St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse #15

The final installment (#15) of St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse aired November 22nd on CiTR.FM.101.9.

Here it is in two Mixcloud streams, each about an hour …

The podcast of the whole program is available for download here. 

This marks the climax of our programming since June.  So, if we got it absolutely right, it’s probably one of the greatest radio programs ever across all bands and frequencies. If not, we apologize. Because you certainly can’t blame the music, the twenty most singular records of all time, presented here in descending order.

20. Prince – let’s go crazy (1984)

It’s the mid-80s and it somehow makes perfect sense that the single most kickass dancefloor killer of the raging moment is an exhortation toward the love of God and going crazy.  Made it to the #1 in the USA, #2 in Canada, #7 in the UK, #10 in Australia.

No video available. Thanks, Prince.

19. My Bloody Valentine – When You Sleep (1991)

It’s arguably a sin to even listen to this in recorded form as it could never do sonic justice to the live experience. And yet, such is the My Bloody Magnificence of the thing — it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. There is only everything.

18. Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane (1970)

Of course it didn’t chart. It tells the truth. About everything. Children are not the only ones who blush. Villains don’t always blink their eyes. The best music scares the hell out of the powerful.

17. Alice Cooper – Schools Out (1972

Catches the mad punk delirium of the last day of school, reminds us that all the most important lessons happen outside the prison walls. And funny at that. Made it to #7 in the USA, #5 in Germany, # 2 in Ireland, #1 in the UK.

16. Jimi Hendrix – all along the watchtower (1968)

The Dylan cover so good it forever changed how Dylan himself performed the song. As to what it’s actually about. That’s pretty obvious. It’s about businessmen drinking the man’s wine, with riders approaching and the wind about to howl. Made it to #20 in the USA, #5 in the UK.

15. Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman (1968) 

Jimmy Webb wrote the song but Mr. Campbell nailed its sad and true centre. Yeah, he went on to perpetrate a mostly mediocre career, but these three minutes could redeem Richard Nixon. Made it to #3 in the USA, #1 in Canada, #7 in the UK.

14. Undertones – teenage kicks (1978)

Punk spins into pop, conjures a confection that manages to be both fierce and fun. Given Teenage Kicks overall lack of chart supremacy, you gotta figure it all happened just a little too soon for the world. Our gain. We’re not sick of it. Made it to #31 in the UK.

13. Clash – I fought the law (1979) 

Is it wrong that a band that wrote so many masterpieces of their own should have a cover register as their highest selection on this list? No. Because the Clash just weren’t that pure. That was the attraction. They were a raging guerrilla battle all the way, all the time. Name a tactic. They used it. Did the Law win in the end? Who said it was over? Made it to #24 in Ireland.

12. Johnny Cash – ring of fire (1963)

About as happy a song about going to hell as we know. Or maybe it’s about falling in love. Or something else. What it is, is the Man In Black whooping it up with mariachi horns, having a blast. Works at parties, weddings, anywhere really. Made it to #1 on the USA-Country chart, #17 on the pop chart, #12 in Australia.

11. David Bowie – life on Mars? (1973) 

A 1973 single release from a 1971 album which didn’t get heard in the Americas until at least 1972. In other words, Mr. Bowie (aka Mr. Jones) is messing with the fabric of reality yet again, and winning. A full-on Hollyweird epic in less than four minutes. Romance, regret, yearning, aliens. Made it to #3 in the UK, #39 in Germany, #4 in Ireland.

10. Nina Simone – I wish I knew how it would feel to be free (1967)

It didn’t seem to chart anywhere. It changed the world anyway. |How do we know this? Because everyone that hears it agrees with it … or they’re one of the jailers.

9. Stevie Wonder – superstition (1972) 

Because of what happens whenever this shows up in a party situation. The funk destroys all fascists. Goodness triumphs. That it’s also a rip-roaring condemnation of all the insane stuff people believe, well, welcome to inside of the Top Ten. Made it to #1 in the USA, #11 in the UK.

