“It says 1974 on the cover but Brian Eno‘s second solo album Taking Tiger Mountain (by strategy) will always be pure 1981 for me. Weird and oft times jagged pop was pretty much perfectly in synch with the times and thus not at all afraid to just dissolve into abstraction if necessary. Which was fine by me given all the acid I was taking. I needed those dissolutions, like at the end of The Great Pretender when the crickets (or whatever they are) just take over, suck us into the insect realm, alien and strange.” (Philip Random)
It’s 1975 and if you’re Neil Young, you’re hanging out in sunny California, feeling a decade older than you were three years ago, but at least the drugs are good, and sometimes the smog ain’t so bad, particularly when Crazy Horse drops by. Just plug in and play so loud it actually cuts through the haze, and mystical birds of great danger are seen soaring high, fierce and beautiful.
In which Rupert Hine (better known as producer than performer) reminds us that the best music of the early 1980s generally wasn’t that nice at all deep down inside, but rather deep with shadow, strange eruptions, queasy feelings of madness, suspicion, and vertigo. The album Immunity is a rare gem, full of such stuff. Nothing remotely normal about any of it.
It’s 1973 and the times may be grim but the Temptations (and producer Norman Whitfield) are in full, expansive, beautiful bloom (riding as they are on the mega-success of 1972’s Papa was a Rolling Stone). But the focus now is not the past, but seventeen years into the future, the dawning of the 1990s, not that not much has changed. There still ain’t no justice.
The only Beach Boys track on the countdown list is as good a time as any to reference the guidelines, the key ones in this case being A. if Philip Random didn’t have it on vinyl as of August 2000, it doesn’t matter how good it is, the song doesn’t qualify, and B. it has to be something the average person probably hadn’t heard (also as of August 2000 – a few of these tracks have since gained some much deserved notoriety), which means no chart-toppers, no inescapable big deal pop items already played lots on commercial radio and/or heard in commercials themselves, or in big deal movies or TV shows, or video games, or in any other way already exposed out there in the culture. So, in the case of the Beach Boys, we only get one selection, “… the easy, breezy, really quite cool Leaving this Town (found on 1973’s Holland), because everything else I’d care to share has either A. proven impossible to find on vinyl at non-ridiculous collectors prices, or B. popular enough already.” (Philip Random)
“It took me three albums before I finally got Talking Heads, the aptly named Fear of Music being one of those long players that absolutely does not have a weak moment (even the radio ad was a killer). From ballads to groovers to psyche outs to the powerhouse doom of Memories Can’t Wait, it was so good it was scary. But good luck hearing anything but the one song on the commercial rock radio of 1979 (and even that was mostly scarce). No doubt about it – the music industry was scared to f***ing death by stuff of the depth and quality of Fear of Music. So if you wanted to hear it, you had to go out and actually buy it, or tape a friend’s copy, kill the whole stupid industry. It was a tough job but somebody had to do it.” (Philip Random)
West German hippie artist types Amon Duul weren’t even a band really, more committed to overthrowing the whole corrupt western system than something as bourgeois as “making it” in music. Which led to an inevitable split. Who knows what happened to the politicos? But the others renamed themselves Amon Duul II and unleashed an album called Phallus Dei (translating as God’s Phallus) upon the world. And big and virile and scary it was, particularly the side long title track.
“Back in the day, I was known to argue loudly that Pornography was the only Cure album the world ever needed, a singular masterpiece of darkness, doom and fecund seaminess. But I was wrong. Because the Cure have certainly conquered other peaks, and sometimes Pornography does get a little murky. But Hanging Garden definitely rises above, all pounding rhythms and bleak forward motion, redolent indeed of 1982. The sleet heavy rains of eternal winter were falling hard, but still we struggled for the light.” (Philip Random)
The Solid Time of Change is our overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era – 661 selections from 1965 through 1979 with which we hope to do justice to a strange and ambitious time indeed, musically speaking.
Part Thirty-Seven of the journey went as follows:
Pink Floyd – one of these days
Triumvirat – Mister Ten Percent
Triumvirat – million dollars
Beatles – tomorrow never knows
Hawkwind – silver machine
Soft Machine – moon in June [excerpts]
Robert Wyatt – Alifib
Robert Wyatt – Alifie
Robert Wyatt – little red robin hood goes riding
David Bowie – quicksand
Genesis – stagnation
Peter Hammill – (this side of) the looking glass
Van Der Graaf Generator – house with no door
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