“How dumb was America in 1974 (and Canada for that matter)? This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us, one of the fiercest, funniest, pop smart eruptions to ever get pressed to vinyl, didn’t make the singles charts, didn’t even crack the Top 100. In fact, no Sparks single ever charted in the entire decade of 1970s, their best. Thank God for friends and friend’s big sisters being somehow cool enough to find out about them anyway, and share the f***ing glory.” (Philip Random)
In which Brian Eno kicks out some almost punk intensity dada circa 1974, at least two years before such aggressive tendencies would even begin to stick, culturally speaking. Though the surrealism of the lyrics suggests other more complex forces at work than mere punk anyway. Also, the yodeling.
“Time Waits for No One being arguably the Rolling Stones‘ most beautiful song, epic and tragic and the kind of nugget that got at least a little radio play back in the day. Years later, I discovered it was mostly Mick Taylor‘s accomplishment. He didn’t write it, but he did everything else, fought for it in the studio, played the guitar solo. And then, as the story goes, he was done. He quit the band, did a good job of becoming completely obscure. Apparently, heroin was involved.” (Philip Random)
“Found on Wings’ 1973 album, Band on the Run, Let Me Roll It has been tagged by some as a Paul McCartney attack on John Lennon, part of an ongoing musical feud that stretched back to before the Beatles even split. But to my ears, it sounds more like an homage, raw and to the point (whatever the point is), and maybe the best track from the best thing he ever did post The Beatles.” (Philip Random)
“I remember hearing Gates of Delirium get played on commercial radio when it was new, all twenty-two minutes of it. I remember my fifteen year old jaw dropping. It would’ve been late 1974, maybe 1975. Little did I realize that an era was fast ending – that very soon the culture would have little use for bands like Yes spreading their vast and cosmic wings, unleashing dense and intense and impossibly beautiful side long epics about mystical warriors in mythical lands busting through great gates of delirium. Or whatever it was actually about. It was definitely about war, burning children’s laughter on to hell. I remember a few years later, a musician friend saying, ‘But it’s really about everything. That’s the problem with Yes. Their songs aren’t really about anything. Just everything. But f***, those guys can play.'” (Philip Random)
“Gram Parsons’ Grievous Angel being perhaps the one album more than any other that made me realize just how wrong I could be about what constitutes great f***ing music. Because I was that kind of fool when I was younger – happy to tell you just how much I hated ALL country music. And I’m sure I was loud about it. Sorry. I know better now. I know that hating all of any kind of music is like hating a part of your soul. Because in what other form could you take a simple song about a simple wedding gone wrong and turn it into something epic, apocalyptic even. Because such are human souls – we’ve all got entire universes exploding inside of us. And why would you want to deny any of that?” (Philip Random)
“I try not to regret things. Life offers way too many options. But I do deeply wish I’d somehow managed to be cool enough as a teen to actually ‘get’ the mid-70s Roxy Music, when they really were about the coolest item on the planet (even without Brian Eno). And not just in terms of look. They also had the chops, the vision, the SOUND. But then I guess, I wouldn’t have had the thrill of discovering it all after the fact, even as they mellowed into the pastel infused murk of Avalon, which the yuppies couldn’t seem to get enough of, but it didn’t even leave me cold, just lukewarm.” (Philip Random)
“Al Stewart was a respected albeit minor British folkie on his way to becoming a rather bland MOR contender when he wrote this pocket symphony about a young Russian soldier in World War Two, and his ultimate betrayal at the hands of the Great Stalin. And it’s so beautiful, so epic, so sad it pretty much stops time. Seriously. They should teach Roads To Moscow in high school. I’m sure I learned more from its eight minutes than I did in pretty much all History 10.” (Philip Random)
Are the Rolling Stones the greatest rock and roll band ever? Maybe. But for a solid ten or twelve years, no matter how messed up things got in their camp, no matter who was dying, getting arrested, nodding off, almost choking on their own puke, there was always a new album, every year, and they were always at least good. But it probably should have all ended in 1974 with It’s Only Rock And Roll. Not that they didn’t still have a few choice moments left in them, but in terms of proper swan songs, nothing was going to say it as succinctly – we’ve done our time, we’ve played our various hands, it’s all just rock and roll anyway. Though Fingerprint File is hinting at something more — funky, groovy, tense, whispering of surveillance and paranoia, all secrecy, no privacy. Like a long tense night, no sleep, no end in sight.