About Randophonic

For now, I'm best thought of as a radio program. Sometimes it may seem I'm all the work of one person, other times many. What matters is the program.

95. just like honey

“If you want to know what the mid-1980s really sounded like, slap on The Jesus And Mary Chain‘ s Psycho Candy and it’s all there in the (sort of) Phil Spector melodies channeled through not a wall of sound, but a god damned holocaust of it. And yet there’s a sweetness you can’t ignore, perhaps more obvious in Just Like Honey than most of the rest of the album. But be careful, it’s a dangerous sweetness, because this is an outfit that call themselves The Jesus and Mary Chain, more than just suggesting a pure and fierce and superlative purpose that will destroy the unrighteous. And many were destroyed in 1985, the battle lines being drawn in what would come to be known as the Winter of Hate (by a few of us anyway). And you could even sing along.” (Philip Random)

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96. why d’ya do it?

“I don’t care what all the charts were saying at the time, by 1979 the Rolling Stones were nowhere, and accelerating hard to oblivion. Certainly on record. Which makes Why D’ya Do It? the last truly great Rolling Stones record, even if they had nothing to do with it beyond Marianne Faithfull being Mick’s ex from way back. Which is the connection, I think. Because this does sound like proper Stones rocker, the way she spits the kind of bile the Stones would have still had in them if they hadn’t f***ed up on heroin and indulgence. In other words, YEAH! Why D’Ya Do It? is raunchy and vindictive and unrepentant and f***ing dirty in all the right ways. Seriously. Imagine Mick Jagger singing it in say 1972, part of the Exile on Main St. sessions. You know it would have kicked serious shit. But Ms. Faithfull’s take would still be better. And the whole Broken English album is essential, one of the very best of 1979, or any other year for that matter.” (Philip Random)

(photo: Lynn Goldsmith)

97. a saucerful of secrets

“Because sometimes it’s not about the notes or the words or the chords etc – sometimes what makes for great music is its architecture. Which is certainly true of Pink Floyd and how they made it and played it through the late 1960s, early 1970s, post the psychedelic implosion of their main man, Syd Barrett, pre all that Dark Side of the Moon seriousness and precision. The live Ummagumma version of the ‘song‘ that was originally known as The Massed Gadgets Of Hercules gets the nod here because it’s prime evidence of just how far (and deep and high) the Floyd’s free live adventures had taken them in a comparatively short stretch of time, the key word being stretch. Because it may have been only year in a temporal sense between the release of Saucerful of Secrets and the live show that made it to Ummagumma, but clearly aeons had passed in more psychedelic realms. Never played the same way twice, and even if it was, it was never heard the same way, or so it was explained to me once. Which is what the cover of Ummagumma is all about apparently. Eternity simultaneously repeating and collapsing within itself on nice summer day, somewhere in England. I’d say maybe you had to be there, but I think we all were in some strange and metaphysical way.” (Philip Random)

98. everybody knows

“Because it’s Leonard Cohen (mostly forgotten about at the time) laying out a pretty much perfect summation of late 1980s resignation (and resilience). Because everybody with a half a brain (or perhaps soul) over the age of twenty-one had to know that the dice were loaded, the fights were fixed, the good guys had lost the war, the rich were richer, the poor were getting eaten. Didn’t they? And yet, well, here’s where I drop one of my all time fave quotes (also from Mr. Cohen) as to the nature of life, reality, everything. ‘We do live in several worlds. We live in a world that’s mundane, a world that’s apocalyptic, a world of order and a world that knows no order. We’re continually juggling these worlds, entering and leaving them. I’ve always had the sense that this apocalyptic reality is with us. It’s not something that’s coming.’  Everybody knows this, right?” (Philip Random)

(photo: Claude Gassian)

