454. knots

“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)

gentlegiant-1972-promo

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505. across the universe

“The Thin White Duke (aka David Bowie, aka David Jones) at the point of pitching into thinnest, whitest, most cocaine psychotic point in his career, takes a seemingly careless swipe at John Lennon‘s psychedelic hymn to transcendence, eternity, higher meaning. And at first, it really is a sloppy mess, a blasphemy even, but then something very cool starts happening. The memory is of being drunk, maybe twenty-one, singing my head off to it while very alone, and feeling somehow saved. I think I was driving at the time, but apparently I made it home, or wherever the hell I was going.” (Philip Random)

DavidBowie+JohnLennon-1975

524. the gates of delirium

“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)

Yes-1975-live-2

 

537. wishing well

“Wishing Well is a song I was aware of for a while without actually being conscious of it (if that makes any sense) percolating around in the background, never too loud, never overplayed. But that was Free’s version, the original. It took Maggie Bell‘s cover to snap me to attention and ask the essential question. Why the hell haven’t I heard more Maggie Bell, particularly given Jimmy Page’s presence all over Wishing Well, and the album in question? I’m still wondering.” (Philip Random)

MaggieBell-1975

542. tonight’s the night [1]

“The title track of Neil Young’s sixth studio album is completely concerned with heroin and the damage done, souls consumed, lives ended way too soon. It says 1975 on the cover (and it was actually recorded a couple of years earlier) but I didn’t find it until at least ten years after the fact, yet grimly perfect timing nevertheless, such is junkiedom — it never goes out of style. Which isn’t to say Tonight’s the Night is all one sustained dirge – the album that is. But that said, it never forgets what it’s about, always more shadow than light, always more nasty than nice.” (Philip Random)

NeilYoung-1973-home

549. the meaning

Stupidtramp as some eventually came to call them were actually pretty darned good until they started selling bucketloads of records. Fact is, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love them for a while in the mid-70s, Crisis What Crisis? in particular – a solid forty plus minutes of thoughtful, innovative, ambitious pop … and beyond. The Meaning gets the nod here, because it’s damned important. Meaning, that is. Assuming there is one.” (Philip Random)

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603. pretty soon there’ll be nothing left for everybody

“A smoothly apocalyptic little ditty from that latter part of Harry Nilsson‘s career when folks had pretty much written him off – all that boozing and drugging and hanging with John Lennon (among notable others) having blown his once beautiful voice to smithereens. And he was wrong about the future, too, how we were running out of air, and oceans, and pills and trains of thought even. But for whatever reason, I do like the song. Because, paradoxically, it gives me hope. Because if it didn’t happen in 1975, then why’s it going to suddenly happen now? Or something like that.” (Philip Random)

HarryNilsson-Lennon

668. spirit of the boogie

“It would’ve been the late 1970s sometime when I first heard Kool and the Gang, and I didn’t like them at all.  Too easy and smooth – the wrong kind of radio friendly. But jump ahead fifteen years or so and I was moving backward, getting archaeological as I dug through the stacks upon stacks of old vinyl that everybody was dumping at the time. Which inevitably got me to their better, cooler, funkier early stuff, starting with 1975’s Spirit of the Boogie. Apparently, even James Brown was afraid of them at time. Too dangerous to have on while he was driving, he said.” (Philip Random)

Kool+theGANG

748. danger bird

It’s 1975 and if you’re Neil Young, you’re hanging out in sunny California, feeling a decade older than you were three years ago, but at least the drugs are good, and sometimes the smog ain’t so bad, particularly when Crazy Horse drops by. Just plug in and play so loud it actually cuts through the haze, and mystical birds of great danger are seen soaring high, fierce and beautiful.

NeilYoung-1975