“It’s perhaps hard to imagine now, but come the mid-1980s, so called psychedelic rock was pretty much absent as a musical force, even as an underground item. Chalk it up, I guess, to being two decades on from your various Beatles, Hendrix, Byrds, Cream (and related) eruptions and seductions, and the culture maybe just needing a break for a while. And yet, Love + Rockets sounded just fine to my ears. They were Bauhaus basically, without the singer, which, of course, made a big difference, still conjuring cool moods and working powerful dynamics, but they’d left Dracula’s castle in the rearview, opted for a brighter, sweeter, more colourful set (and setting). Look no further than a title like Yin and Yang and The Flowerpot Man, though the song actually seems to be about the mystical-magical virtues of alcohol, strangely enough.” (Philip Random)
King of the Hill was the Minutemen‘s version of consciously selling out. It said so on the cover, Project: Mersh. Record company big-wigs, pouring over the data, brainstorming how to shift more units, having a eureka moment. “I got it! We’ll have them write hit songs!” Good for a laugh. But then the word hit that D. Boon, the big guy that played guitar and sang and wrote most of their songs, was dead, killed in a van crash in Arizona. A brutal end to what had been a damned fine story.
“I probably heard Roy Harper at the time, Highway Blues jangling away on one of the cool FM radio stations that I was just starting to really explore in 1973. So much of that sort of long haired cosmic truth telling at the time. But it would be the 1980s before I really discovered Lifemask, going through my mid-decade retro-phase (that’s never really ended, it’s true). It was Mr. Harper’s voice that hooked me, the loose, confident freedom of it. Whatever he was on about, you were glad he was getting it out, making sense at least to himself out on that lonely highway.” (Philip Random)
“Every generation has its pluses and minuses. Born in 1959 means you pretty much missed the 1960s entirely, except from an outside-looking-in little kid’s perspective. Turn eleven in 1970 and you’ve got the Beatles breaking up, Bob Dylan going into hiding, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin all dead within three months. On the other hand, turn thirteen in 1972 and you had the likes of Cat Stevens riding high not just in charts but also in terms of serious artistic cred. Here was a guy laying it all out for you, direct from his cosmic soul — the nebulous and paradoxical truth about this, that, life in general. All just a maze of doors which opened from the side I was on. I still believe that. Just keep pushing hard, boy, try as you may, you’ll end up where you started from. Not sure about the last part though.” (Philip Random)
“Fashion victims, we called them. Also sophistos, or simply haircuts. But the correct term was New Romantic. And we could make all the fun we wanted, they had some of the best tunes for a while, with Fade To Grey particularly notable, because it was Visage, Steve Strange‘s group, the guy who’d started it all, shrugged off the ugly extremes of punk and replaced them with a more alluring and androgynous aesthetic – equal parts beautiful and absurd. Glam retro-fitted for the 1980s. And Fade To Grey was definitely beautiful.” (Philip Random)
“The 12-inch single version of Big City is the one for me, Spacemen 3 locking things into extended and ethereal trance mode for many long and hypnotic minutes. A driving song, I figure, ideal for being alone in a great big city. Nothing to do but cruise your solitude, bright lights, lots of shadow.” (Philip Random)
How do you tell if there’s a hippie in the room? Say, “Jesus was a Capricorn.” Hippies must immediately follow with, “He ate organic food“. It’s in their training. But that’s okay. It’s a solid tune – Kris Kristofferson likening our great lord and saviour ™ to the hippies of his day, and suggesting that were he to wander down Main Street, he’d likely suffer the same old brutal fate as 1,972 years previous. Because everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on, someone to feel better than, any time they please.
“In which Sonic Youth muck around with drum machines and whatever, take the piss out of a Madonna song, turn it into a zeitgeist-defining masterpiece. At least, that’s what my friend Martin thought. And he was a loud guy, persuasive. Indeed, there was a brief chunk of 1989 when Into The Groovy really was the greatest record ever, in the history of all humankind. Why argue?” (Philip Random)
“Patrick Gallagher was my life’s first full-on Beatles fan. Every Christmas, he’d get a new Beatles album. In 1968, that meant the White Album, two records exploring all kinds of extremes, most of them miles over our tiny heads (his ten years old, mine nine). But we liked the monkey song. What kid wouldn’t like a monkey song? Even if it turned out to have nothing to do with monkeys at all, but was John Lennon’s take on the great and faultless Maharishi being a bit of a horndog, trying to get his hands on Mia Farrow’s ass, and how this didn’t seem to fit the man’s intimations of higher wisdom and humanity. Also, maybe heroin.” (Philip Random)