“1978 sometime. I’m home alone watching Saturday Night Live, and BAM! Devo hits the stage. I had heard them already, the whole first album, and didn’t hate it, but I didn’t exactly get it either. I certainly wasn’t thinking, this is it, the true and weird future for all of mankind, because that is what it was. I think. Anyway, back to SNL. Devo did their version of the Stones’ Satisfaction and … well, let’s just say it was a Ballad of a Thin Man moment for me (that Bob Dylan song where he sneers at straight old normal Mr. Jones and says, “Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you?”) And yeah, I wasn’t even twenty years old, but I was already Mr. Jones, getting swept aside by some brand new thing I just didn’t get. Except I wasn’t, because I did like Devo and what they were doing with reality. I just didn’t know what to do with it all. Eventually, I’d realize that this was the whole point. This was my confusion asserting itself, beautiful and raw and uniquely mine. The trick was to trust it, maybe even love it, definitely not fight it, but that would take a season or two in hell to finally figure out.” (Philip Random)
Wherein the Eagles (yes, those Eagles) ditch the regular LA cocaine bullshit for a while, take off to the desert, drop a few peyote buttons and journey long and far and deep and high unto the nether regions of the great American soul, or perhaps some other universe entirely. Here they encounter the legendary Don Juan, who we now know wasn’t even real, but The Eagles don’t care about reality anymore anyway, they’ve got a magic banjo with them that somehow coaxes great sweeps of orchestral beauty down from the heavens and thus all is right, all is good, all sounds quite extraordinary, and unique – to the Eagles discography, to music in general. Journey of the Sorcererreally is one of a kind. Eventually, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy will cop it for its title theme, and no one will even complain.
“Poco were one of those bands I used to hear a lot on the radio and didn’t like, their country infused soft rock being so inoffensive it became the opposite. But not Rose of Cimarron, which rose profoundly from the soft, sticky muck and set the god damned sky on fire the first time I gave it a proper listen. By which I mean, it’s BIG like a great western sunset, with a breeze throwing up dust at least as old as time, catching the rays of that setting sun and reminding me of why I’m glad I’m alive. Because every now and then life, the universe, God, or maybe just a soft rock band operating out of LA touches something epic and eternal and unleashes music so god damned beautiful even the hills get to weeping. And it’s even a true story. Sort of.” (Philip Random)
One more from The Who’s Quadrophenia because Philip Random insisted, “Because how the hell can you represent Quadrophenia with anything but four selections? Quad being an abbreviation of quadrilateral which goes all the way back to Euclid, for Christ’s sake. The whole point of Quadrophenia being that young Jimmy has become divided four ways, four personalities, four faces. And it’s The Rock, an instrumental found way deep on side four, where he recombines, alone in a small boat, storm tossed and completely confused … until these four melodies all find a way to work together toward setting up the climax of whole shebang – Love Reign O’er Me. Which is a hell of song but it doesn’t make the list because the entire planet has already heard it at least forty times in the last three months.”
“The Who’s Quadrophenia is one of the very first things I heard when I finally got my own stereo FM radio – a Christmas present when I was fourteen. CKLG-FM (the local cool station) played the album in its entirety. I put the headphones on and had my young mind blown by this tale of … well, I guess I had no idea what it was about, except the ocean was involved, and motor scooters, and toward the end, some fairly shocking rape and pillage. That would be from the infamous Doctor Jimmy — young man getting swallowed by his dark side. Drowned and I’ve Had Enough on the other hand were a little more about confusion than rage …
… the young man desperate for meaning, not finding any. As for the rest of the album’s four sides, well there’s a bunch more rage, mixed up with beauty and confusion, all working with gatefold cover and accompanying booklet to tell the rich (if not exactly clear) tale of a young man on the edge. Meanwhile the music is epic throughout, as grand as the Who would ever get, which was very much the thing in 1973 and 74. Epicseverywhere, it seemed. The movie‘s not half bad either.” (Philip Random)
Wherein Peter Green, main guitar man for the early Fleetwood Mac, lays down a blueprint for a blues rock that aims to move so far beyond the bounds of either blues or rock that a new name will probably be required – something that contains the fierce grit of the Mississippi Delta circa 1930, waters rising, levees about to overflow, and also the majestic sweep of a Ennio Morricone Spaghetti western soundtrack – that scene where the cold eyed killer looks into the mirror and sees something monstrous looking back. Which sadly, is what happened to Peter Green, sort of. He got swallowed by the monster – the Green Manalishi he called it in another song. Some say it was just money, greed. Others that it was the devil himself. Either way, Mr. Green disappeared down his own nasty psychedelic wormhole, went mad for a while, got lost. As for Fleetwood Mac, they did what any proper blues outfit would do. They played on.
“Second of two in a row from Love‘s 1967 masterpiece Forever Changes, because it really is an album (as opposed to a collection of songs). Or as an ex-DJ friend once put it – ‘I find it hard to put tracks from Forever Changes in a mix, because they always work best next to each other, as part of the intended flow.’ And these songs aren’t exactly out to take prisoners, not obviously anyway. They’re just content to work a warm and consistent and slightly hazy (perhaps smoggy) LA vibe of heartbreak and beauty and colours forever changing and whatever else it is that Arthur Lee‘s singing about. With titles like Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale, he’s clearly singing about everything. But love most of all.” (Philip Random)
“I don’t believe I heard Love’s Forever Changes until at least the 1990s. Not consciously anyway, because it is the kind of album that might’ve just slipped by. Not for any inherent weakness so much as its subtlety and, I guess, its timelessness – its strings and horns and multicoloured melodies and mysteries. It may have come out of Summer of Love Los Angeles, but heard in the background at a café or from the next room at a party, it could be almost any decade (since the 1960s anyway). As for Alone Again Or, it’s all in the title, I guess. Not so much a love song as a lack of love song, yet there is still hope. It is 1967 after all.” (Philip Random)
January 28, 1986. The Space Shuttle Challenger and all on board explode across the consciousness of the world, America in particular. Before the year’s out, Keith Leblanc (drummer, mad scientist, co-inventor of the various grooves that pretty much set hip hop free), will release an album called Major Malfunction, the title of track of which is driven by all manner of relevant audio samples from the day. No sad piano, no violins. Just evidence. Welcome to the future, it seems to be saying. Like a disaster movie with human error the cause.