267. halleluwah

“It’s true. Can saved us all at least a decade before most of humanity even knew of their existence (my corner of it anyway). While everybody else was reeling from the meltdown of the Beatles, the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, the end of 1960s in general, backtracking deeper and deeper into so-called authentic blues, or going all progressive, singing of castles, strange kingdoms, lost dimensions (not that there was anything particularly wrong with it) … the Communist-Anarchist-Nihilist combo known as Can (operating out of their own schloss in Koln, West Germany), were still fiercely working the Now, deep into the pretty much infinite groove of Halleuwah, the Lord be praised indeed! Howls and riffs and passing rips of melody and noise and the best f***ing drummer ever — the whole mad stew still sounding fresh and dangerous and profoundly ahead of our time even now, decades later. Why is it not way higher on this list then? Good question. I guess I must’ve been just post a phase of listening to it too much when I was compiling things.” (Philip Random)

Can-1971-playing

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268. ride a white swan

“If you’re British, you’ve likely heard plenty of T-Rex in your time, maybe way too much. But over here in the Americas a track like Ride A White Swan never cracked pop radio back in the day, so it still retains the kind of freshness that turns heads, gets people nodding along, smiling, wondering, ‘Who is this?’ Like it was recorded last week, not better part of half a century ago. Still makes me smile pretty much every time I hear it, Marc Bolan’s oddly spry little ditty about skyways, sunbeams, druids and tatooed gowns. Some say it invented Glam. I ain’t arguing.” (Philip Random)

T-Rex-1970-promo

271. dead babies

“I guess I was twelve when I first started hearing about this guy named Alice Cooper who was some kind of reincarnated witch that murdered chickens on stage and hacked baby dolls to pieces, and his shows always ended with him getting hung from the neck until he was dead, but being a demon, he could never really be killed. But what was truly shocking was the music when I finally heard it. How good it was. Not just ugly noise like you’d expect from a baby murdering demon from hell, but actually kind of nice in places, beautiful even, which made the evil stuff all the more frightening, twisted, and yeah, hilarious, because anything that could piss off adults that much had to be hilarious. The album in question was Killer and now some decades later, it’s still song-for-song one of the best I’ve ever heard, from any band, from any era, with Dead Babies the epic track toward the end about, you guessed it, dead babies and how they just can’t take care of themselves. Sad but true.” (Philip Random)

AliceCooper-1971-baby

297. Queen Bitch

“A song with the word bitch in the title in 1971!? It wasn’t done (unless you were the Rolling Stones). And to be honest, I didn’t actually hear Queen Bitch until 1973. Just one more element of that tidal wave of brilliance and threat that kept coming our way with Mr. David Bowie‘s name attached in the latter part of the early 70s. Who was this stranger, this alien, this queen, this bitch? What the hell was going on? I was still fumbling around with puberty at the time. I believe it was exactly what I needed to hear.” (Philip Random)

DavidBowie-1972-TV

325. perpetual change

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the original 1971 studio recording of Yes’s Perpetual Change. It just doesn’t go as far as strong as gobsmackingly wow!!! as the 1972 live recording that showed up on the triple live set Yessongs. Because they really do set the atmosphere on fire here, one of the last tracks ever recorded with drummer Bill Bruford, so yeah, the classic Yes lineup (my version of it anyway), which does need to be raved about if only for that point maybe halfway through Perpetual Change where the band are effectively playing two completely different songs at the same insane time, and it works, finally blowing off into a feedback overload that quickly segues into a Jon Anderson vocal harmony, and then BAM!!! into an extended outro, the tightest band on the planet at the time (seriously, even Led Zeppelin had to be looking over their shoulders in 1972) bouncing back and forth from improvised bits to insanely abrupt changes, on and on, higher and deeper until the only real flaw, which is the overextended drum solo (not bad, just not necessary like pretty much every other 1970s drum solo). As a musician friend once put it, Perpetual Change is the secret to everything that was great about Yes, because they were perpetual change (up until around 1975 anyway), not just evolving from album to album, but within the songs themselves. Everything was possible and they had the smarts (and the chops) to make it so.”

Yes-1972-live-Squire

338. pots on, gas on high

Some have called 1971’s Endless Boogie a failed experiment, but they’re wrong. Even if main man John Lee Hooker was just hanging around for much of it, letting the mostly white boys do the work (Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Steve Miller, Gino Scaggs among others), it matters big time that he was there, bearing witness, leaning in every now and then to mumble something perhaps relevant to the temperature of the groove in question. Or maybe he really was just looking at the stove, pots full of weird potions bubbling over, setting the atmosphere itself alight.

JohnLeeHooker-younger

339. Mr. Brown

Mr. Brown is definitely the most garage sounding track I’ve heard from Bob Marley, which is not a surprise given Lee Scratch Perry‘s presence at the mixing board, conjuring his unique and multihued magic. Found by me on Rasta Revolution, a 1974 compilation of various pre-fame Marley and the Wailers odds and ends, which means it probably got recorded prior to 1972. Not that Marley saw much fame anywhere beyond Jamaica until after 1974 anyway. And then I didn’t stumble onto it until at least 1994. But it still felt fresh, if a little ripe.” (Philip Random)

BobMarley-RastaRevolution

 

344. too many people

“I believe I’ve covered this ground already. Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles stuff has only ever really mattered to me when he’s, to some degree, working off or in response to his old band mate John Lennon. In the case of Too Many People, that means lobbing a pissed off open letter at Beatle-John’s perhaps dubious Power-to-the-People sympathies of the moment. Because, ummm, well there’s too many of them — people that is, happy to grab a handout (Paul never was much for nailing it lyrically). But what matters most is the track has serious bite, Paul the nice Beatle having not yet lost all of his carnivore tendencies, in spite of the vegetarianism.” (Philip Random)

Paul+LindaMcCartney-posing

359. madman across the water

“I suppose I was born just early enough to remember a time when Elton John was not a big deal pop supernova, but rather a cool underground item, more for the older kids. Like Russ (boyfriend of a friend’s big sister) who insisted that Madman Across the Water was about Richard Nixon and Watergate, the crazy mess he’d made of things. He was the madman destroying everything he touched. Which kind of made sense in 1973. Except I later realized it was a 1971 record, and the Watergate break-ins didn’t even happen until 1972, and didn’t get much media coverage until after Mr. Nixon got himself massively re-elected with pretty much the biggest majority in American political history. Mad and confusing times, no question. Lots of scary shadows forming across the water, maybe throwing time itself out of joint. Who knew the what of anything? Except the music. The music was amazing.” (Philip Random)

EltonJohn-1971-serious