“My first encounter with Black Oak Arkansas came via late night TV when I was maybe fourteen. What struck me was A. the singer’s distinctly snarling vocals, and B. the band smashing all their gear at the end of the set. Imagine my surprise maybe twenty-five years later when I stumbled upon their first album and discovered they were actually a great, kick ass rawk band – working that zone where the redneck howl of Lynyrd Skynyrd met the deep, evil blues of Captain Beefheart, or perhaps Howling Wolf. And, it has to be said, David Lee Roth stole his entire look from Black Oak front man Jim Dandy.” (Philip Random)
“It’s 1968 and even Frank Sinatra’s little girl Nancy is getting into the weird stuff, with a lot of help from Lee Hazelwood, who, as the story goes, earned himself a talking-to from a few of Frank’s ‘friends‘ from the old neighborhood for songs such as Sand. Which, it’s worth noting, I didn’t hear until after I’d encountered Einsturzende Neubauten’s rather bleak 1985 take. Strangely, Lee and Nancy’s original feels even darker.” (Philip Random)
When Queen’s second album arrived in 1974, it was unlike anything the world had ever heard, unless you’d heard the first one, which very few had. And Queen II was even more of all that — the full metal raunch of Led Zeppelin, the camp 19th Century operatics of Gilbert and Sullivan, the heartfelt harmonic longing of the Beach Boys, the brash pop adventuring of the Beatles, and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, and glam, and prog. And it worked. And if you were fourteen, fifteen years old, still getting by on five or ten bucks allowance a week – what better album to to buy than the one that had EVERYTHING! In the case of March Of The Black Queen, it was all in the one song.
“It seems that Motron and I are still arguing T-Rex . Electric Warrior (me) versus The Slider (him). And he’s not exactly losing with the title track, which, as with pretty much all T-Rexian gems, makes no particular sense until you decide it’s like those warnings you used to get on porn-films: completely concerned with sex. In other words, it was miles over my head when it was new and so was I (more or less), glam being a strange and necessary thing to find lurking in the pubertal suburbs of the early 70s.” (Philip Random)
War being one of those bands who sounded like no other, All Day Music (their second album without former front man Eric Burdon) being pumped full of the sort of grooves and melodies that could warm up any day. With Nappy Head a most effective re-purposing of the groove from big deal Burdon driven novelty hit Spill the Wine. The silly story gets dumped. The music truly breathes.
“The Brothers Johnson being one of those bands that I pretty much missed completely during my white bread suburban youth … except somewhere along the line, Right on Time slipped into my stacks of vinyl. And it’s all very nice, groovy and smooth, but then Strawberry Letter 23 comes along and takes things to a whole other level of cool and soulful invention. Music you can taste as well as feel.” (Philip Random)
“Sally Oldfield being Mike’s big sister, Water Bearer (the song and album that contains it) being smooth, ethereal, fresh as the waters of Rivendell itself. Indeed, it’s right there in the lyrics for Songs of Quendi (found deeper into side one) – these sounds aren’t just redolent of what you’d expect to hear on a Saturday night at Elrond’s joint, they’re purporting to be the real thing. Which would be laughable if they weren’t just so darned nice. Or as I once heard someone say about Abba – it’s the musical equivalent of taking a hot bath, then going to bed with clean sheets, except these particular sheets are woven from some mystical silk that transports you to dreams of the undying lands found beyond the great ocean of Belegaer.” (Philip Random)
“To my ears, the split that eventually sank the Beatles was evident as early as 1965-66. Because while Paul was getting all moist about Yesterday, John was penning a psychedelic love letter to lethargy, just wanting to roll over and sleep for a few more hours. Which is why John will always be cooler, better than Paul. Or as my friend Tim used to say, the key question isn’t, who do you like better, the Beatles or the Stones — it’s John or Paul? And anyone who says Paul needs immediate help.” (Philip Random)
Speaking of Vancouver bands of the 1980s that never got their proper due, why the hell is Sons of Freedom‘s Super Cool Wagon not the Hockey Night in Canada Theme? Seriously. Found on one of the great overlooked debut albums ever released by a Canadian band (or any other nationality for that matter), it’s truth in advertising: super powered, and it just crunches coolly along, afraid of nothing, elbows up all the way.