“Bauhaus, at the peak of their considerable powers, deliver a generational anthem if there ever was one. Though I can’t say I’ve analyzed it much past the title, modest as it demands are. It’s 1982 and everything’s pretty much gone or going to hell, slimy and/or demented conservative types in power pretty much everywhere in the so-called western world, and it’s worse everywhere else, the rich getting richer, the poor getting eaten. In the face of all this, what do we young people want? Oh, not much. Just EVERYTHING.” (Philip Random)
“Stupidtramp as some eventually came to call them were actually pretty darned good until they started selling bucketloads of records. Fact is, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love them for a while in the mid-70s, Crisis What Crisis? in particular – a solid forty plus minutes of thoughtful, innovative, ambitious pop … and beyond. The Meaning gets the nod here, because it’s damned important. Meaning, that is. Assuming there is one.” (Philip Random)
“In which Jean-Michel Jarre offers up an epic smorgasbord of what were then very “now” techno-possibilities. I personally had little time for his earlier stuff (cosmic lite, to put it bluntly, though millions seemed to disagree with me). But with hip names like Laurie Anderson and Adrian Belew on board for Zoolook, it was hard to ignore, and a darned good thing, because the whole album really goes places, lead off track Ethnicolor in particular. Samples before we called them that, great crescendos and unearthly howls. The future definitely sounded cool, and ambitious.” (Philip Random)
The Dukes of Stratosphear being XTC in psychedelic disguise, their first EP 25 O’Clock being one of those sublime moments wherein parody transcends itself, becomes its own wonderful thing. And from 1985 no less, which was about as far from the giddy light of the original psychedelic age as the culture ever got. In fact, go ahead and call 25 O’Clock the turning point, its 25 minutes of wild and weird technicolor pop invention being precisely the kind of superlative noise that could cause a shift in a planet’s orbit.
1966 found the Beatles at their power pop peak, cranking out perfection at a faster rate than the culture could even begin to handle. And Your Bird Can Sing wasn’t even included on the North American version of Revolver. Got stuck on the compilation album Yesterday and Today instead, the one with baby dolls and butchered meat on the cover. Which quickly got pulled, of course, the forces of decency in full combat mode. Oh those loveable moptops.
“Speaking of songs that proudly contain the f-word (and pre-date so-called gangsta rap) I remember first hearing Starf***er at a friend’s place when I was maybe fourteen. He’d bought the brand new Stones album Goats Head Soup (now there’s a title for a pop record) because he liked Angie, the big deal single. But Starf***er (labelled Star Star on the record cover, but we never called it that) quickly became the essential track, cranked as loud as possible even when his churchgoing parents were around. Which still sort of puzzles me. Did they just not hear it? Or maybe that’s what all rock and roll sounded like to them, just one long invocation to f*** like rodents. I guess for some decent folks, the world has always been ending.” (Philip Random)
“Nasty rip of Dead Kennedy genius from 1981, assholism not just on the rise in Ronald Reagan‘s America, boiling over. Fortunately, we had the best west coast hardcore to help us focus our rage, antipathy, spite. Not at anybody in particular – just the general, clean-cut crowd. The so-called good kids, all dressing the same, looking the same, drinking the same shitty beer, getting too drunk to stand, let alone f***, puking their repressed, conservative, neo-fascist guts.” (Philip Random)
“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)
“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-hitcanbecome a twenty minute journey into the heart of truth of man, god, love, EVERYTHING. As long as you believe.” (Philip Random)