105. ballrooms of Mars

“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)

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130. here comes the flood

“It was the night John Lennon was murdered. My friend Simon dropped by with some LSD and, given the extremes of the moment, our fates were sealed. It was our profound duty to now trip the vast lysergic, play a pile of Beatles records and see where the mystical magical vibrations might take us. They took us to dawn, sitting in my car now, high up a hilltop, taking in the first grey light of a cold and misty day. We had Simon’s little brother asleep in the backseat with a dog named Alice (it’s a long story) … but the Beatles weren’t on the playlist anymore. We’d sort of lost track of them as things started to peak, the gods having other plans for us apparently. Now it was a mixtape Simon had made of more recent stuff, moody and cool and mostly instrumental. Except here was Peter Gabriel suddenly, singing Here Comes The Flood, but not the version from his debut album, this was sparer, sharper, far better. I later discovered it was from Robert Fripp’s Exposure album — everything peeled back to just voice, piano and some ghostly Frippertronics. A song of apocalypse, no question, of saying goodbye to flesh and blood. Yet not forecasting doom in the end, but rather a sort of dreamlike survival. And then the rain really started to deluge on that hilltop. And it still hasn’t stopped, not really, the 1970s being known as the last decade that the sun ever really shone.” (Philip Random)

165. soul rebel

“With a small handful of exceptions, the very best Bob Marley is the very early Bob Marley, the stuff he recorded long before we, the godless multitudes of greater Babylon, had a clue that he even existed, when he was still just some struggling Jamaican local trying to believe in his soul. In particular, you’ve gotta love what he did with the singularly unsane Lee Scratch Perry in the producer’s chair. I do anyway, the two of them (and the band, of course) exploring far darker, edgier realms of soul and rebellion than what would eventually come to hog all the space on the Greatest Hits albums, get hippies dancing around bonfires, pretending they’re little birds.” (Philip Random)

(photo: Esther Anderson)

170. I know I’m losing you

“By the time I was thirteen or fourteen and paying proper attention, there were three versions of I Know I’m Losing You percolating around the radio airwaves: The Temptations’ original, Rod Stewart’s stomping rocker, and Rare Earth‘s stretched out epic. Actually, make that four, because Rare Earth also had a live version which was the best of bunch – rock hard, funky, a powerhouse that just went on, on, on, because sometimes, what’s going down is just too good to stop, so you don’t. A lot of great early 1970s music had this, particularly on live albums. Like the message hadn’t been received yet that the revolution was over and the good guys lost, so just keep pushing, pushing, pushing, this superlative noise must never stop. And as long as I manage to hang onto albums like Rare Earth In Concert, I guess it won’t.” (Philip Random)

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250. Memo from Turner

Second of two in a row from the soundtrack to the movie called Performance, which if you haven’t seen it yet, why not? Memo From Turner being the single Mick Jagger track that puts the lie to the entirety of the rest of his so-called solo career (ie: it’s really quite good), managing to sound every bit as down and dirty and relevant as what his regular crowd were up to at the time (ie: riding their sustained peak).

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258. bucky skank

“It’s hard to get a specific date on Bucky Skank, just sometime in the 1970s, probably post 1972, which I don’t even know for sure, it just feels right that it came from the Black Ark, Mr. Lee Scratch Perry and his Upsetters being known for their stoned and wistful wandering both in and out of time. The groove is odd, almost broken. The lyrics are mostly nonsensical to my non-Jamaican ears. But it always brings a smile.” (Philip Random)

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302. powderfinger

“Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps was the final album of his best decade (1970s), the one where he acknowledged punk rock while reminding us that he and Crazy Horse had been making a proper garage racket long before the likes of the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones hit the scene. Not that Rust Never Sleeps is a punk rock album, just raw and loud, and that’s all reserved for Side Two which kicks off with the one of a kind epic Powderfinger. Epic, sorrowful, poetic — I always assumed it was about the American Civil War, a young kid left behind to defend the farm (or whatever), facing down an approaching enemy with no hope at all yet determined to pull the trigger anyway. But that’s just my read. Different from Neil’s, I’m sure. And everybody else’s for that matter.” (Philip Random)

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449. it’s no game [part 1]

David Bowie hits the 1980s in powerful form with Scary Monsters, blows minds and fuses across all known dimensions. But then that’s pretty much it. He’ll sell piles of records through the decade, make the cover of TIME magazine, and everything else for that matter… but he’ll never be truly monstrous or scary again. Which is either A. damned sad, or B. whatever.  I mean, it’s not as if he hadn’t already given us way more than enough through the 1970s, from collapsing the hippie dream to unleashing his own personal alien glam supernova, onward unto cocaine bullshit, decadence, everything. But he always kept his cool even as he lost his mind. Did any other single artist come even close? Definitely no game.” (Philip Random)

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458. long dark road

The Hollies were supposed to be finished by the time the 1970s hit having lost Graham Nash to Crosby and Stills (and sometimes Young) and their almost Beatles levels of international success. But it turns out, the pop outfit from Manchester still had a few rather brilliant tricks left, including Long Dark Road‘s rather grim gaze into the shadows. Released as a single, it didn’t go anywhere, though room was found on The Hollies Greatest Hits, which is where Philip Random found it. “One of those hits compilations that absolutely delivers. Not a wasted second.”.

(photo: Brian Pieper)