8. Pere Ubu – final solution (1976)

Wherein the atom heart of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues getst split and full-on apocalypse unleashes. Deliberately kept off the charts by shady men dressed in black lest it immanetize the eschaton ahead of schedule. Such was the murky truth of 1976.

7. KLF – doctorin’ the Tardis (1988)

The Dr. Who theme and Rock And Roll Part 2 joined at the trans-dimensional hip. More fun than all the Star Wars and all the Star Treks (and their spinoffs) combined. And magnitudes smarter. Made it #1 in the UK, #2 in Australia, #4 in Ireland, #16 on the US dance charts.

6. Rolling Stones – paint it black (1966) 

It’s not even the Summer of Love yet but the Stones are unleashing the sitars and balalaikas, knocking the whole world on its side, even as they dump a tanker load of black paint over all those pretty psychedelic colours. Made it #1 in the US, the UK, Canada and the Netherlands, #2 in Finland. What the hell, Finland?

5. Stooges – I wanna be your dog (1969) 

Released in June of 1969, it didn’t chart anywhere, didn’t get them invited to Woodstock or Ed Sullivan. Yet it’s still at least the fifth greatest and/or most singular record of all time because entire universes have formed from the mad chaos of its wake.

4. Sex Pistols – pretty vacant (1977) 

The most Abba like of the Sex Pistols singles, probably because the main riff was more or less stolen from them. Yet such atrocities were unleashed upon it that nobody seemed to notice. This was going to be Anarchy in the UK except Motron started making allergy noises. Made it to #6 in the UK.

3. Beatles – revolution (1968)

Motron remembers Grade Four. “Mrs. Hackett would let us play records on Friday afternoons. And it always ended with The Beatles’ Hey Jude/Revolution. Hey Jude always got played first because it was the A-side and ladies first, the girls preferred it. Revolution always got played louder because after all that, the boys needed to tear shit up.” Made it to #1 absolutely everywhere.

2. Beatles – I am the walrus (1967)

Beatle John drops acid for maybe the thousandth day in a row, ends up watching TV and taking notes of great terror and epiphany while sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun to shine. Jack Kerouac once said that all he had to offer was his confusion. John Lennon took it even further. He was the walrus. Goo-goo-ga-joob. B-side to Hello Goodbye which made it #2 everywhere that it wasn’t #1.

1. Elvis Presley – if I can dream (1968)

The kid from Tupelo singing like he truly believes that a single song can not just redeem his own soul but everyone else’s as well, the world over, in 1968 on a TV special with the hard rain of assassinations and war and insurrection falling here there and everywhere. Seriously, what’s a King to do? Made it to #12 in the US, #6 in Canada.


St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse #14

Installment #14 of St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse (the 333 Most Singular Records of All Time) aired Saturday, Nov-15th on CiTR.FM.101.9.  It’s the second last program in the countdown.

Here it is in two Mixcloud streams, each about an hour …

The podcast of the whole program is available for download here. 

In case you haven’t been paying attention, St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse has been Randophonic’s main focus since summertime.  Soul, pop, rock, punk, funk, anything and everything as long as it was released as a single and could be found in St. Steven’s collection as of Canada Day, 1994.

The stuff below is not exactly what was said or played during the show, but it’s pretty good approximation.

38. Orb – little fluffy clouds (1990)

It just sounds so good on the right dance floor, minds floating off with the fluffy clouds, yet bodies moving in groovy time. It also works for driving, open road and no worries, or tripping on acid whilst very high up on a mountain, the whole world spread out beyond and below you, a view so vast you can see backward in time, all the way to antiquity. At least, that’s what happened that one time. Made it #10 in the UK, #13 on US Dance chart.

37. Sly + Family Stone – thank you falletinme be mice elf agin (1969)

Did funk get invented here? No, James Brown did that. What Sly and family did here (in 1969, with men on the moon, and pixie dust from Woodstock pixie still falling like sweet summer rain) was lay down the exclamation point. Set your asses free, mankind. The rest will follow. Made it #1 in the USA.

