An almost normal song from the good Captain which proves beyond doubt that there was serious method in his oft savage strangeness, because as Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles makes clear, he had it in him to nail a whole other career of chart topping, unit shifting odes to blue eyes and their imponderable depths. In fact, you get the idea, Beefheart could’ve done it all his sleep. But nah, that was somebody else’s dream.
“File Neil Diamond’s double live Hot August Night in the Everything You Know Is Wrong category, certainly if you considered yourself even halfway cool in 1972. Because here was a guy that moms liked unleashing one of the greatest live albums the world had ever heard, particularly the climactic side four, the climax of which was a medley of Soolaimon (originally found on Taproot Manuscript) and Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show (originally found on the album of the same name) but neither of those originals came remotely close to the drama-power-glory of what happened that hot august night, August 1972, LA’s Greek Theatre. I’d go deeper into it all but I know my words would quickly fail. The temptation is to say, you had to be there, except I wasn’t. I was in some suburban rec-room a year later, bored with Cat Stevens and Three Dog Night, fourteen years old and ready to be saved. For a few minutes anyway.” (Philip Random)
Second of two in a row from Side Two of the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. “The best side, I think. Or certainly the one I’ve listened to most over the ages. Some call it the country side, but I think roots is better, because it’s not all twang. In the case of Loving Cup, that means a piano driven sort of gospel groove that can’t help but celebrate all manner of wasted pleasures, like one of those parties that’s still going strong come noon the following day. So why stop now? I’d say it captures the decadent spirit of what went down at the mansion in the south of France through 1971, the Stones year in exile, but it was actually recorded in L.A. after all that. So let’s just say the spirit of it was still with them, finding its way out into the world.” (Philip Random)
“On one level, Sweet Virginia is just another smart and nasty Stones ballad, gritty as the shit on your shoes. But given the album it’s from (Exile on Main St. maybe the best damned rock record of all time), it’s hard not to read more into it. Just the heroin weariness of it all, I guess, and what it says about the 1960s, what they’d promised and given, but also what they’d taken from those who dared partake. Like something out of Greek mythology, a special curse brewed up by the gods, and in some way or other, the whole culture was in on the partaking, even little kids just hanging around the edges, wanting in. That was me by the way. One of the kids. I wanted shit on my shoes, too.” (Philip Random)
“I saw Thin Lizzy more than once back in the day, theoretically at their peak. But maybe it was the drugs, because they never really hit. Solid hard rock for sure, but nothing transcendent, nothing that made you want to go back to Church or whatever. Nothing like what they delivered on Whiskey in the Jar, one of their very first singles (which I’d only hear many years later), the old Irish folk song given full soul and throttle, so it ends up feeling as rich, as tragic as time itself. Because it’s not the whiskey that does you in. It’s the woman that drove you to it. Or the man.” (Philip Random)
More or less perfect modern pop from a more or less perfect moment in modern pop-time. Which is to say 1972, glam eruption. Except it’s wrong to classify Virginia Plain (or Roxy Music for that matter). Virginia Plain defies genre. It just is. Three minutes of pure, strange, driving fun. And thus a reason to live.
“I first stumbled onto Gentle Giant via late night TV, maybe 1975. My first thought was, these guys are strange. And I’ve never wavered in that estimation. Or more to the point, the stranger the better. And they never got stranger than Knots, from the album called Octopus, and Knots is nothing if not Octopus like – at least eight separate arms all reaching for something beyond their grasp. I’m sure I’ve heard it a thousand times, yet I’m still not entirely clear how it even goes, though lyrically, it does seem very connected to the psychology of RD Laing.” (Philip Random)
“It’s true. St. Dominic’s Preview (the song) should probably be way higher on this list. I guess I was just feeling a little allergic when I was compiling things – the danger inherent in loving any particular song too much, playing it too many times. Which is definitely the case here. You hear people talk about Celtic Soul – well, this is it, magical, mystical yet entirely grounded, even as it yearns and it reaches and … well, what the hell’s it about anyway? It’s about many things, it’s about everything, I suspect, it’s about cross-cutting country corners and every Hank Williams railroad train that cried, and Belfast being a hell of lot farther away than f***ing Buffalo. And the rest of the album‘s pretty damned strong as well.” (Philip Random)
“I don’t know why I even put this record on in the first place. I guess I was bored. A friend’s album, plucked more or less randomly from a pile in the mid-1980s sometime. A song title like Good Time Boogie, an album title like Jazz Blues Fusion, John Mayall in general – I was not remotely into this kind of stuff. I guess I could plead alcohol, but I didn’t drink much in those days. It just had to happen, I guess. And it was good. Music that was both grounded in tradition and set loose to explore. And what a groove! Exactly what my soul needed.” (Philip Random)