“Every generation has its pluses and minuses. Born in 1959 means you pretty much missed the 1960s entirely, except from an outside-looking-in little kid’s perspective. Turn eleven in 1970 and you’ve got the Beatles breaking up, Bob Dylan going into hiding, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin all dead within three months. On the other hand, turn thirteen in 1972 and you had the likes of Cat Stevens riding high not just in charts but also in terms of serious artistic cred. Here was a guy laying it all out for you, direct from his cosmic soul — the nebulous and paradoxical truth about this, that, life in general. All just a maze of doors which opened from the side I was on. I still believe that. Just keep pushing hard, boy, try as you may, you’ll end up where you started from. Not sure about the last part though.” (Philip Random)
“The Badfinger story didn’t end well. But let’s not hang on that. Let’s focus instead on how glad I am that they existed, how superb so much of their music was. And for many, that started with Carry On Till Tomorrow (epic and sad and the definition of Beatlesque) running through the opening credits of The Magic Christian – the one where Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr join forces to prove (over and over) that everyone has their price.” (Philip Random)
The album title Wereldsuccessen says it all (a Dutch double vinyl compilation that I grabbed one day at a yard sale). Because by 1970, Mr. Tom Jones was an international monster, a force of passion and life that had more or less conquered all comers be they hip or straight, cool or absurd, and all by taking none of it remotely seriously. Except maybe when he took on 16 Tons, the old mining song, his Welsh blood rising, giving voice to who knows how many ghosts.
“I remember knowing what N.I.B. refers to, except now I’ve forgotten. ‘Nebulous Inner Blackness,’ said Motron when I asked him, but he was just snatching that out of the air. I’ve also heard Nativity In Black, which feels more likely. Anyway, it’s from the first Black Sabbath album, the one called simply Black Sabbath, and it seems to be about the Dark Lord himself, Lucifer, but he just wants you to take his hand, be his friend. Another lonely guy howling the blues.” (Philip Random)
Apparently, the Goose Creek Symphony were rather a thing for a while, though what that thing was is still hard to figure. Not exactly country, not exactly rock (southern-fried or otherwise). Perhaps best to just drink a little wine, maybe mix it with other weird concoctions outa the holler, such that an easy little backwoods groove devours itself, goes all psychedelic, stumbles off unto imponderable dimensions, other important places.
“Taproot Manuscript was the album where Neil Diamond made it clear he wasn’t going to be just some fresh-faced popster anymore. He was going to be going deeper now, and higher. Yeah, the hippies were sneering at him because his jeans weren’t torn or faded or crusty enough (and he probably used cologne), but who really cared if he could deliver a song as perfect as Coldwater Morning? Particularly that high note he hits in the chorus. That’s the kind of thing that stops time if you’re twelve or thirteen and just starting to figure out what passion really is. How deep it goes.” (Philip Random)
In which the Velvets indulge their inner Monkees for a bit and go full on pop, but they still can’t help dis-respecting the mighty and magnificent and beautiful sun which gives all life, inspires much of our religion and spirituality. Which is why we love it, of course (the song, that is), because the more bitter you can jam into a sweet, the better. Who cares if the teenybops can handle it?
“I had a copy of the Doors’ Absolutely Live kicking around for years before I finally listened to it, grabbed cheap for future reference, I guess, because at the time I was going through a prolonged phase of just not being into Jim Morrison and his bullshit, poetic and otherwise. Early 1990s finally, I put it on and what blew me away was the band. Hot shit indeed for a trio (guitar, drums, organ – the bass notes coming from the Ray Manzarek’s left hand). And yeah, I had to admit the singer had a certain something too, not remotely afraid to howl his angst and poetry and prophecy at the universe. We’re all doomed apparently.” (Philip Random)
“The Grateful Dead at their most American and beautiful. It says so on the album cover (if you look closely). It’s 1970 and the drugs aren’t so much wearing off in the land of the Dead as imposing a desire for something a little more grounded, relevant to the reality of things like gravity, the ground itself, the stuff we’re standing on (unless there’s concrete in the way). Anyway, Box Of Rain is just a beautiful song. Even my mom likes it. Don’t know what it’s about and I don’t really care. The sun is shining and the dark star has crashed. What more do you need?” (Philip Random)