162. liar

Liar‘s the first Queen song I ever heard. Grade Nine, a tinny little radio in my bedroom, I was probably doing homework. And suddenly there it was, knocking me spiraling out of orbit (in a damned good way) like something from Jesus Christ Superstar, except without any Jesus involved, thank God. Just the trials of tribulations of some guy who’d done too much lying and now there was hell to pay. But it was the band that had me floored – all the power and stomp of Black Sabbath mixed with the epic sweep of somebody like Yes, and a singer (or was there a whole choir?) who didn’t seem to know any limits at all. Of course, I had to tell everybody about it at school the next day, but most of them just laughed. A band called Queen? What were they? Fags? Jump ahead a couple of years and I’d be thoroughly vindicated. Queen would be mega by then, with even the football jocks trying to hit Bohemian Rhapsody’s high notes. Except I didn’t really care about Queen anymore by then, they’d peaked already with their first three albums. Or maybe they never really got past Liar, that part toward the end where the riff lands heavier than metal and then the bass goes rampaging off into a whole new dimension (take a bow, John Deacon, you never get enough credit) and then one more chorus of ‘liars’. It still gives me chills. Sometimes anyway.” (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)

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186. hymn for the dudes

Mott being the one Mott The Hoople album everyone should own (even if it doesn’t contain their biggest, greatest hit — that’s what 7-inches are for). Because on Mott, the Hoople are rocking their strongest, most shambolic, but also finding space for the kind of ballads that make grown men cry. Hymn for the Dudes for instance, which is one of those bottle of cheap red wine wonders. Close your eyes and remember all those lost friends that you used to party with, rage with, surf metaphorical tsunamis. Where are they now?  Where the hell am I?” (Philip Random)

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201. The Rock

One more from The Who’s Quadrophenia because Philip Random insisted, “Because how the hell can you represent Quadrophenia with anything but four selections? Quad being an abbreviation of quadrilateral which goes all the way back to Euclid, for Christ’s sake. The whole point of Quadrophenia being that young Jimmy has become divided four ways, four personalities, four faces. And it’s The Rock, an instrumental found way deep on side four, where he recombines, alone in a small boat, storm tossed and completely confused … until these four melodies all find a way to work together toward setting up the climax of whole shebang – Love Reign O’er Me. Which is a hell of song but it doesn’t make the list because the entire planet has already heard it at least forty times in the last three months.”

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226. stratus

“I first heard the groove from Stratus via the main sample from Massive Attack’s rather brilliant Safe From Harm. But Billy Cobham‘s original track roars off in a whole other direction, and blisteringly so. The lead guitar comes care of a guy named Tommy Bolin who was supposed to be the saviour of the instrument in the early-mid-70s, but he hooked up with Deep Purple instead, and then OD’ed on heroin. As for Mr. Cobham, I figure if he was a good enough for Miles Davis, he was good enough for all humanity.” (Philip Random)

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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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262. keep on truckin’

“Growing up in suburban wherever back in the latter part of the early 1970s, you didn’t get much so-called black music on the radio, or the record stores for that matter. But every now and then, something epic like Keep On Truckin’ managed to blaze on through. I had no idea who Eddie Kendricks was (though I had heard of the Temptations), but man if my feet just couldn’t not move whenever it came on, particularly the long album version which, to my then fourteen year old ears, just seemed to go forever in the best possible way, expanding my soul and my consciousness as to what music could and should be. And honestly, it still does.” (Philip Random)

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266. tired eyes

Tonight’s the Night is oft thought of as Neil Young‘s death album, and the deepest, darkest depths of the so-called Ditch Trilogy. Stark cover, mostly black. Stark songs pulling no punches about various dead friends, and in the case of Tired Eyes, a friend who left death in his wake, got caught up in an ugly drug deal, ended up in prison for a long time. The damage done.

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284. Final Theme – Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

“There’s bests, and there’s favourites. Pat Garrett + Billy The Kid is not one of the best movies of all time. But it is one of my faves. Because of all the whiskey, I guess, and the cigars, and the dying, the whole thing like an epic tone poem of doom and inevitability, hard men looking the devil in the eye, taking another drag, another swig, killing or being killed. And a big part of what holds it all together is Bob Dylan‘s soundtrack. Yeah, there’s only a few proper songs (including Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door which never actually shows up in the director’s cut of the movie – it’s complicated), but it’s the mood of the instrumental stuff that sells it. As for the Final Theme – go ahead and play it at my funeral. But first, break out the whiskey and cigars.” (Philip Random)

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