129. Supper’s Ready

“Speaking of Peter Gabriel, if I’d compiled this list in say 1979, Genesis would’ve been all over it (particularly their Gabriel era stuff), with Supper’s Ready likely right on top, certainly in the top three. But such is the nature of this culture stuff. It won’t stop twisting, turning, swallowing its own tail, vomiting it all back up, eating it again. In other words, I grew kind of allergic to Supper’s Ready for a while, an affliction for which I only have myself to blame. I loved it too much, wanted too much from it. A song about everything. A song very much about the Apocalypse — Pythagoras with a looking glass, the beast 666, the guaranteed eternal sanctuary man, Winston Churchill dressed in drag, and ultimately the new Jerusalem, good conquering evil, an angel shouting with a loud voice, souls rising in ever changing colours, as a germ in a seed grows, like a river to the ocean, and so on …

Epic stuff ripped straight from the Bible itself, but not without a serious dollop of absurdist fun. The weird part is, I didn’t even hear it until 1977 (five years after it first showed up on the album known as Foxtrot, two years after Gabriel had split the band) by which point there was a punk storm blowing nasty and vindictive. But that was me in my late teens, as uncool as I’ll ever be, and yet life has seldom seemed so rich, the smorgasbord so alluring. Except then I had to go and eat way too much. Which gets us to the title finally. Supper’s Ready. Apparently it’s a reference to the very end of the Bible†, the final scene of the book of revelations (and here I’m sort of quoting my late friend James who used to study this kind of stuff before he decided life just wasn’t worth the trouble anymore). Apparently when all is said is done, Satan vanquished, Christ triumphant, God’s kingdom established here on earth, there will be a huge feast to which all the worthy, the sainted, the blessed, the good are invited. Apparently, it will be one heaven of a feed. But in the meantime, we’re all doomed to just keep on keeping on.” (Philip Random) 

(image: Armando Gallo)
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139. all the seats were occupied

Second of two in a row from possibly the most evil album of all time, Aphrodite’s Child’s 666, a four sided monster of a concept completely concerned with … well, what is it all about? In a 1973 interview, principal composer and keyboard wizard Vangelis Papathanassiou said, “the answer to the question 666 is today.” Lyricist Costas Ferris (taking a break from his main job of film directing) was less elusive, citing the central concept as a counter-cultural interpretation of the Book of Revelation, in which a circus show based on the apocalypse performs for an audience at the same time that the real apocalypse is happening outside the circus tent … with All the Seats are Occupied the prolonged and climactic point where these two apocalypses finally collide and all hell breaks loose. Literally. But is it really hell? Aphrodite’s Child being a rarity for all time, a psyche-prog-pop-rock outfit straight outa Greece, apocalypse being a Greek word not for the the catastrophic End of All Things, but for the drawing back a sheet, an unveiling of a new and mysterious thing. So why all the panic humanity?

140. the four horsemen

Aphrodite’s Child being a Greek psyche-prog outfit who didn’t seem to recognize a boundary between sweetest syrup and the hottest fires of hell, musically speaking. It was all just part of the same grand feast. At least, that’s how it feels on 666, their third and biggest and most extreme album, and their most evil, some might argue – the four-sided concept being no less than a musical adaptation of the final chapter of the Holy Bible, the Book of Revelation. With the Four Horsemen being the closest any single track comes to pulling everything together into a single, cohesive (almost) radio friendly unit shifter, the Lamb having opened the first seal, the visions thus unleashed.

(image source)

144. don’t be denied

There’s a lot of autobiography in Neil Young’s discography, with Don’t Be Denied (found on 1973’s Time Fades Away, the deliberately raw follow up to the worldwide mega hit Harvest) particularly loaded in that regard. It concerns a weird kid from somewhere north of Toronto whose parents split up and he moves with his mom to a town called Winnipeg at the wrong age, pays the price in schoolyard beatings, etc. But to paraphrase an old German, that which does not destroy you only increases your will to pick up an electric guitar and not ever be denied again.

