“It would’ve been the late 1970s sometime when I first heard Kool and the Gang, and I didn’t like them at all. Too easy and smooth – the wrong kind of radio friendly. But jump ahead fifteen years or so and I was moving backward, getting archaeological as I dug through the stacks upon stacks of old vinyl that everybody was dumping at the time. Which inevitably got me to their better, cooler, funkier early stuff, starting with 1975’s Spirit of the Boogie. Apparently, even James Brown was afraid of them at time. Too dangerous to have on while he was driving, he said.” (Philip Random)
Masterpiece was the Temptations‘ first album post the mega success of Papa Was A Rolling Stone, and it’s truth in advertising, with producer-writer-arranger Norman Whitfield set free to make the most (in a widescreen sort of way) of the best all male vocal outfit ever. Law of the Land stands out for the way it thunders along, and the tough tale it has to tell.
It’s Britain, 1977, and if you’re not punk, you’re not worth knowing. Unless you’re the Stranglers, who were more like punk’s mean older brother, more sophisticated, and tougher in a street fighting sort of way. Also, they had a sort of existential edge as a song like Get A Grip On Yourself makes clear. Yeah, society’s f***ed, the world’s going up in apocalyptic frames. No reason to lose your cool, man.
“If I haven’t seen Repo Man twenty times, I’ve definitely seen it ten. But I still couldn’t tell you how it ends exactly. Something to do with Otto getting into the car with the wigged out mechanic guy Miller … and going for a ride. And then what happens after that? Anything? Does the movie just end? Clearly, it doesn’t matter. Repo Man is a movie of scenes and moments, with more superlative pieces than any random ten Oscar winners put together. And one of them is definitely that scene with the flying car, mainly because of the music. A track called Reel Ten by the band known as the Plugz, who I otherwise know nothing about, except somebody told me they played on Letterman once with Bob Dylan.” (Philip Random)
“Are Can still the greatest band that most people have never heard? Probably. If you are perhaps one of those, Future Days (song and album) is as good an entry point as any, marking both the peak and the end of their glory days. Not that they didn’t still have some great music in them post 1973, it would just never get back to such a strange and etherea peak. Because singer, vocalist, lead madman Damo Suzuki was slowly fading away, not to return. Like a bittersweet dream of the future that actually came true, because there I was, a good ten or twelve years after the fact, hearing it for the first time myself, and it was perfect, it was exactly what the mid-80s felt like. Living in the future, ready or not.” (Philip Random)
“A big part of the genius of the post-Syd-Barrett-pre-Dark-Side-of-the-Moon Pink Floyd is just how scattered, unformed, incomplete so much of it is – the various albums and soundtracks and loose pieces arriving more like strange and fabulous reports on an ongoing indefinable work in progress than anything remotely complete. Case in point, the numerous versions of Careful With That Axe Eugene floating around (at least one going by a different title altogether). If I had to choose only one though, it would be the live version found on side one of Ummagumma, simply because it scared the hell out of me the first time I heard it. Grade Seven sometime, a friend’s older brother having some good clean bloodcurdling fun with us on a dark winter’s night.” (Philip Random)
“A friend brought this rare Tall Dwarfs nugget back from New Zealand in the mid-80s sometime. Garage-psychedelia by way of lo-fi bedroom recording that was as sharp, as grimy, as fresh, as messy as anything else the world was offering me at the time. Crush makes the list for the sheer urgency of its groove, the cardboard box sounding drum sound, and the sort of reverse-punk lyric. How do you feel when you find that the whole world hates you? Like a slugbuckethairybreath monster apparently.” (Philip Random)
“My first encounter with Black Oak Arkansas came via late night TV when I was maybe fourteen. What struck me was A. the singer’s distinctly snarling vocals, and B. the band smashing all their gear at the end of the set. Imagine my surprise maybe twenty-five years later when I stumbled upon their first album and discovered they were actually a great, kick ass rawk band – working that zone where the redneck howl of Lynyrd Skynyrd met the deep, evil blues of Captain Beefheart, or perhaps Howling Wolf. And, it has to be said, David Lee Roth stole his entire look from Black Oak front man Jim Dandy.” (Philip Random)
“It’s 1968 and even Frank Sinatra’s little girl Nancy is getting into the weird stuff, with a lot of help from Lee Hazelwood, who, as the story goes, earned himself a talking-to from a few of Frank’s ‘friends‘ from the old neighborhood for songs such as Sand. Which, it’s worth noting, I didn’t hear until after I’d encountered Einsturzende Neubauten’s rather bleak 1985 take. Strangely, Lee and Nancy’s original feels even darker.” (Philip Random)