36. Roy Orbison – in dreams (1963) 

Tip of the hat to Blue Velvet here. If you haven’t seen it, you don’t understand the world you’re in — the weirdness and the horror of it, and how deep it goes. Like a nightmare, and yet somehow beautiful. But that’s all a 1980s thing. In 1963, the song made it to #7 in USA, #1 in Australia, #6 in the UK.

35. Dick Dale – Misirlou (1962)

1962 feels too early for this. Were things really this wild, that early? Certainly not all over. Which is probably why we can’t find any chart info for Misirlou. There was so little cohesion in those days, every region doing its own weird thing … with Dick Dale way the hell out on the waves exploring regions nobody else had even dreamed of.

34. Neil Young – hey hey my my [into the black] (1979) 

Wherein Mr. Young weighs in on the death of Elvis and the eruption of the punk thing, and makes the kind of racket that awakens old gods, conjures new ones, sets even white men free. Though we’re still wondering, is it really better to burn out than fade away? Or as Motron once put it after exactly enough single malt, “I choose to burn always.” Made it to #75 in the USA.

33. Husker Du – celebrated summer (1984)

The acid was surprisingly good the summer of 1984, right smack in the middle of the Winter of Hate. And this sort of punk intensity, psychedelic ez-listening helped make it so.

32. Creedence Clearwater Revival – have you ever seen the rain (1971)

Is it really just about a sun shower, or is the rain perhaps the bullshit of Vietnam and Richard Nixon sucking all the light from the day? Either way, it’s a both sad and glorious record which has been known to make grown men cry. Made it #36 in the UK, #2 in Norway, #1 in Canada, #8 in the USA.

31. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I put a spell on you (1956)

As the story goes, it was supposed to be a standard song of seduction, all smooth and exotic. Except they were boozing that night in the studio and “something” happened.

30. Staple Singers – if you’re ready (1973)

It’s all good all the way through, but there’s something particularly sublime that happens toward the end as the strings swell and whatever that thing is that we might be ready for achieves escape velocity, leaves the mortal world behind. And you can dance to it. Made it #9 in the USA, #79 in Canada, #34 in the UK.

29. Jane Birkin + Serge Gainsbourg – Je T’aime [moi non plus] (1969)

Yes as a matter of fact, sex is dirty. The question is, what’s your problem with dirt? Made it #1 in the UK and Norway, #2 in the Netherlands, #58 in the USA.

28. Neil Diamond – Cracklin Rosie (1970) 

It’s not about a girl. It’s about a cheap made-in-BC sparkling wine that, you can drink the whole thing, and it somehow doesn’t make you sick. The song, that is. It just keeps on bubbling along, crisp and effervescent. Made it #3 in the UK where they’re suspicious of wine, #1 in Canada, New Zealand, the USA.

27. Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) 

It’s the riffs, three of the all-time heavies packed into one epic anthem of raw confusion and despair. Is anyone surprised it didn’t chart? Is anyone not surprised that they went to the trouble of putting it out as single? Philip Random insists it only makes sense if Satan really was involved, the Lord of Confusion himself.

26. George McRae – rock your baby (1974) 

Disco MONSTER from before disco was even a “thing”, which makes Rock Your Baby just a fresh and easy dance groove with the sort of high infectious melody line that even tough guys can’t help singing along with. And guess what? They’re dancing, too. Made it to #1 pretty much everywhere.

25. Patti Smith – Gloria (1976)

Of course this didn’t chart. She disses Jesus, explicitly. Shrugs him off anyway. Yet she still finds some glory worth raving about. Now that’s enthusiasm.

