Because it’s the f***ing Sex Pistols, arguably the greatest rock and roll band of all time, at their most pop, such as it is. Pretty Vacant being the one you could find on a mixtape with the likes of Elvis Costello, The Who, The Doors, The Cars even, without offending anyone. Certainly no one you didn’t want to be offending. Based on an Abba song apparently.
“It’s easy to file T-Rex away as a glammed up (and out) pop monster whose singles absolutely nailed the zeitgeist for a year or three in the early 1970s, and they certainly did all that (in Britain anyway). But main man Marc Bolan could also just lay down a brilliant song – poetic, psychedelic, vaguely surreal, rather like the times, but also timeless, with Ballroom Of Mars (found on 1972’s Slider) exhibit A in this regard. Because that’s how I found it, at least a decade after the fact, wasting a day, drinking red wine so cheap the only way to make it palatable was to pour it over ice, maybe add a touch of something sweet. But the sun was shining and the company was good and … holy shit, who is this? It’s T-Rex, of course, gripped in the arms of the changeless madman. It means something.” (Philip Random)
“The The being (at the time anyway) the last of the The bands, and they weren’t really a band anyway, being mostly the vision, the passion, the soul of Matt Johnson. And man, did he get it right in and around and on 1983’s Soul Mining, one of those albums where every song works, every moment feels inevitable. And yet, there didn’t seem to be room for Perfect, not on the original vinyl anyway, certainly not the longer, cooler, better remix version. Which is the first The The track I ever heard. One of those psychedelically enhanced long day’s journey into night and then back again into day situations. And yeah, I’d be paying for it in the long run, but in that sublime dawn moment, my friend Simon’s freshest mixtape playing from yonder blaster, the first rays of sun touching my face, it was a grand thing, like feeling the gods invent the world anew … grasping all of my considerable problems as their work, essential to the great scheme, whatever it was. Because in the end, everything’s perfect somehow, thus justified, even as a wild wind kicks up, sends loose trash swirling … or is it shrapnel from some distant warzone? You probably had to be there. I still am apparently.” (Philip Random)
“Alan Price being an original Animal and British Invasion contender, O Lucky Man! being exactly the movie you need if you’re fourteen and suburban and every bit as existential as you are horny. Because you do need something to turn your world on its head, expose and eviscerate your every delusion as to how things really work, until all you can do really is laugh at the fact that nothing’s funny anymore, it’s god damned horrific. And yet, like the song says, there remains a big IF at the heart of it all, IF you can just see through all the bullshit, and figure out a reason to smile anyway. IF being the middle part of Life anyway. Did I mention I was stoned when I saw O Lucky Man! for the first of at least nine times, just getting started really on the path of self de-programming, art and drug induced? ” (Philip Random)
“In which Motorhead make it clear, it must be done, the rich must be eaten. It’s the only way we’re ever going to set all the children free. And Eat The Rich (the movie) in all its punk, sloppy, inconsistent atonal elegance is a much overlooked masterpiece. How could it not be, with Lemmy on board as the communist insurgent’s right hand man? But he’s no communist. Nor anarchist, leftist, activist of any kind. He’s a hard rock bassist, which is its own justification, it seems. Which is pretty much everything I could ever say about the monster that is-was-shall-always-be Motorhead. You don’t explain it, you just get it (or not). Maybe not the kind of stuff I listen to a lot in my day to day life … but every now and then, f***ing essential.” (Philip Random)
“Because it’s The Stranglers taking on Burt Bacharch’s Walk On By and proving my old buddy Carl right. He used to say there were no bad songs, only bad performances. Not that I really considered Walk On By a bad song, just sort of guilty by association, buried as it was in the EZ-listening-muzak background of my growing up (whatever that godawful Toronto radio station was that my parents had on all the time, 1,001 strings in full asphyxiating flower). But jump ahead a decade and things are different. The song may still be saying the same thing, but the music isn’t. The music snarls, this heartbreak is dangerous, and come the instrumental jam of the full length version, the Stranglers are soaring. Even the punks are running scared.” (Philip Random)
Before they were OMD, they were Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and better – cool young masters of dance floor ready girlfriend-left-me earworm pop of highest attainment. Except the Enola Gay in question here is not just some wayward girl who didn’t stay home, she’s the US air force bomber that dropped the BOMB on Hiroshima — history’s exclamation point, all of mankind’s progress and/or regress manifesting in a pivotal instant that (combined with what happened a few days later in Nagasaki) FORCED change, triggered apocalypse, immenatized the eschaton (and so on). It’s 8:15 in the AM, Japan time, August 6, 1945. Always has been, always will be. This is where we are. Nothing will ever be the same.
“There are many versions of Primal Scream‘s Come Together floating around out there, but I’m going with Andy Weatherall‘s mega remix because of what the Reverend Jesse Jackson says in the sample which more or less carries it – that there are no genres, Rhythm and Blues and Jazz are just labels, to which I’d add Disco and Funk and Punk and Hip and Hop and Country and Western and Techno and Dub and Heavy and Metal and Glam and Goth and Rock and Roll and so on. There really are only two kinds of music. Good and Bad. I like to think I’ve invested some of the best parts of my life in digging for the good stuff, which in this case, got me to Britain, 1991, ecstasy rampant, all the toughest thugs having fallen in love with all humanity, everybody coming together in exquisite simultaneity. A little messy perhaps (and chemically dependent) but brilliant nonetheless, transcendent even. One for the ages. Actually, they’re all for the ages now. One thousand down on this list, one hundred eleven to go … ” (Philip Random)
“It was only a few years ago that I first stumbled into the thrall of Pharaoh Sanders‘ The Creator Has A Masterplan. It just seems like a different age. I guess I was high. A Saturday afternoon at the flea market, packed as usual, a cacophony of vision and sound, anything and everything vying for my attention. Until rising from the far right corner, a more marvelous cacophony, saxophones and drums and keyboards and voices, yodeling even. Something about peace and happiness through all the land. It drew me to old Ike’s vinyl stand and all the wonders therein. Ike’s dead now. Cancer got him in the throat. Yet he still lives in so much of my collection, particularly the weirder, wilder, more expansive stuff, like Karma, the album in question. Apparently, it’s jazz, the free kind, a logical next step from what Mr. Sanders had been doing with John Coltrane in the last few years before his death. I just call it music, everlasting.” (Philip Random)