159. one more cup of coffee

One More Cup of Coffee is the Dylan track I tend to dig out when somebody feels compelled to tell me he can’t sing. Really? I’d like hear you or anybody you know do what he does in this one, the way he waivers just so, like something out of lost centuries, forgotten languages. The arrangement helps, of course, that wandering fiddle, the whip sharpness of the drums. And what’s the song about beyond a visit to the local Starbucks? The stuff of those lost centuries, I suppose, by way of his then current marital woes, reflections of self seen in distorted mirrors … and hearts like oceans, mysterious and dark. And then there’s my neighbour Motron’s theory that it concerns the Jason Robards character from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West. Because you may be bound for hell itself, but there’s always time for one more cup of coffee.” (Philip Random)

BobDylan-1976-liveHardRAIN

(image source)

Advertisements

179. give up the funk [tear the roof off]

“And because it really is that great an album, another selection from Parliament’s 1975 gem, Mothership Connection, George Clinton and his crowd tearing the roof off reality itself … live anyway. Which is how I first really encountered Give Up The Funk. First via that aforementioned TV broadcast, then thirteen years later, in the flesh. The outfit was called the P-Funk All Stars now, which simplified things somewhat, but not the music. The music remained a complex and fabulous beast, multi-headed but working only one heartbeat, everything in service of the groove. They played for the better part of four hours and I don’t think anyone anywhere ever stopped moving. Phenomenal.” (Philip Random)

Parliament-1976-live

181-80. P-funk wants to get funked up + night of the thumpasorus people

“Two in a row from Parliament’s 1975 Mothership Connection, because sometimes more is more. I vaguely remember skimming through a book a friend foisted on me a while back that had something to do with all the sci-fi imagery and metaphors inherent in certain cool African-American musics (specifically the likes of Sun Ra, Lee Scratch Perry, George Clinton and the whole Parliament-Funkadelic crew). It was way too academic, probably some guy’s thesis, and thus it lost me. Or I lost it. I can barely remember any of it, except maybe the notion that a spaceship could be seen as the opposite of a slave ship (the vehicle that might finally take them home to a new Africa of the future, not the lost one of the past … or something like that). What I do remember very well is seeing Parliament (or was it Funkadelic?) on TV back in 1976 on one of those Friday night concert shows they used to have. It was one of the tours where they had an actual spaceship land on stage, great clouds of smoke and lights, and, of course, the music itself care of a band umpteen strong and powerful. Like an alien invasion straight to the marrow of my narrow, white bread suburban soul. And thus my universe was changed. But good luck actually finding any of the records down at the local mall. Cool funk just didn’t travel that far north and west in the mid-70s. In fact, it would take me decades to finally track down a vinyl copy of Mothership Connection, some things being well worth waiting (and searching) for.” (Philip Random)

Parliament-1976-earthTOUR

200. Rose of Cimarron

Poco were one of those bands I used to hear a lot on the radio and didn’t like, their country infused soft rock being so inoffensive it became the opposite. But not Rose of Cimarron, which rose profoundly from the soft, sticky muck and set the god damned sky on fire the first time I gave it a proper listen. By which I mean, it’s BIG like a great western sunset, with a breeze throwing up dust at least as old as time, catching the rays of that setting sun and reminding me of why I’m glad I’m alive. Because every now and then life, the universe, God, or maybe just a soft rock band operating out of LA touches something epic and eternal and unleashes music so god damned beautiful even the hills get to weeping. And it’s even a true story. Sort of.” (Philip Random)

ROSEdunn-ofCimarron

209. kicks

In which Lou Reed delivers the amphetamine kicks all night long (and probably the next day too, and then maybe another night and day, and at least one more night). Speed doesn’t kill, or so I’ve been told, it just makes you so crazy somebody kills you for being such an asshole. Either way, I’ve been happy to mostly avoid it over the years. But some of the postcards have been fascinating, particularly when it’s somebody like Mr. Reed doing the sending … or Bob Dylan for that matter.

LouReed-1976-mirror

(PHOTO: Getty Images)

256. wild is the wind

“Pay your dues long before you pay the rent, finally catch a few breaks, rise to mega-supernova status, then crash and burn into an oblivion of ego, drugs, madness. Hardly an original scenario. But it takes a special talent indeed to pull off the crash and burn part without messing up creatively. Which is what David Bowie managed in 1976 with Station to Station, his Thin White Duke album, the one he’d later claim he had no memory of making. So yeah, here’s to madness and oblivion, particularly if it includes a cover as epic as Wild is the Wind, which I was certain was a Nina Simone original, but then my lawyer pointed out, it’s from a 1950s Anthony Quinn movie. Either way, it gets to feeling like life itself once that wind really starts a-blowing.” (Philip Random)

davidbowie-1976-thinwhiteduke

257. step right up

“I’ve already laid out my concerns about Tom Waits. His stuff often feels more like he’s acting, playing a part, than presenting genuine boosey, bluesy decadence and decay. But it is a hell of fine act, and Step Right Up, from 1976’s Small Change, is standalone genius anyway, a full-on Beat-skewering of everything that was ever phony, skin deep and ultimately ugly about consumer culture past, present and future. Always some asshole trying to sell you something you don’t need, trailing an oil slick wherever he goes.” (Philip Random)

tomwaits-1976-street

301. Hey Joe

Jimi Hendrix didn’t write Hey Joe but he definitely owned it, a song that many tried their hand at back in the day, but nobody else came close until 1975 when the band known as Spirit dropped a loose, meandering impression that didn’t bother trying to measure up, just wandered beautifully off in its own cool direction. Philip Random remembers stumbling onto it in the late 1980s sometime. “The album Spirit of 76. I think I paid two bucks for it, two records, four sides of mostly easy (yet weird) reflections on the theme of America, two hundred years young and rather confused as nation states go. Because come 1976, The Vietnam War had just been lost, Richard Nixon had finally been jettisoned, the whole hippie thing was fading fast with nothing palpable (yet) to fill the void. So yeah, Spirit’s casually wasted take on the murder ballad in question made perfect sense.”

spirit-1975

308. crazy baldheads

“I believe that’s us Bob Marley is howling about here, our dads and granddads and uncles anyway – the crazy baldhead agents of colonial Babylon doing the devil’s work, making a mess of every beautiful thing in creation. Found on 1976’s Rastaman Vibration, the first Marley and the Wailers album to crack the American top ten. The times were a-changing. And you could dance to it.” (Philip Random)

BobMarley-1976-live