“I’m twelve years old. It’s 1972 and there’s this band I keep hearing on the radio who can’t be the Beatles, because the Beatles broke up two years ago, but they sure sound like the Beatles. Bad-something. And then my friend Chris buys their latest single. It’s called Baby Blue, and it’s official. This band is called Badfinger. Maybe three years later, I’m finally buying albums on a regular basis, and one that I’m always looking for is Badfinger’s Straight Up (the one with Baby Blue on it). “Good luck finding that,” says a record store guy one day. “It’s impossible to find ever since Apple went under.” Which was not entirely accurate. I found Straight Up a few times over the years, used and stupidly expensive. Then finally, early-90s sometime, there it was at a flea market, cover a bit hacked but the vinyl itself looked okay. The weird thing is, the song that immediately grabbed then thirty-something me wasn’t Baby Blue, but Perfection. Solid sort of mid-tempo rock, with lyrics you actually heard: There’s no good revolution – just power changing hands – There is no straight solution – Except to understand. True enough and yet all too sad given the tragedies that tore Badfinger to pieces. All the more reason to keep playing the records, I guess.” (Philip Random)
In which Joe Cocker and crowd unleash the other Give Peace A Chance – the one that brings down the house toward the end of maybe the greatest hippie movie ever made. No, not Woodstock. There was too much mud, way too many people. Mad Dogs + Englishmen had a tighter focus, which was a useful thing in those rather wasted days. Just one hot band (a big one mind you) and the wild and colourful tale of their one and only tour together. That’s Leon Russell in the top hat by the way, the maestro holding it all together.
Call Volunteers (the song) Jefferson Airplane‘s punk rock moment, a short, sharp revved up call for genuine revolution at a time when such actually seemed possible. That is, if your hair was long and your soul experienced, and you were one of maybe four hundred thousand standing out in a muddy field one August morning in 1969 between downpours. Volunteers (the album) isn’t half band either.
Taste, straight outa Cork, are one of those bands that genuinely should’ve conquered the world way back when. They had the songs, the presence, the power, even the likes of John Lennon and Eric Clapton singing their praises. But for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. We got two albums of taught, tough blues based r’n’r and then it was breakup time. Main man Rory Gallagher took off on a prolonged and committed solo career that only really stopped when his liver finally failed. And of the other two, not much more was ever heard.
“Somehow I missed Wire completely the first time around. Three future inventing albums culminating with 1979’s 154 at which point they went their separate ways for a long while. Then came 1987’s Ideal Copy, which was way too good to not get curious about, which eventually led me back to 154 and the revelation that, holy sh**, this album invented the 1980s (sort of). The energy of punk driving something smarter, more abstract and intense, taking it way behind enemy lines. No wonder they needed a seven year break.” (Philip Random)
Boys Keep Swinging being one of those David Bowie tracks that should’ve been a huge hit (and it did actually chart in the UK), but the Americas of the late 1970s just weren’t ready for a song about boys being boys, cutting their moves, striking their poses, popping cherries, checking out other boys, looking good in uniforms. Certainly not one sung by a known alien.
The Enigmas are the great Vancouver band of the early-mid 1980s that most folks seem to have never heard of. They had the whole 60s garage-psyche thing more than just down – they actually transported you there, not so much back in time as into a whole other dimension that was tighter than punk and/or hardcore, and sexier, but every bit as hard and fast. If a proper recording existed of their umpteen minute live version of the Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction, it would be way up near the top of this list. As for the Windshield Wiper, it’s a dance. The record even came with a diagram.
They were the Jazz Crusaders until 1971 at which point they became merely the Crusaders, and less of a straight up jazz outfit, more of a funk driven item. But one thing that didn’t change (and never would) was the rich and prodigious power of the music. That’s How I Feel showed up on their second album as the Crusaders, the perhaps confusingly titled double shot called 1. Nothing confusing at all about how it made things move.
In which Yazoo (or perhaps merely Yaz) remind us that in the early days of synth-pop, it was pretty much obligatory that an album include some genuinely experimental side-trips, because why not? But in the case of In My Room, it ends up being way more than just some mucking around with tape loops and sound effects. It’s a smart, soulful examination of angst, loneliness, confusion – all the things that go on in one’s room.