Performance, the movie, needs to be seen. It’s the one where Mick Jagger plays a sort of Satanic rock star who’s messing with the mind of gangster who’s on the lamb, mainly out of boredom, it seems. But that sells it way short. Look no further than the soundtrack and the inclusion of a song like Wake Up N*****s by the Last Poets. It has no particular reason to be in the movie. Other than to be that cool, that on the mark of what was really going down in 1970, with the pulse of revolution very much in the air.
“I first heard Kraftwerk‘s Computer World at Michael’s place. A sort of slimy guy that we used to buy dope from back in the late 70s, early 80s. He lived in a high rise near English Bay, always had the stereo on loud, usually playing shitty soft rock. Except this one time, a beautiful day, sun glowing in off the bay – it was this cool machine music. Kraftwerk, I would’ve guessed, except Kraftwerk weren’t around anymore, were they? A couple of gimmicky robot records back in the mid-70s and then back to Germany. I was right. It was indeed Kraftwerk, still cranking out the future. I was wrong. They were anything but a gimmick. Suddenly, I had a pile of exploring to do.”
“I really tried to ignore the Grateful Dead at first, shrug them off as brain damaged hippies or whatever. And I pulled it off as long as I focused on their more normal stuff. But then I’d stumble onto something like the Blues For Allah suite found at the end of the album of the same name. You don’t even need acid or perhaps peyote (though they do help), it takes you high, it takes you deep. You have no clear compass on where you even are, but it’s a necessary place, you had to come here, with Allah himself sitting right next to you, comfortable, your feet hanging over the edge … of all eternity.” (Philip Random)
“Manfred Mann’s Earth Band being an example of a darned strong outfit that never bothered much for hype or glory, particularly in their early days, but rather just put everything they had into the music. In the case of Father of Night Father of Day, that meant taking a sub two minute Bob Dylan acoustic throwaway about the glory of God etc and electrifying it, amplifying it glorifying until it was almost ten minutes long, and miles higher. The whole album’s a killer by the way, 1973’s Solar Fire. The Roaring Silence got all the sales and notoriety three years later because of the big deal hit Blinded By The Light, but Solar Fire is superior by orders of magnitude, the definition of a rock that was progressive, and at a time when that still mattered.” (Philip Random)
“It’s 1982 and Laurie Anderson, who no one I know has ever heard of, has suddenly painted a picture of the future, equal parts strange and beautiful, yet already haunted. The whole album‘s a gem but the title track deserves special mention for the way it delivers this future — all shopping malls, drive-in banks and every man for himself. And yodeling, hallelujah to that, and to the big science that makes it all possible — those cooling towers off the edge of town, higher than any church steeple ever towered, hissing and droning, liable to melt down and explode at any second.” (Philip Random)
The melody’s nice here but it’s more the overall smooth, mournful mood that sets Albatross free. But, of course, the early Fleetwood Mac being a blues band, it’s not really that kind of Albatross, is it? It’s the kind that you carry as a curse, hung around your neck, weighing you down, reminding you and all the world that you blew it, you killed a beautiful thing for no damned reason. Which is sort of what happened to Peter Green, the man who wrote it, his career pretty much over within the year, psychedelic drugs and mental illness finding each other in yet another implosion of tortured genius.
Some have called 1971’s Endless Boogie a failed experiment, but they’re wrong. Even if main man John Lee Hooker was just hanging around for much of it, letting the mostly white boys do the work (Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Steve Miller, Gino Scaggs among others), it matters big time that he was there, bearing witness, leaning in every now and then to mumble something perhaps relevant to the temperature of the groove in question. Or maybe he really was just looking at the stove, pots full of weird potions bubbling over, setting the atmosphere itself alight.
“Mr. Brown is definitely the most garage sounding track I’ve heard from Bob Marley, which is not a surprise given Lee Scratch Perry‘s presence at the mixing board, conjuring his unique and multihued magic. Found by me on Rasta Revolution, a 1974 compilation of various pre-fame Marley and the Wailers odds and ends, which means it probably got recorded prior to 1972. Not that Marley saw much fame anywhere beyond Jamaica until after 1974 anyway. And then I didn’t stumble onto it until at least 1994. But it still felt fresh, if a little ripe.” (Philip Random)
“Yes covered this on one of their first albums, had some big widescreen fun with it. But Richie Havens‘ original is rawer, cooler, better. And it felt more or less perfectly in sync with my times when I finally found it, twenty years after the face, 1998, a freebie at the dog end of a yard sale. Decades may pass but there’s still no opportunity necessary, no experience required. Whatever that even means.” (Philip Random)