99. range life

“Because it’s true. If you want to accomplish anything of value in this thing called life, you really do have to pay your dues before you pay the rent, even if you’re deep into your thirties before you realize what this actually means. That We Have Higher Obligations To The Cosmos Than Mere Survival – any cockroach can pull off survival. And if you don’t grasp this, don’t go calling yourself an artist. At least, I think that’s what’s going on here. Because the Pavement crowd were definitely artists, seeing the middle 1990s for the colossal screw-up they were – the demise of so-called grunge, the co-option of pretty much everything that had felt so fresh and necessary barely three years previous, the crooked rain falling in prolonged deluge, smelling of sewage and other assorted poisons … and yet, beauty to be found in strangest, least likely of places. And truth … even if you’re a Smashing Pumpkins or Stone Temple Pilot fan. Damn, I love this song. Forget everything else I just wrote. It just feels like smoking strong marijuana and drinking good beer. In the rain. Who needs more?” (Philip Random)

100. this is the sea

“Because sometimes the music just needs to be BIG. And who better to lay it all down than the band that put a name to such stuff, The Waterboys, who yes, as a matter of fact, were more relevant than U2 in the power and passion realm come the mid-1980s. Because in main man Mike Scott, they had a proper a poet on board, and thus more colours, clearer visions, greater incision. At least that was the argument a few months ago. This Is The Sea (album and song) versus The Unforgettable Fire (album and song), both high water marks, no doubt, but Waterboys had more of it, whatever it is, because water beats fire every time. I guess. What I can easily say now, many years after the fact, is that the album (and band) that still speaks to me is the outfit that Mr. Scott put together way back when, because unlike U2, he found a way to haul on the reins at just the right moment, stopped the whole mad and beautiful thing from charging off into the abyss of fame and ridiculousness which, I figure, mainly meant not losing focus, making sure the music and poetry that infused it remained bigger than all other concerns. Or something like that. Because like the song says, this ain’t no brook, no creek, no river even, this is this, as big as it gets. Bigger than words anyway.” (Philip Random)

101. the impossible dream

“A friend of mine wrote a movie around this one that never got made (like all the best movies). Sort of Goin Down The Road, the mid-80s post-punk version, two smartass losers stumbling around big and small town Canada, having shambolic adventures. Toward the end, they find themselves drinking their sorrows in a low rent piano bar, some guy doing half-assed lounge takes on various standards in the background. Until one of our heroes decides f*** it, he slips the guy his last twenty bucks, requests his favourite song, The Impossible Dream. And it turns out the piano guy is no less than Scott Walker himself, in all of his strange and obtuse mid-80s glory, so of course, he nails the song with all due power and nuance, the big dream never being more impossible than it was in say, 1985, and thus all the more reason to dream itto right the unrightable wrong, to reach the unreachable star, no matter how hopeless, how far … because we’re humans with souls, it’s our duty. I think. Anyway, it would’ve been a great scene in a great movie.” (Philip Random)

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102. cold

“Because sometimes passion isn’t hot at all, it’s cold, freezing even, and few have ever captured this as profoundly as The Cure on the album known as Pornography. Which showed up in my life just in time to find me edging back from a prolonged season in the abyss. I guess these days, you’d just say I was depressed. But nah, it was deeper than that, and colder, all that time lost in a void the size of Antarctica, knowing I could just lay down any old time and be gone, yet ultimately choosing not to. Like that Robert Frost poem about the snowy evening — still miles to go before I’d sleep. And there on the soundtrack of the movie I was only beginning to realize I was in, was Cold pounding home the truth that yes, in fact, I was very much on the gods’ straight and narrow path, which only appeared so crooked and convoluted because my filters were so f***ed up, the right music at the right time always being a good straightener.” (Philip Random)

103. sex bomb

“The album is called Generic. The contents are anything but, the band known as Flipper being one of those outfits that weren’t exactly punk, except what else could they be, except maybe one of the all time essential party outfits? With Sex Bomb my particular go-to for those times when the party really does need to last all night long even if there aren’t chemicals in your blood, just too much alcohol and perhaps marijuana and sloppy stupid eruptions of fun, un-focus, glory even … as we all throw in, do our part to keep this mad world at least in some loose connection with its axis (or maybe the opposite). I do recall thinking this, some late 80s punk party, in the basement of the place they called the Sewer View. A few bands had played, maybe even the Evaporators, but now it was just some guy’s party tape. Probably mine.” (Philip Random)

(image source)