The Clash‘s take on Willie Williams’ Armagideon Time wasn’t included on Sandinista. In fact, it was released the previous year on the Black Market Clash 10-inch (a loose and cool collection of various b-sides and whatnot), but it came to my ears at almost exactly the same time as Sandinista care of a mixtape a friend made which was all Clash, all to some degree not punk or even rock, more the groovy, strange, dub-induced stuff which comprised so much of Sandinista‘s six sides, pissing off so many of the old school punks (but f*** those reactionary idiots anyway), and very much sucking me in, affirming me in my growing impression that whatever was going on out there culturally speaking, the world had changed profoundly in the last year or two.
My world anyway. Something to do with apocalypse, end times, armagideon – not coming, already upon us, and not really that bad, not if you had the right kind of eyes (and ears). I can even remember the precise moment it all came clear. I was tripping on some middle-grade LSD, out wandering the suburban sprawl with a house fire in the near distance, a calamity of sirens, smoke, people coming and going in the encroaching dusk, a whole block like a war zone. But I was somehow okay with it. Maybe because I had that mixtape playing on my walkman, Armagideon Time, the stretched out dub version guiding me through all the smoke and confusion like it was all just a movie, but not one I was watching, one I was in. Like, here it is, pilgrim, the Apocalyptic Now. Get used to it, because it ain’t goin’ away. It’s not pretty but it may be beautiful.” (Philip Random)
“Because it made John the drug dealer cry. Tough guy, carried a gun sometimes (or claimed to anyway), you did not f*** with him. It was 86 Street nightclub, 1988, maybe three hours into the 19-piece P-Funk All Stars extravaganza, George Clinton and company riding a groove that had been building all evening, just wave after wave of funk infused fabulousness, everything building, building … and finally shifting slightly, evolving into a recognizable song, the one about there only being one nation, the one which entices us to all move in groovy unity. That’s when John nudged me, pointed to a tear on his cheek. If that musical moment had somehow been pressed to vinyl in all its power and glory, it would probably be number one on this list. But I guess we’ll just have to go with the album version from a decade previous, which like so much of the Parliament-Funkadelic stuff, works fine even as it falls magnitudes short of the live item. Oh well. Maybe you had to be there. I was.” (Philip Random)
“Because this is what it sounds like to be free. I read that once, maybe fifteen, some old Rolling Stone mag found in a pile at my friend Carl’s place. Which got me looking for the Allman Brothers’ Live At The Filmore East, and I found it, also at Carl’s place, one our regular Friday nights getting stoned, trying to figure out how to become rock stars. And the thing is, I didn’t really get it at first, whatever I supposed to get from the Allmans, certainly not what I was expecting to get, which was some kind of kickass southern-fried raunch. Nah, these guys were cooler than that, way more expansive, which isn’t to say they didn’t ROCK, there was just way more to it than that. Like the side long take on Whipping Post, which maybe halfway through you think is winding up for a big deal ending, but it takes another ten minutes to get there, like they’re loving it too much, they don’t EVER want it to end. They really were free, and so was anybody that was there at that concert, or even listening to it months or years later. Except it already had ended for the Allmans by the time the album hit, certainly for main man Duane Allman, dead in a motorcycle accident a few months after that Fillmore gig, and then barely a year later, it was bassist Berry Oakley, another motorcycle, same basic neighbourhood. The cost of freedom, I guess.” (Philip Random)
“Because even if it was only for two or three weeks roughly halfway through Grade Nine, Black Sabbath were the greatest, most essential band in all creation, all hail Satan to whom they’d sold their souls. At least that’s what I heard in Metal Shop from John Field, and you didn’t argue with that asshole. And anyway, who’s arguing with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (the song)? Heavier than all the world’s cathedrals combined, more essential riffs in its five and half minutes than all the 80s hair bands put together could conjure in a decade, and yes, as a matter fact, exactly what you need for air-guitaring when you’re fourteen and getting properly smashed on whiskey for the first time. And then I think we went and smashed some stuff.” (Philip Random)
“Because as the wise ass said, ‘Why did Jim Morrison cross the road? To break on through to the other side.’ But seriously, as lead off tracks from debut albums go, The Doors’ Break On Through is about as perfect as they come. A dark eruption of summer of love psyche-rock that tells no lies, promises maybe everything and pretty much delivers. But the version I’ve ended up listening to most comes from barely three years later, the double album Absolutely Live, wherein the band (via some psychedelic time trick) have clearly been on the road for centuries, howling the gods’ eternal truth to the hungry children of man, all those dead cats, aristocrats, sucking on young men’s blood and soldiers’ skulls up and down the ages, so all the more reason to chase pleasures, dig treasures, break on through the veils and filters and doors that deceive us, because though now may always be the time, it was never so evident as it was way back when, the so-called 60s rising to their peak, storming for heaven, or perhaps oblivion … whatever’s waiting beyond the great within.” (Philip Random)
“In which Nina Simone proves the experts wrong. The Bee Gees peaked long before all that disco foo-furrah of the later mid-70s, probably in 1967 with To Love Somebody which may just be the greatest song of unrequited love ever written, the proof being in the covers, everybody from the Flying Burrito Brothers to Michael Bolton to the Chambers Brothers to Billy Corgan, Roberta Flack, Michael Buble, Janis Joplin, Eric Burdon taking a swing at it … but nobody ever owned it like Ms. Simone, whose pumped up 1969 take removes all adornments, just tells it like it is-was-will-always-be. I lost somebody. I’m broken. I don’t think I’ll ever be fixed. At least I still believe in my soul.” (Philip Random)