A 1973 single from Mott the Hoople concerning the alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think. I mean, that’s what it means to roll away the stone, isn’t it? To rise from the dead, roll away the boulder that’s sealing the exit from your tomb, and get back out there, redeem all humanity forever and ever, amen, and party, rejoice, turn more water into wine, shake a leg, maybe dance some rockabilly. Not bad for a three minute pop song.” (Philip Random)