24. Bob Dylan – knocking on heaven’s door (1973)

If you’ve seen the right version of the movie Pat Garrett + Billy The Kid, it comes up in the scene where Slim Pickens is gutshot and dying, and he knows it. He looks to the grimy horizon and he has no illusions. Whatever good he’s done, whatever evil, whatever’s coming — he deserves it. Kind of like what America as a whole was going through at the time. Everybody stuck in the same grim movie. Nothing to do really but take what was coming. Made it to #12 in the USA, #14 in the UK, #9 in Ireland.

23. Frank Sinatra – witchcraft (1957) 

Frank, of course, was our parents’ music (or perhaps our grandparents) — our dads (and granddads) in particular. Except none of them were remotely as cool as Frank. But there might have been an uncle. The one who never quite came back from Korea, or WW2, just got on a train and who knows where he ended up? Made it #20 in the USA, #12 in the UK.

22. Laurie Anderson – O Superman (1981) 

Maybe you had to be there.  O Superman HIT … and it didn’t matter where you were, you paused, you blinked, you said “What is that? Who is that? Did the future just happen? I think I like it.” Made it to #2 in the UK, #9 in the Netherlands, #11 in Ireland.

21. Peggy Lee – is that all there is? (1969) 

Arguably the most existential hit single ever. So much so that it feels like it belongs somewhere in the past when Europe was still forever at war with itself and little girls learned early NOT to see the thrill in anything. And yet the fact that it’s actually from 1969, that year of years when man walked on the moon — well that feels even more relevant. Made it #1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, #62 in Australia.

St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse #13

Installment #13 of St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse (the 333 Most Singular Records of All Time) aired Saturday, Nov-8th on CiTR.FM.101.9.

Here it is in two Mixcloud streams, each about an hour …

The podcast of the whole program is available for download here. 

In case you haven’t been paying attention, St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse is indeed yet another Randophonic countdown, with Installment #13 finally getting us inside the Top 40.  Soul, pop, funk, psyche, anything and/or everything (as long as it could be found in St. Steven’s singles collection twenty years ago … the summer of 1994).

The stuff below is not exactly what was said or played during the show, but it’s pretty good approximation.

57. Eric B + Rakim – paid in full [Cold-Cut remix] (1988)

Because it was 1988 and Rap was supposed to be just a passing fad, bound for early obsolescence.  And sampling? What the hell was that? Made it to #2 in New Zealand, #15 in the UK, #65 on the US R+B chart.

56. Isaac Hayes – Theme from Shaft (1971)

It was a massive hit in 1971 (won a Grammy and an Oscar) and it’s never really left the arena since. Yet we’re still not sick of it.  Notes Motron: “If you weren’t twelve when you saw him do this on Academy Awards and absolutely blow the world away, and you with it, well, you’re not me.” Made it to #1 in the US and Canada.

55. Talking Heads – psycho killer (1977)

No, as a matter of fact, the world was not cool in 1977. Nobody got the Talking Heads except a narrow accumulation of sophisto-punks, proto-new wavers, and of course psychos. But seriously. This was the punk that wasn’t punk. The sound that was all wound up with intensity, angst, violence … but normal people could almost (sort of) listen to it. If the radio had the guts to play it, which it didn’t. Made it to #92 in the USA, #13 in the Netherlands.

54. Devo – [I can’t get no] satisfaction (1977)

How the hell do you improve on Satisfaction? You find its inner robot and you set that robot free. Made it to #98 in Australia, #41 in the UK.


53. Captain Beefheart – ice cream for crow (1982)

The wonder would be if this had charted, the Captain’s music being (as Philip Random puts it) best saved for those moments when you can’t really stand music anymore. The Captain will save your soul … and feed the crows.

52. Pink Floyd – see Emily play (1967)

High and ecstatic summer of love epiphany of colour, rhyme, fun and … everything. Free games being played in fields and meadows and open minds spilling their dreams and chemicals like great apocalypses of eternal hope … and yet looming menace. Made it #6 in the UK, #134 in the USA.

51. Ray Charles – living for the city (1975)

Mr. Charles takes Stevie Wonder’s protest song to church and all are saved. Made it to #91 in the USA.

