23. relax [the long version]

“I first heard this astoundingly epic remix of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax at Vancouver’s best dance club ever, the Luv Affair. It would’ve been 1984, I guess, at a time that many were saying it was already past its true glory. Because the club had become too populated with so-called breeders, was no longer a strictly gay and/or bi and/or trans situation. But I’d argue this made 1984 its true peak, because of those breeders (myself included), because this was the moment when the various compulsions all balanced each other, when no particular tribe held sway, sexually, politically, spiritually, philosophically (am I missing anything here?), yet all were being heard.  Felt anyway. In the music. And holy f*** this was good music.

Not that Relax wasn’t profoundly, exquisitely, educationally gay (particularly the extended version). It actually coached us all on the exquisite pleasure of delaying orgasm, of NOT firing all the guns at once … which instantly made it political, because this was a moment in history when the overall consensus (among those who actually thought about things) was that some level of global nuclear cataclysm was no longer an ‘if’ but a ‘when’. Mere minutes to midnight on the doomsday clock. Yet Frankie seemed to be saying, we all just needed to Relax, that yes, we have this climax in us, wanting out, but the more we just lie back, relax, focus on our breathing, the better it all starts to feel. Like maybe the point isn’t to climax, but to find that spot just short of the edge, and ride it to eternity, sheer gushing pleasure to the ends of universe, the right kind of apocalypse. I distinctly remember thinking all this one night at the Luv Affair, dancing, LSD in my veins. And no, it wasn’t lost on me that there already was a gay apocalypse playing out, a horrific one, the one known as AIDS. Everybody knew somebody who was dying or already dead. Hell, we’d soon find the guy who was singing Relax was infected. But all this just catalyzed things, I think, amped the volume, everything to play (and dance) for. Hallelujah!” (Philip Random)

52. the killing moon

“Some songs just want to be longer, I guess. Case in point, the All Night mix of Echo and the Bunnymen’s Killing Moon. Nothing particularly wrong (or short) about the original almost six minute long album version – this one just goes further, deeper, richer. And seriously, what’s the rush given what’s on the line? Which is everything: life, death, eternity, oblivion, fate up against your will, looking the truth of it in the eye, daring to stare it down. There’s a f*** of a lot going on here, needless to say, and not just in and around Ian McCulloch‘s preposterously overwrought ego. Because I doubt the world’s ever had as many possible endings as it did in the mid-80s. If AIDS wasn’t going to get you, then trust that old man Reagan and the malevolent bureaucrats in Soviet Russia would. Or maybe it would be that hole in the ozone we kept hearing about – bigger than Antarctica, or was it Australia? And the ice caps were all melting. Yeah, we knew that even then. So why the hell not take a few more minutes to work the mood, ponder the imponderables, explore the best f***ing song ever recorded. Arguably.” (Philip Random)

155. Invaders of the Heart

“I first stumbled across Jah Wobble via his Bedroom Album, which was truth in advertising. It sounded exactly like a guy alone in his room with a multi-track recorder and various instruments, mucking around with various grooves and atmospheres, all cool and weirdly dreamy and easy to get lost in. But then a few months later, one of those moods (the one called Invaders Of The Heart) showed up in 12-inch extended play form, four dubbed up (and out) and ultimately quite powerful versions of the same track, bass now as big as a continent, everything else vibrating exquisitely from there. I’d never heard anything like it. I still haven’t really.” (Philip Random)

(image source)

232. erotic city

Erotic City delivers as its title suggests. One of the dirtiest b-sides to ever make it onto a mega million selling single, and being the 1980s, that meant there was an extended option, almost eight minutes of groove and horniness and all night f***ing. The A-side in question was Let’s Go Crazy (all hail the Lord God in Heaven) making for the release that perhaps best encapsulates all that was transcendent, rude, euphoric, essential of the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince.

(photo: Larry Williams)

357. Lazarus

“Lazarus eventually showed up in truncated form on the Boo Radleys‘ third album Giant Steps, arguably the greatest album ever that hardly anyone’s ever heard (except a bunch of Brits in 1993 or thereabouts), but the version you need to hear is the original 12-inch single mix with the extended and ultimately profound lead-in. Over a minute before there’s a discernible beat, almost three before the trumpets of heaven properly unleash like the Lord’s own light shining through, turning confusion to epiphany, sorrow to joy, undeath to everlasting life (there is a difference). I may not believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour, but I do believe this a helluva record.” (Philip Random)

431. Yashar

First of all, the Cabaret Voltaire that mattered most was the one that operated in Zurich for maybe six months in 1916, out of which came the movement known as Dada which, it’s entirely conceivable, saved the world, perhaps the entire universe. It’s true. The other Cabaret Voltaire (straight outa Sheffield), wasn’t exactly trivial either. Starting in 1973, they shamelessly put noise to tape and called it music. Come the 1980s, they were evolving somewhat, taking on the clubs with the likes of Yashar, which did a solid job of both making people move, and informing those people that there were magnitudes more of them on earth than anybody was letting on.

CabaretVoltaire-1982

761. this is not a love song

In which Johnny Rotten (aka Lydon) and the ever revolving crowd at Public Image Ltd remind us that the very idea of a love song was problematic come the 1980s, Ian Curtis having slain the beast with Love Will Tear Us Apart (and then he hung himself to emphasize his point). Which didn’t mean that love didn’t exist anymore. It had just become a heavier, more complex and dangerous thing. And take note. This is the original single version, vastly superior to overproduced mess that eventually showed up on album.

PIL-bw

1049. I wish U heaven [extended]

Prince takes a nice ballad from 1988’s Lovesexy and remixes it into a ten minute groove adventure. The man was like that in the 80s.  Everything he touched turned a brighter, more rewarding shade of purple, even his own already brilliant stuff. And then came that dumb Batman soundtrack, which may have been good for his bank account, but not much else.

Prince-IwishUheaven