586. you trip me up

The Jesus and Mary Chain seemed to come from nowhere way back when, that lost decade found somewhere within the mid-1980s. Something’s gotta f***ing give, the zeitgeist was screaming, somebody’s gotta take all this noise to its extreme edge, give us all a smug, punk sneer, call it music, cause riots, get arrested, sell records. In the case of You Trip Me Up, that meant taking a nice little la-la-la love song and plugging it into the end of the universe. Sometimes on late night radio, we’d play it at the same time as Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive, both channels maxed to eleven – like competing nuclear mushroom clouds. It had to be done.” (Philip Random)

JAMC-1984

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587. mushroom

Can‘s Tago Mago is the greatest album in the history of humankind. At least it was (for me) for a good chunk of 1986-87. Sounds that were so far ahead of their time even then (a decade and a half after its release) that normal folks are still trying to figure it all out. Hint: it’s applied magick, four Germans cranking out the avant-grooves and textures, Japanese singer cruising cosmically in and out of it all as only 1971 could allow. The Axis powers of WW2 reunited (sort of, Can never containing any Italians), but this time taking the right drugs, only concerned with conquering all of the world’s freak scenes. Which is as it should be.” (Philip Random)

CAn-1971

588. memory serves

“Title track from Material‘s first proper album, which was before main man Bill Laswell had played with EVERYONE on planet earth, become a household name (assuming you lived in a cool household). As a friend put it once, it’s jazz without the annoying indulgence, funk without the sleazy silliness. Not that I really felt that way about funk. But I could agree about the jazz. Always nice to hear the egos reigned in, everyone serving the groove … in a chaotic sort of way. And who better to work all that than a bass player.” (Philip Random)

BillLawell-fingers

589. feed the enemy

Magazine were first pitched to me by a guy from Quintessence Records (before it turned into Zulu). Late 1979, maybe early 1980, he kept making it his business to convince me that Prog Rock was dead, that punk had killed it, that whatever cool, innovative, progressive music the future might hold — it would come from punk and the wreckage it had made of all that had come before. Anyway, he more or less forced Second Hand Daylight on me and, which started strong with Feed the Enemy and never really let up. A plane crash over the border, unconvincing border guards, hunger. No room for doubt. That was a future I could grab onto. And holy sh** — what a bass line!” (Philip Random)

Magazine-1979

590. who knows?

“We’re listening to Who Knows from Band of Gypsys, the Jimi Hendrix 1970 New Years live album. Two guys are arguing about the relative quality of his backing magicians. The Experience versus the Band of Gypsys lineup of Buddy Myles and Billy Cox. A third guy finally pipes in, ‘Hey, if they were good enough for Jimi, they’re good enough for me. Now shut the f*** up and listen.’ Which, in the case of the Band of Gypsys, should drive home the point that barely eight months before his death, whatever may have been going down in the man’s personal life, Jimi Hendrix was anything but in a creative rut.” (Philip Random)

jimiHendrix-1970

591. ‘cross the breeze

“If Daydream Nation (Sonic Youth’s best album) is one prolonged exercise in applied escape velocity, ‘Cross the Breeze is one of those prolonged moments where it gets furthest from the ground. I’m pretty sure I saw them do it live in late 1987 sometime, long before the album came out. It was a Sunday night show, and those are almost always duds, the audience too spent from the weekend’s extremes to actually move. But Sonic Youth launched us all anyway, ripped holes through our souls and scattered them ‘cross the breeze. It’s true.” (Philip Random)

SonicYouth-1987-02

592. needles in the camel’s eye

“Sometimes I need to see a song used in a movie to truly get it. In the case of Needles in the Camel’s Eye (the first song on the first side of Brian Eno’s first solo album), that movie was Velvet Goldmine, the title sequence in which glam-rock fervour erupts through drab Britain circa 1971-72. As the story goes, David Bowie refused to let director Todd Haynes use any of his music in a movie that was a essentially about him. So Haynes scrambled, signed up everybody else that was relevant at the time, and the result was perhaps more confusing than originally intended, but probably better.” (Philip Random)

VelvetGoldmine-POPidol

593. showroom dummies

“In which some showroom dummies animate, hit the town, have some fun messing with the humans. It’s the strange urgency of it that I love, almost punk rock, yet restrained.  Which is contradictory, I know. Like considering Kraftwerk‘s cyber explorations soul music, which they are. Which reminds me of something I read a long, long time ago.  What do you call a contradiction that works?  A paradox. God I love paradox.” (Philip Random)

Kraftwerk-1978-dummies

594. eggs in a briar patch

The Catherine Wheel was David Byrne‘s first solo album, recorded while the Talking Heads were officially on hiatus. The soundtrack for a Twyla Tharp ballet, it stands as exhibit three of Byrne’s 1980-81 hat trick of zeitgeist defining genius (something he still hasn’t topped). The first two were collaborations with Brian Eno (the Talking Heads album Remain In Light, and then My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts) but Catherine Wheel was Mr. Byrne going it alone in the production/writing department. Eggs In A Briar Patch (and really the whole sweep of Dinosaur, The Red House, Weezing, Eggs in a Briar Patch and Poison) gets the nod here because of how effectively the convoluted path between song and atmosphere gets traversed, and all the cool mysteries thus uncovered.

catherineWheel-ballet