364. 30 seconds over Tokyo

Pere Ubu were one of those bands I started hearing about in 1977-78 as punk and whatever finally started reaching the suburbs (the underside of them anyway). And then I actually heard them and yup, they were intense, noisy, hard to ignore but also hard to love. Though 30 Seconds Over Tokyo would eventually turn me. Because it’s just so damned good. It was the title first, reminding me of the movie, a World War 2 thing, American heroes bombing Tokyo, a suicide run, just like the record says. Except the record’s way better, and recorded way before punk actually, in 1975. Cleveland, Ohio of all places.  No, let me rephrase that. Cleveland, Ohio obviously. Something had to all start in Cleveland, whatever it is that got started, that’s still going on, that mad suicide mission to drop bombs, take the war to all the normals, figuratively, of course.” (Philip Random)

PereUbu-1975-live-02

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380. in the light

“I remember first hearing In The Light on the radio when Physical Graffiti was brand new and I was maybe sixteen, and immediately thinking, okay, this is serious stuff. This is about something. Because by 1975, the music you found on the radio was less and less about anything. It was just predictable gruel, programmed to fill sloppy gaps between advertising. Not that I was sophisticated enough to voice it as such. I just knew something good was fast slipping away – all that cool significance that had been so prevalent way back when in 1972 and 3. Because when you’re that young, you just don’t know that’s how the world works – that it’s precisely the best, most beautiful, cool, dramatic stuff that THEY consciously destroy, because that’s just the kind of gangsters they are. But you are at least beginning to suspect something. And more to the point, you’re not just waiting for it to come to you anymore, you’re starting to go after it. The Light, that is. Everybody needs some light.” (Philip Random)

LedZeppelin-1975-live

382. the man in the jar

“I saw the Sensation Alex Harvey Band in 1975, warming up Jethro Tull, and yeah, it was sensational. They had props and costume changes, and there seemed to be a story being told. Maybe concerning a Man In a Jar, a track which I only got around to hearing (on record) maybe ten years later, bored, picking through a pile of old albums a friend was getting rid of. It was an instant keeper, and not just for the one song, the whole album being a sort of sleazy back alley opera about sleazy back alley stuff, and yet redeemed by an impossible dream, which are always the best ones. There were even bagpipes before it was all done.” (Philip Random)

SAHB-Penthouse

396. St. Elmo’s Fire

If nothing else, Brian Eno’s Another Green World has a perfect title. Put it on and you get transported to a very agreeable yet very different place. Alien even. Yet oh so green and achingly beautiful, like a dream, vaguely remembered via odd, mostly pleasant, always strange fragments, with St. Elmo’s Fire an actual pop song easing from the mists halfway through side one, deepening the mystery, because what the hell is St. Emo’s Fire but a mystery?  And there’s a superlative Robert Fripp guitar solo.

BrianEno-1975-green

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

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