350. “international never never zen”

“This first showed up in my life on a homemade cassette somebody gave me subtitled International Never Never Zen, because to write down all the twelve tracks jammed into side one of Todd Rundgren‘s A Wizard, A True Star would be to induce writer’s cramp, I guess. And it all flows together as one anyway, or certainly tries to. Because this stuff is nothing if not mad (as opposed to insane), overblown and over-reaching in the best possible way, jamming tape experiments up against instrumental freakouts, recurring themes, a cover of a Peter Pan song (from the Broadway play) and at least one proper standalone epic (concerning a Zen Archer) … and overall, just wow. Not perfect at all, but what do you expect from a guy who had recently given up on his straight edge lifestyle to more or less embrace everything from cannabis to DMT, magic mushrooms, peyote, even Ritalin … all toward abstracting his creative process in such a way that the music ultimately flowed out of him like a painting, spilling directly from his brain and/or soul onto the metaphorical canvas of our ears. Or something like that.” (PR)

ToddRundgren-Wizard-edit

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351. space is deep

“I missed Hawkwind completely in the 1970s which is when they were truly happening. In fact, I never even heard of them until well into the 1980s, and then it was mostly dismissive stuff from various critics: spaced out slop for morons who were too stoned for Rush, or words to that effect. The critics were wrong, of course. What Hawkwind had going, at least in those early days, was a nigh on transcendent application of science-fiction concepts to psychedelic methods. Seriously. Put on the headphones and crank this stuff up. It will take you places beyond the known universe and you won’t even need drugs. Because the musicians have done them for you. Lots of them. With 1972 a sort of ground zero in that regard. Doremi Fasol Latido was the fresh album of the moment, but the real magic was happening live via the Space Ritual and points well beyond within.” (Philip Random)

Hawkwind-1973-live

 

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

 

365. gypsy man

“The band known as War at absolute peak power. In the case of Gypsy Man, it’s how the song creeps in, as if carried by a distant storm, catching the moment for me, 1973, maybe fourteen years old, the Watergate thing, the Vietnam thing, the whole prolonged end of the 1960s thing, all the bright colours fading, distinct stench of garbage caught in the breeze. But at least  radio was still good in 1973. You could actually hear Gypsy Man on a commercial FM station, the long album version. Because the big corporate screwing hadn’t happened yet, but it was about to, because the consultants had filed their reports. There was stupid money to be made with the FM airwaves, and all of this visionary art and truth-telling crap — it was in the way, babe.” (Philip Random)

War-LIVE-1976

385. summer breeze

“The version of Summer Breeze that I grew up with was the Seals + Crofts original, which was an entirely okay in a 70s AM Top 40 sort of way. But the Isley Brothers (working through at least phase four of their multifaceted career) take things way further, navigating a much hotter breeze, feverish even, yet eminently cool in a soulful, latter day psychedelic sort of way. Did somebody say The Perfect Summer Song?” (Philip Random)

IsleyBros-summerBreeze

390. hypnotized

“There is no Steely Dan on this list, mainly because I figure you’ve already heard everything of theirs that I genuinely love (which to be honest, is almost all on their first album). Not that I’d ever deny they were an immensely talented crowd – they just weren’t for me. Too smooth and easy to listen to (albeit hard to play), too mid-70s soft rock and sophisticated and all tangled up with cocaine culture. Which Hypnotized captured perfectly, even if I didn’t particularly like what was getting captured, it was rendered beautiful anyway, and mysterious. Except I could never find the album it was from. Because it wasn’t Steely Dan as I finally figured out one day well into the 1990s. It was Fleetwood Mac, wandering through their vague middle period, lost somewhere between their late 60s psychedelic blues and their mid-70s supernova status. When Bob Welch was doing much of the steering.” (Philip Random)

FleetwoodMac-1973-tv

404. outside in

John Martyn generally gets defined as a folkie or a singer-songwriter in the history books, but something must’ve got slipped into his tea here (and a few other places), and the universe has forever expanded because of it. Seriously, Outside In (from 1973’s Inside Out) is the kind of zone I could inhabit forever. Endlessly spaced out, yet soulful as well, like nature itself, always in flux, forever mutable, yet working an infinite groove.” (Philip Random)

JohnMartyn-1973

406. What is Hip?

“I actually turned down a free ticket to see Tower of Power at a small club. It would’ve been about 1978. They probably would’ve played this song. And yeah, it would’ve blown me the f*** away. The towering power of it, and the tightness. What a band! But I was an idiot. I said no. Because I didn’t get funk in those days, or jazz, and how the two could brilliantly fuse. I had it all confused with disco. And I had all kinds of issues with disco. What can I say? I was young and foolish, not remotely hip.” (Philip Random)

TowerOfPower-1973

409. tocatta

“I cannot tell a lie. I was coerced into this selection by my good friend and neighbour, Motron. ‘What do you mean there’s nothing from Brain Salad Surgery on your list? It’s only Emerson Lake + Palmer’s greatest work. What are you, a critic or something?’ Like there was no worse word he could hang on me. And he was right, sort of. Brain Salad Surgery is worthy of inclusion for its title alone, and its cover, an HR Giger original. And the music wasn’t so bad either, just a little (and a lot) overdone at times. So we get Tocatta (Keith Emerson‘s impression of Alberto Evaristo Ginastera‘s original). It’s fast, it’s fierce, it’s as nightmarish an assault as any chart-topping band of the early 1970s was capable of delivering. Or as Motron puts it, soundtrack for the inevitable attack of the meat eating robots. It is going to happen.” (Philip Random)

ELP-1973-live