“They released a few albums and a pile of singles, but for me Frijid Pink will always be just the one thing – that band whose full roar garage take on House of the Rising Sun was (short of Jimi Hendrix) the heaviest thing ever heard on AM pop radio back in that strange, extended season of stormy and endless summer that happened somewhere between 1969 and 1972 (the rear view is always confusing).” (Philip Random)
“I would’ve first heard of the New York Dolls when they were still pretty new, 1973, early Grade Nine. A friend pointed out a picture of them, probably in Creem magazine, guys in dresses, even freakier than Alice Cooper. No mention of their music. In fact, I wouldn’t hear any of that for at least another five years. A mixtape heard at a punk rock party. I’d say they fit right in, but they didn’t. Their stuff stood out to my ears, like the Rolling Stones at their sleazy early 70s best, except harder, trashier, sleazier. Who cared about what they were wearing?” (Philip Random)
“Guadalcanal Diary generally got compared to REM back in the day, because they were also from Georgia and their guitars had a tendency to jangle. But their songs always felt more direct to me, less concerned with being Art, with melodies that tended to get stuck in your head for days afterward. Their first release, In The Shadow Of The Big Man, was jammed with such stuff.” (Philip Random)
On one level, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown was the definition of a one hit novelty act. Light your hair on fire, howl like a crazy person, give the kids something to scream about. But actually listen to that debut album and you realize there’s depth beyond all that crazy surface – a singer who can work four octaves and a band that can cook for sure, but they can also play the changes, turn a mood on its head, tear your head off in the process.
Jerry Harrison being the other guy from the Talking Heads (also the Modern Lovers, it’s worth noting), Worlds in Collision being one of those tracks that employs whatever means are necessary (including big mutant funk, Adrian Belew’s fully animalized guitar, even a little Adolph H railing on about blood and soil and whatever) to drive home its point. Which is yes, we’re in trouble, all of us, every living thing really, this Apocalypse being not a thing that’s coming but a thing that’s here, on top of us, all around us, even inside us, and it’s not going away, such is the wild, weird, stretched-out historical moment into which were born. Just don’t stop dancing.
As debut albums go, the Violent Femmes gave us one of the all time best – teen angst cranked to eleven, nothing held back. But their second album Hallowed Ground was probably even better; certainly bigger, darker, more dangerous. Yeah, they were still all horned up, but now there was also the very real problem of apocalypse, which in the mid 1980s was never further off than the edge of town. Or were those just rain clouds?
Nektar being one of those so-called prog bands that never quite made it over here in the Americas. Maybe because they were from Germany, and how many German bands made it in the 1970s? But they were English actually – they just met in Germany and ended up living there. Maybe it was their live show, a little too ambitious and unwieldly to travel well. Or maybe they were just too musically out there, as they perhaps were with the entirety of Remember The Future a full album concept concerning a blind boy and an alien and everything, really. So we have Philip Random’s abridged version, “… the best parts of side one.”
In which Cream, one of the key inventors of HEAVY, prove they can do dreamy acoustic every bit as well. “I always just assumed this was Donovan song, until one day I finally sat down and listened to all of Wheels of Fire, and what do you know? It’s Jack Bruce. A 1960s artifact either way, sounding damned important, revelatory even. Not that I’ve ever actually cracked what it’s about. Change, I guess, seen with psychedelic shades. And you’ve gotta love that cello.” (Philip Random)
In which The Kinks, a little past their 1960s glory days, stretch out a bit and release one of the saddest songs known to man. “I remember hearing it on the radio as a kid and almost crying. And that was many years before I’d seen any number of friends (and friends of friends) throw everything they had into some kind of showbiz career, and not just for the art of it, but also the glory, the big dream of being loved by everyone everywhere forever. And none of them ever achieved it. Nobody ever does really. Because those famous folks you see everywhere all the time – they’re not even real, just hallucinations created by the hunger at the heart of the Spectacle.” (Philip Random)