(photo: Joel Bernstein)

152. listen to the lion

“It’s true. Van Morrison‘s Listen To The Lion is exactly what you want to have playing when you finally emerge from a prolonged season in hell, a dark night of the soul, an entanglement in Chapel Perilous (choose your analogy). It won’t miraculously save you, make you whole again, but once you (and whichever gods and/or demons and/or friends and/or organizations may have stooped to redeem you) have done the heavy lifting, it’s there to welcome you, take your hand, tell you you’re not alone … and remind you that you’ve got a lion inside you that needs to roar, rage, tear righteously free at least some of the time, else it will tear you apart from within and love shall never come tumbling. In other words, you’ve just got to let it go sometimes. Your soul, that is. Believe in it and, if necessary, get to growling.” (Philip Random)

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171. master of the universe

“Speaking of Hawkwind, I realize it’s difficult for those who haven’t been there to grasp, but the difference between their sci-fi epics and everybody else’s, is that theirs are real (note the present tense). They aren’t fantasies. They’re honest tellings of events from the edge of time itself, where even now mystical warriors stand at the very brink of the vortex, the void, the abyss … and they hold true, they redeem us all. By which I mean Space Ritual may have been recorded live in 1972, decades from where I’m currently sitting, but I’m here to tell you that distance is all illusory, a side effect of the weirder than weird mechanics that make so-called reality at least begin to make sense to our puny mortal minds. Which I realize must be confusing as hell to try to comprehend. So don’t. Just listen to the album, and if you’ve only got time for one track, make that Master Of The Universe, because it’s solid sonic proof of everything I’ve just stated. It’s truth itself. And it rocks like a mother****er!” (Philip Random)

Hawkwind-72-spaceRitual

183. it’s a rainy day, sunshine girl

 

“I don’t often brag about specific albums I own. But holy sh**, how cool am I to have a mint 1972 Japanese pressing of Faust‘s So Far with 12-page booklet intact! And I paid less than ten bucks for it. Which would all be pointless blather if the music itself didn’t deliver. Which it does, So Far being an album of strange and extreme moods and sidetracks (some might call it noise) with It’s A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl either a #1 pop hit in another, cooler, far weirder and better universe (where Faust really were The German Beatles) , or just a long brash walk along a certain razor’s edge – where genius actually touches stupidity, but it never falls in, even when the saxophone finally arrives past the six minute point, out of tune, of course.” (Philip Random)

Faust-1972-hangingOUT

212. the night they drove old Dixie down

Joan Baez had a big AM radio hit with this back in around 1972. Meanwhile, the cool FM DJs were playing the Band’s original version, which my teenybop ears didn’t really get. Too gritty, too raw. But jump ahead a few years to The Last Waltz (the movie of the Band’s big deal farewell concert) and yeah, I got it! The vast tragedy of the American South, what it is to lose a war and thus your culture, see it all burned before your eyes by the forces of Northern Aggression. Yeah, they owned slaves or certainly fought for those who did, but … I can’t think of a but for this. Slavery’s about as f***ed up as humanity gets. But there you go – where there’s humanity, there’s also soul, and thus complexity. Which is why we need songs like The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” (Philip Random)

Band-1977-LastWaltz

214. supernaut

“I’m thirteen, lying in bed and unable to sleep for reasons of existential magnitude, so I’ve got the radio on to keep me company, tuned to FM, of course, because I’m at least that cool. Anyway, this song comes on, heavy and wild, the singer howling about how he wants to reach out and touch the sky. But I didn’t catch who it was. Next day at school, I I’m quizzing everybody, but nobody knows what I’m talking about, and anyway, they’re mostly into Elton John or Three Dog Night. Long story short. It took fifteen years to get my answer, care of Jared, a marijuana dealer I knew at the time who played bass in various hard rock outfits, knew his heavy history. I mentioned the ‘I want to reach out’ part and he instantly said, ‘Black Sabbath Supernaut,’ like I’d just become magnitudes less cool in his eyes. How the hell could I not know Supernaut!? But I was just glad to have the answer, life suddenly feeling a little more purposeful, complete. Supernaut, found on side one of Vol. 4, which Jared had, so on it went, heavy and cool as I remembered. Life before the interwebs. You just had to keep digging.” (Philip Random)

BlackSabbath-1972-live(photo source)