“The secret for me with the Reverend Al Green is generally to catch him when he’s in a less reverend phase. Which is definitely the case with Love Ritual, a track I originally discovered via a mid-90s remix. Which got me looking for the original vinyl, which was easy enough to find. And it was better. More emphasis on the vocals, and thus the soul, set in motion by the groove, but not bound by it.” (Philip Random)
First of all, the Cabaret Voltaire that mattered most was the one that operated in Zurich for maybe six months in 1916, out of which came the movement known as Dada which, it’s entirely conceivable, saved the world, perhaps the entire universe. It’s true. The other Cabaret Voltaire (straight outa Sheffield), wasn’t exactly trivial either. Starting in 1973, they shamelessly put noise to tape and called it music. Come the 1980s, they were evolving somewhat, taking on the clubs with the likes of Yashar, which did a solid job of both making people move, and informing those people that there were magnitudes more of them on earth than anybody was letting on.
“The Blackouts didn’t last very long before breaking up and getting more or less absorbed by Ministry – the rhythm section anyway, Paul Barker and Bill Rieflin, and just in time to propel that outfit to world pummeling fame and/or notoriety. And it’s all there in Everglades, the twelve minute plus A-side of their Lost Souls Club EP, the only record of theirs I ever heard. And honestly, I don’t think I ever made it to the B-side more than once. Because once Everglades hooked me, there was no going anywhere else. Just so much to explore.” (Philip Random)
As the story goes, David Crosby‘s girlfriend Christine Hinton had recently been killed in a car accident, and out of the haze of grief (and with a lot of help from his friends) came 1971’s If Only I Could Remember My Name, his first and best solo album, and one of the finest folk-based, free-form exploratory records of any era. Case in point, the mostly instrumental What Are Their Names? which just sort of creeps along at first but by the time it’s done, it’s delivered a defiant punch. Like hanging out with your friends, getting high, yet bemoaning the deep inequities of the world, how the rich keep on getting richer and the poor just keep getting eaten. And guess what? The masters of war behind it all live just over yonder hill. Perhaps we should go pay them a visit, do a little sharing.
“By 1971’s Islands, their fourth album in barely two years, the force of mind and nature known as King Crimson were not so much lost as just a very long way from shore. Down to only two of the original five members, and one of them (Pete Sinfield) had never provided much in the way of actual music, just “… words, sounds and visions, cover design and painting, production” (and in fact, he was on his way out, Islands would be his last Crimson involvement). Robert Fripp, on the other hand, was firmly ensconced on whisper-to-apocalyptic-howl guitar, with Sailor’s Tale a particularly powerful offering. Just wait until whatever high you’re riding is at its peak, then crank the sound system and wait for that sucker punch eruption at around the 4-and-a-half minute point. Not a sudden eruption from silence. No this is far trickier than that. Because the song’s already charging along at that point. It just suddenly goes way further. The earth shakes. The skies open. A gaping hole gets blown from the jigsaw of time.” (Philip Random)
“As with pretty much every band or artist that lasts for more than a couple or three albums, there is more than one Pink Floyd. And much as I can say wonderful things about at least four of them, it’s the first I get most rapturous about. The Syd Barrett Floyd, the madly off in every imaginable direction, with equal emphasis on ‘madly’ and ‘every’ and ‘imaginable’. Call it psychedelic, I guess, but only if you mean the real stuff, drenched in Owsley grade LSD25 and spraying it in all directions, dosing everyone it touches, so not a particular sound so much as an open door, or perhaps a collapsed dam. Whatever it is, you can perhaps hear it best in Astronomy Domine, side one track one of the first Pink Floyd album, and the only one to feature an intact (though that’s arguable) Syd Barrett on vocals and guitar and overall sonic commitment toward the heart of the sun.” (Philip Random)
“Alice Cooper and puberty found me at roughly the same moment, which means 1971’s Love it to Death was around at least a year old before I even heard about the freak named Alice who was not a she, and all the other rumoured atrocities. But the bigger shock, I guess, was just how strong the actual music was, and the band playing it. Yeah, it was all sick and evil, no question, but it was also dramatic, melodic, and come the bulk of side two, epic. Three songs all spilling into each other. First a little ditty about Jesus apparently, stuck in hell, then family man Dwight Fry’s widescreen descent into insanity and finally, incongruously, a heartfelt and hopeful closer which I’d eventually discover was a Rolf Harris original.” (Philip Random)
“We’ve all gotta start somewhere. Before I got seriously hooked by the superlative noise of rock-roll-psyche-whatever-you-want-to-call-it (sometime safely before my tenth birthday in the form of The Beatles Revolution the shorter, sharper, nastier version), I only really cared for one so-called pop album: What Now My Love, a 1966 chart topper from Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (who weren’t from Tijuana, they weren’t even Mexican). Because it was the only halfway modern slab of vinyl in my parents’ collection. And now it’s in mine, the same original record (proudly slotted between the Allman Bros and Amon Duul), because it’s actually pretty darned fine in a sangria-soaked suburban backyard barbecue sort of way. Smooth Latin rhythms and sunny day melodies and occasional gushes of rapture like the part at the end of It Was A Very Good Year when the strings come swooping in like the gods themselves. What sentimental eight year old (of any age) ever needed anything more?” (Philip Random)
The Fleetwood Mac story is long and confusing if nothing else. We all know the stuff that made them mega-rich and cocaine famous, but there’s an entire decade that precedes all that, and deep it goes, often with completely different singers and players working entirely different worlds and angles. Except the rhythm section, Mr. Fleetwood and Mr. Mac. You might even say the original line-up isn’t just the best Mac, they’re one of the best damned bands EVER, with guitarist Peter Green spearheading things, taking the old school blues, amplifying and psychedelicizing them, giving us stuff that barreled along neck and neck with what guys like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page were doing at the time. 1969’s Then Play On is the key album, capturing not just the breadth Mr. Green’s genius, but also hints of the psychosis that would soon tear him apart. Beautiful and gone, lost to ozone whilst Searching for Madge.