War being one of those bands who sounded like no other, All Day Music (their second album without former front man Eric Burdon) being pumped full of the sort of grooves and melodies that could warm up any day. With Nappy Head a most effective re-purposing of the groove from big deal Burdon driven novelty hit Spill the Wine. The silly story gets dumped. The music truly breathes.
“The Brothers Johnson being one of those bands that I pretty much missed completely during my white bread suburban youth … except somewhere along the line, Right on Time slipped into my stacks of vinyl. And it’s all very nice, groovy and smooth, but then Strawberry Letter 23 comes along and takes things to a whole other level of cool and soulful invention. Music you can taste as well as feel.” (Philip Random)
“Sally Oldfield being Mike’s big sister, Water Bearer (the song and album that contains it) being smooth, ethereal, fresh as the waters of Rivendell itself. Indeed, it’s right there in the lyrics for Songs of Quendi (found deeper into side one) – these sounds aren’t just redolent of what you’d expect to hear on a Saturday night at Elrond’s joint, they’re purporting to be the real thing. Which would be laughable if they weren’t just so darned nice. Or as I once heard someone say about Abba – it’s the musical equivalent of taking a hot bath, then going to bed with clean sheets, except these particular sheets are woven from some mystical silk that transports you to dreams of the undying lands found beyond the great ocean of Belegaer.” (Philip Random)
“To my ears, the split that eventually sank the Beatles was evident as early as 1965-66. Because while Paul was getting all moist about Yesterday, John was penning a psychedelic love letter to lethargy, just wanting to roll over and sleep for a few more hours. Which is why John will always be cooler, better than Paul. Or as my friend Tim used to say, the key question isn’t, who do you like better, the Beatles or the Stones — it’s John or Paul? And anyone who says Paul needs immediate help.” (Philip Random)
Speaking of Vancouver bands of the 1980s that never got their proper due, why the hell is Sons of Freedom‘s Super Cool Wagon not the Hockey Night in Canada Theme? Seriously. Found on one of the great overlooked debut albums ever released by a Canadian band (or any other nationality for that matter), it’s truth in advertising: super powered, and it just crunches coolly along, afraid of nothing, elbows up all the way.
“To be clear, the stuff that came to be known as Grunge was alive and raw for years before most of the world ever heard about it. Look no further than Slow, straight outa the mean streets of Vancouver’s plush west side, teenagers with an equal love of punk rock and the likes of Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, ACDC, The Rolling Stones (anything and everything as long as it howled). I remember seeing them one night in 1985 at a small club. Maybe thirty seconds into the opening number (a Temptations cover), the singer (a guy named Tom) was up on the front row tables, kicking everybody’s beers over, instigating rage and ecstasy, smashing atoms by the truckload. Bad boys indeed.” (Philip Random)
If I Should Fall From Grace With God is the album where the Pogues made it clear that they were more than just a rowdy bunch of ex-punks who’d figured their parents folk music went well copious amounts of alcohol and drugs. Nah, they were worldbeaters now, with a raw handle on their roots-based instrumentation that let them go pretty much anywhere they cared, slay any dragon. Only the aforementioned drugs and alcohol could stop them now, which they did. Sort of.
“Presence is the good Led Zeppelin heroin album (as my friend Mark once put it), the mostly sh** one being In Through The Out Door (Jimmy Page being too f***ed up to care). Either way, the Zeppelin’s days of full-on world dominance and glory were slipping past them by 1976, which didn’t exactly stop them from laying down some of the evilest blues mankind has ever known. Even if, in this case, it was a song about taking personal responsibility for the mess you’re in, which, when you think about it, is very mature behavior.” (Philip Random)
“A friend of mine caught Trouble Funk live around this time (1986) while on business in their hometown of Washington, DC (on a Saturday night, of course). I remember him trying to describe the show to me. Like rap, except not at all really because they weren’t rapping, and there was a full-on band. And Holy F***ing Sh** did did people go wild for it! Drop The Bomb indeed.” (Philip Random)