573. fingerprint file

Are the Rolling Stones the greatest rock and roll band ever? Maybe. But for a solid ten or twelve years, no matter how messed up things got in their camp, no matter who was dying, getting arrested, nodding off, almost choking on their own puke, there was always a new album, every year, and they were always at least good. But it probably should have all ended in 1974 with It’s Only Rock And Roll. Not that they didn’t still have a few choice moments left in them, but in terms of proper swan songs, nothing was going to say it as succinctly – we’ve done our time, we’ve played our various hands, it’s all just rock and roll anyway. Though Fingerprint File is hinting at something more — funky, groovy, tense, whispering of surveillance and paranoia, all secrecy, no privacy. Like a long tense night, no sleep, no end in sight.

RollingStones-1974

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574. red cinders + song without an ending

“Two tracks from the first The The album that I’ve always thought of as one, because of how they flow together. Although technically, Burning Blue Soul is not a The The album, it was initially released as a Matt Johnson solo album, but then The The was always pretty much just him anyway. Either way, Burning Blue Soul is most definitely an album, a dense and connected and beautiful flow, even with all the noise and chunks of rusted metal just left lying around — an essential piece of soundtrack from a movie about the ongoing decline and fall of the British Empire that no one’s gotten around to making yet. But they will someday.” (Philip Random)

MattJohnson-1981

575. the ballad of Lucy Jordan

In which Marianne Faithfull takes a then obscure song written by the same guy who gave us Boy Named Sue and Cover of the Rolling Stone and delivers what some have since hailed as a feminist anthem. Philip Random remembers it first really grabbing him via the movie Montenegro “… that I tend to assume everyone’s seen but hardly anyone actually has. It’s the one where Susan Anspach, wealthy housewife, bored to the point of insanity, finally just bails one day, splits suburbia and her husband and kids, and somehow ends up hanging with some savage eastern European types still playing out blood feuds older than recorded history. It’s a strange movie, disorienting, intense. Anyway, the Ballad Of Lucy Jordan is the song that sends her on her weird journey, inspires her. Finally, she will return to her happy family, except (spoiler alert) the fruit was poisoned.”

MarianneFAITHFULL-1979-2

576. bluebird

Apparently, Buffalo Springfield are the greatest band nobody’s ever properly heard, unless you were lucky enough to catch them live way back when, with the psychedelic 60s ripping a hole through time. Neil Young and Stephen Stills (and the other guys), brash and wild and still mostly unknown, desperate to be heard, to wake people the f*** up. The records just don’t capture that. They’re too restrained, too produced, which isn’t to say they don’t have some moments, just lacking that overall carnivorous bite.

BuffaloSprinfield-1967

577. let x = x [it tango]

“In which Laurie Anderson reminds us that sometimes you’ve just gotta go with your intuition. If you see a guy and he looks like a hat check clerk, he is a hat check clerk. And everything that suggests. To which I must add, I have no idea what that is. And I doubt Laurie Anderson did either, early 1980s, just rolling with the zeitgeist which she was in the process of turning inside out with her strange gear and her stranger stories. And the pinks of the world are still trying to make sense of it. Stop making sense.” (Philip Random)

LaurieAnderson-1982-2

578. who are the brain police?

It’s 1966 and it seems only Frank Zappa and his Mothers realize just how freaky and weird things are about to get, and Frank never even did drugs (beyond cigarettes and coffee). Nevertheless he could see them — the Brain Police. Or more to the point, he felt them, because you can’t see the brain police, can you? They’re within you, hiding behind your devices of oracular perception. Recording things. Seriously, they are there, implanted at birth.

Zappa-Mothers-1966

579. when tomorrow hits

By the time When Tomorrow Hits hit, Spacemen 3 had already broken up for all the regular reasons that drug addled, pioneering psychedelic outfits break up, and then some. A cover of a Mudhoney original, it was supposed to be part of a double-A split single which would also feature Mudhoney’s version of Spacemen 3’s Revolution, but for whatever hazy reason, that didn’t happen. What does happen is Spacemen 3’s equal parts smoother and sharper take on When Tomorrow Hits, particularly that part toward the end, when it hits!

Spacemen3-1991

580. Venus in furs

In which the Velvet Underground remind us that in NYC, the so-called Summer of Love was more about coolness and shadows and shiny boots of leather than the hippie sh** that was so popular elsewhere. Music so driven, angular, dark that it made you want to grab a whip and get to cracking it in time. Based on a rather pivotal 1870 novella of the same name that explores themes of sadomasochism and dominance, it hits like a wrong door, the kind you open without really thinking about it, but once you have, whatever’s going on in there – it has you, it won’t let you go. Which perhaps begins to explain how it ended up being used to sell tires.

VU-1966

581. the number 1 song in heaven

“Some folks just can’t get enough Sparks, hence the twenty some albums going back to the early 1970s, and thumbs up to all involved, the culture is never weird enough. But I’ve personally been happy enough with the occasional gem of pure weird pop wonder. Like The Number 1 Song In Heaven, their big deal disco hit from 1979, which features actual changes in time signature, but apparently these didn’t clear the dance floor. At least that’s what I was told. Because I didn’t go to discos at the time. I was more inclined to the anything-but side. With occasional exceptions, because that’s the thing about truly great pop music – it tends to transcend all boundaries.” (Philip Random)

SPARKS-1979