“As the story goes, The Pretty Things never got around to Invading America properly and thus they stand as the one essential Brit band of the swinging 60s that never really made it into the so-called Classic Rock canon – the upside being that I never got remotely sick of them. Sickle Clowns comes from 1970, and as with many of the better records from that year, you can feel the change that must’ve been in the air, all the flower power well on the wane, the shadows growing. My English friend Jane says it reminds her of the youth riots of the times, even though she was too young to actually remember them.” (Philip Random)
In which the legendary MC5 kick things so hard, loud and superlative that the very rules of physics break down, all known boundaries of space and time dissolve, music and noise fuse as a higher sonic form, Sun Ra‘s starship is encountered roughly halfway to Jupiter (or perhaps Africa), and entire galaxies are set blissfully free.
No Motown act embraced the psychedelic stuff quite so thoroughly as the Temptations, with 1970’s Psychedelic Shack (song and album) their most obvious offering in that regard. “Fact is, there were psychedelic shacks in all three of the suburbs where I served my pre and early teen years (late 60s, tipping into the early 70s). Absolute no-go zones where long-haired freaky people set snares for small children, to be sacrificed unto Satan in acid drenched rituals come the next full moon. Later, I realized they were mostly just teenagers hanging out, and my parents were full of sh**.” (Philip Random)
“Love were already on their second album by 1966, and hitting their timeless stride. Of course, being only seven years old at the time, I was more into the Monkees, Herb Alpert and Peter Paul + Mary, so I’d have to wait thirty years before I could declare that 7 and 7 was a pretty much perfect chunk of garage psychedelia – short, sharp, smart, and with a nice explosion at the end.” (Philip Random)
In which The Rolling Stones, at the absolute peak of their late 1960s form, wax artful, poetic, Dylanesque even as to the nature of life, the universe, everything – and conclude it’s all just a jigsaw puzzle more or less. But not before twenty-thousand grandmas are seen waving hankies, burning pension checks, shouting it’s not fair.
The truly astonishing thing is just how many albums Crosby Stills Nash (and sometimes Young) released between 1969 and the end of the 1970s. And bland and self-indulgent and cocaine beleaguered and ultimately forgettable as way too many of them were (particularly when Neil Young was nowhere to be seen), there was usually at least one nugget where the harmonies would hook up, the melody would soar, you couldn’t help but smile. In the case of 1972’s imaginatively titled Graham Nash and David Crosby, that would’ve been Frozen Smiles.
“I was just starting to take Bob Marley seriously when he died in 1981. So a comparatively obscure album cut like Babylon System didn’t find me until the 1990s sometime. Which was as good a time as any for an outside opinion on the evils inherent in the vampiric empire I was inextricably part of, by the very nature of where and when I was born, not to mention the pale shade of my skin. Sucking the blood of the children and the sufferers day by day.” (Philip Random)
“Premonition was the first Simple Minds track I ever heard, and it came via mixtape – the follow up to an argument I’d had with a friend about so-called New Wave music. Simplistic and annoying (my opinion) versus the cool sound of the future (his opinion). I was wrong. The proof was on that tape, Premonition sealing the deal with its big, dark groove. So much so that I was quick to grab the album, embrace the future, even if Simple Minds themselves would eventually come to truly, unironically earn their name, but that took at least five or six albums, so who’s really complaining?” (Philip Random)
Proof that Led Zeppelin weren’t afraid to get a little funky, or take the piss, The Crunge being a song of search – a song in search of its bridge, which it never finds, it just keeps crunging crunchily along.