916. best of both worlds

Second of two in a row from Midnight Oil, who by the mid-80s weren’t just wearing their progressive politics on their sleeves, their front man Peter Garrett was actually running for office (no he didn’t win, but he would eventually). Red Sails At Sunset was their album of the moment (telling big scary, ugly truths about racism, nuclear apocalypse, environmental meltdown), with Best Of Both World standing tall as a possible alternative Australian national anthem. “I’d stand for it.” (Philip Random)

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917. sometimes

Rousing anthem of resistance from the Midnight Oil album that finally put them over the top somewhere outside of down under. Philip Random recalls being ambivalent to both song and album until one day in London, “… a long way from home, out of money, lonely as hell, but it’s a nice day so I’m out walking the Strand, and Sometimes pops up on a friend’s mixtape and holy shit, it suddenly says it all. Let the powers-that-be unleash their violence, push us to the wall, beat us to a pulp, we won’t give in. And then I’m looking up at all these centuries old monuments and statues of respected gentlemen who no doubt did their bit to crush the poor, the meek, the hungry, the foreign, all for the greater good of EMPIRE, and then I’m laughing because I realize they’re all covered in pigeon shit.”

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918. I get lifted

In which KC and his Sunshine Band remind us that all disco didn’t suck. In fact, most of it didn’t until Saturday Night Fever came along at which the powers that be suddenly seemed to think it was something you could base an entire culture on. So that which had once been a nice part of overall sonic stew suddenly became its dominant ingredient. Rather like putting too much cilantro in something.

kcsunshineband

919. R.A.F.

Brian Eno and friends deliver a nifty bit of funked up coolness (with samples*) from 1977. The friends being Snatch, the best two woman punk band you’ve probably never heard of, Brian Eno being, as always, way ahead of his time (sampling wouldn’t really be a thing for better part of a decade). RAF first showed up as a b-side to Eno’s King’s Lead Hat single, and later on First Edition, a nifty little 10-inch album that was packed full of precisely the kind of modern music that caused arguments. (*Yes, some of those samples come from a Baader Meinhof ransom message that was delivered via public telephone call. Those were the days.)

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920. astral traveller

The band known as Yes from when they were still just hard working wannabes (a guitar genius and a keyboard wizard short of achieving true escape velocity). Like future teenagers, drunk on stolen psychedelics, joyriding in dad’s spaceship, trying to get the damned thing off the ground, not quite getting there, but beautiful anyway. And it rocks.

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921. Western Pomise

By 1980, so-called New Wave was working through at least its ninth mutation. In the case of Ultravox, this meant parting ways with original front man John Foxx, hooking up with new guy Midge Ure and going distinctly (some would say pompously) Modern with monster album (at least in Europe) Vienna. “There really isn’t a bad track. Some dubious lyrics perhaps, but the feel of the thing, its sharp, pristine elegance, more than makes up.” (Philip Random)

ultravox-vienna

922. where the soul never dies

Delaney and Bonnie (Bramlett) and Friends (Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, Duane Allman, among others) cut loose with exactly the kind of raw, unpolished sort of stuff you needed after a decade like the 1960s – so many young minds burned, souls stretched thin.  Not that I was on that particular track myself at the time. I wasn’t even twelve yet. But I’d get there eventually, crashlanding from my own weird and wild early adult adventures, and then somebody put on precisely the right album.” (Philip Random)

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924-25. computer blue + Darling Nikki

“Two in a row from the album (and movie) that finally made Prince a fact, even for white guys from the Canadian suburbs – that album being Purple Rain, of course. Not that I didn’t already think the guy was pretty darned cool in a funky r+b sort of way. You couldn’t hear twenty seconds of 1999 without thinking that. But after Purple Rain, I guess I just wasn’t seeing the colour anymore (other than purple). After Purple Rain, I realized this guy was the closest the 80s would ever get to having its own Bowie, or Beatles. I’d crossed over, drank the paisley purple koolaid, seen God (or something similar). Every song on the album deserves to be hailed, and heard. But you probably have already heard most of them on the radio or whatever. Except maybe Computer Blue and Darling Nikki (the raunchy duo that brought Side One to a dramatic conclusion).  Needless to say, it got decent folk all hot and bothered at the time.” (Philip Random)

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925. hallelujah

“Give the Maffia at least a small part of the credit. Because it was 1984, finally, and the nightmare of George Orwell’s Big Brother hadn’t really materialized. Yes, there was great evil in the world, agents of control trying to shut down all peace-beauty-freedom-love forever. But the outcome was still in doubt, because THEY didn’t yet have music under control.  Maybe they had the mainstream (the Whitney Houstons, the Duran Durans, the Huey Lewises and Phil Collinses), but who cared about that crap with wild and inventive indie-DIY stuff erupting all over the margins, in all genres and guises. Case in point. On-U Sound and its mainman, producer, knob-twiddler, DUB adventurer, Adrian Sherwood. He’d been at it since 1980 but I didn’t notice until 1984’s Pay It All Back Vol.1 crash-landed in my brain – a label sampler offering all manner of tortured beats, breaks, samples, meltdowns long before we even had names for such stuff.  At least Hallelujah had a familiar melody you could hang onto.” (Philip Random)

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