50. Dinosaur Jr – just like heaven (1989)

Some songs (even great ones) just need to be taken further, harder, faster than is remotely rational. Made it #2 on the UK Indie chart.

49. Gene Krupa – China Boy (1955)

This came out of an argument as the list was being prepared. Philip Random laid in with his expected “nothing relevant pre-exists 1965 anyway” logic. Motron countered with Gene Krupa’s rip through China Boy. At which point Random shrugged and suggested that Mr. Krupa had somehow played so fast and precise that he’d actually traveled forward in time.  It stands to reason.

48. Gun Club – sexbeat (1982)

Worth repeating because people getting it wrong. Even if the Pixies invented grunge, which they didn’t, it’s wrong anyway. Because The Gun Club invented that sound, fast enough for punk, but deep into something darker, dirtier, older. Call it the blues, or just sexbeat. So, in conclusion, Robert Johnson invented grunge.

47. Tiny Tim – tiptoe through the tulips (1968)

It either makes you smile or want to hurt somebody. But why would you want to hurt somebody? Just relax, kick off your shoes, wander through your uptight neighbour’s flowers, make a mess of things. Made it to #17 in the USA.

46. The Smiths – how soon is now (1985)

The one Smiths song that even people who can’t stand Morrissey turn up to eleven. Because it goes places that are strange and rare and exquisitely beautiful. Philip Random calls it the most psychedelic single of the least psychedelic decade ever.  Made it to #24 in the UK, #36 on the USA Dance chart.

45. Hank Williams – I’m so lonesome I could cry (1949)

Who says white folk don’t have soul? B-side to My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It which made it to #4 on the US Country chart.

44. Badfinger – baby blue (1972)

It wasn’t a HUGE hit at the time but something about it seems to have been impervious to time. The melody perhaps, and the power in the pop. Bmal Nomis was sure it was the Beatles the first time he heard it. So maybe that’s it. Or maybe it’s the lurking tragedy, the fact that half the band would kill themselves within a decade, including Pete Ham, the guy who wrote and sang the song. Made it to #14 in the USA, #7 in Canada.

43. Joy Division – she’s lost control (1980)

The secret to Joy Division in general, Ian Curtis in particular, is that they had a way of stripping everything away until nothing was left but darkness. Yet they still found a way to make it move, wrestle a brilliant song out of it. Until they couldn’t anymore. Or Ian Curtis couldn’t anyway. Suicide may be an astute career move, but it’s still shitty all down the line. Made it to #1 in New Zealand, #1 on the UK Indie chart.

42. Marvin Gaye – mercy mercy me [the ecology] (1971)

Philip Random’s pretty sure the first time he even heard the word ecology was attached to the title of this song. And then some older kid said it was about pollution, how man was destroying everything with factories and oil spills and garbage dumps the size of cities, and then there was that river in Cleveland that actually caught fire and burned for days.  Made it to #4 in the USA.

41. Monkees – steppin’ stone (1966)

The first Monkees single to not hit #1 in the USA, which makes sense, because it’s also the only Monkees song the Sex Pistols saw fit to cover. Why? Because it’s punk. It’s tired of somebody’s shit. Made it to #20 in the USA, #1 in Canada.

40. Spacemen 3 – revolution (1988)

A song about righteously tearing shit up, ripping the world to pieces, turning everything on its head.  Thinking about it anyway.  If it charted anywhere, it was the kind of chart that didn’t leave any traces of itself, lest they be used as evidence in some shadowy court of law.

39. Nancy Sinatra + Lee Hazelwood – some velvet morning (1967)

It’s not either singer that makes this record, or even the song. It’s those strings at the beginning, like something heard in a fever dream when you’re four years old. A tear has formed in the earth’s crust giving way to the hollow earth below … and this sound oozes out. Is it beautiful? Is it malevolent? What it is, is mysterious and everything it touches becomes equally mysterious. Made it to #26 in the USA, #36 in Canada, #44 in Australia.