555. Wiggly World

“Cool and wigged out raver from Devo‘s second album, Duty Now For The Future, which the experts tell me is, at the very least, their second best. And certainly wiser words have seldom been spoken than ‘duty now for the future’. Because the past is done and the present merely is, but the future – that’s where the wiggle is. Not black or white, not straight up and down – a stranger thing, hard to grab, impossible to hold down. Which was Devo in a nutshell circa 1979, exactly as strange as they needed to be.” (Philip Random)

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556. by the time I get to Phoenix

“Which gets us to the middle distance selection of the list. 555 down, 555 still to go. So I figure it has to be a record that arguably (and I love to argue) could also be Number One, on a different day, in different weather, different levels of love and chaos reigning over man and his world. So yeah, there’s great depth in Isaac Hayes‘s take on Jimmy Webb’s By The Time I Get To Phoenix, and distance, and soul, by which I mean not just the hot and buttered kind — soul that’s infinite, eternal. Once soul gets a hold of you, all the normal rules don’t apply anymore. Conventional notions of space and time become meaningless. A three minute pop mega-hit can become a twenty minute journey into the heart of truth of man, god, love, EVERYTHING. As long as you believe.” (Philip Random)

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557. box of rain

“The Grateful Dead at their most American and beautiful. It says so on the album cover (if you look closely). It’s 1970 and the drugs aren’t so much wearing off in the land of the Dead as imposing a desire for something a little more grounded, relevant to the reality of things like gravity, the ground itself, the stuff we’re standing on (unless there’s concrete in the way). Anyway, Box Of Rain is just a beautiful song. Even my mom likes it. Don’t know what it’s about and I don’t really care. The sun is shining and the dark star has crashed. What more do you need?” (Philip Random)

GratefulDEAD-AmericanBeauty

558. walk a thin line

Tusk was the big deal double Fleetwood Mac album that came after the mega-platinum hugeness of Rumours (you may have heard of it) and thus was bound to fail. Gloriously. We do love it when the Music Biz fails thus, throws huge piles of cash and cocaine and marketing buzz at something that dares to be art. Particularly when it contains genuine treasures like Walk A Thin Line, Lindsey Buckingham not just close to the edge, right on it, and walking it just fine.

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559. expressway to yr skull

Evol (the name of the album in question) is love spelled backward, which is pretty much what was going on in 1991, Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, as Sonic Youth warmed up Neil Young + Crazy Horse, choosing not to pander even slightly to all the aging hippies in the house, but rather to deliver unto them a profound and beautiful and sustained NOISE. The climax came with Expressway to Yr Skull, which actually starts out kind of nice, but then ‘We’re Gonna Kill – The California Girls – We’re gonna fire the exploding load in the milkmaid maidenhead.’  The hippies were very confused, angry even, but I just laughed. The times, they just kept a-changing.” (Philip Random)

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560. Aladdin Sane (1913–1938–197?)

“As I’ve heard it argued, Aladdin Sane (the album) is song-for-song the best of the Ziggy-era Bowie albums. Yet as a whole, it somehow doesn’t add up the way the previous two do, and thus hasn’t gotten heard as much. Which is great for our purposes as it gives us a bunch of cool non-allergenic gems, like the genuinely insane title track, particularly the part where it goes all free jazz toward the end. Stratospheres over my teenage head when I first heard it. But I listened anyway. It was David f***ing Bowie.” (Philip Random)

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561. industry

As the story goes, Robert Fripp shut down the original King Crimson in 1974, claiming an overall disgust with the way the music industry world was going in those days. Of course, it could be argued that was version seven anyway, so many members having already come and gone from the Crimson court since 1969. But the intervening silence was inarguable. Nothing until 1981 when a fresh line-up kicked into gear with a whole new Discipline, which was maybe starting to lose some of its freshness come 1984’s Three of a Perfect Pair. But not on Side Two. Not Industry. That was what the world actually sounded like in 1984. Everything grinding, droning, hissing, giving off toxic vapors, finally erupting with savage urgency.

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562. spot the difference

“If you think you ‘get’ the music of the mid-1980s but you don’t know Tupelo Chain Sex, you’re wrong. The cover of 1984’s Spot the Difference may suggest a hardcore outfit, but it’s not remotely as simple as that. Because what hardcore band includes fiddle (c/o Don Sugarcane Harris) and saxophone in its weaponry, not to mention reggae, jazz and other unbound tendencies? And man, did they kill it live! True, some of the lyrics were rather dumb (the stuff about the Jews roaming around murdering blacks – seriously?). Welcome to 1984, I guess. Passion and rage as big as the world, and about as rational.” (Philip Random)

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563. soul kitchen

“Yeah, Jim Morrison was an asshole, who died for his own sins, nobody else’s. But damn, the Doors were a strong band, and yet they were pretty much nothing without him. And that first album in particular – well, somebody had to do it. 1967. Summer of Love – offer at least a hint that there was a darker side to things even as it was rocketing to the top of the charts. Soul Kitchen makes the list because it’s remained mostly well hidden over the years, and thus, no allergies.” (Philip Random)

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