307. if I can dream

“When Elvis (aka The King) died in 1977, John Lennon was smugly heard to observe that he’d already been been dead for almost twenty years — ever since he joined the army back in 1958. But I give him another ten years, to 1968 and the big deal comeback TV special on NBC.  Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had just been shot, the Vietnam war had officially gone to hell, the Beatles hadn’t played live for years. But Elvis wasn’t worried.  He had a secret weapon for the show’s finale, a brand new song written by a guy named Earl Brown called If I Can Dream. ‘I’m never going to sing another song I don’t believe in,’ said Elvis when he first heard it, ‘I’m never going to make another movie I don’t believe in.’ And yeah, Elvis did deliver on NBC, a performance that reached deep through the strange vacuum of the cathode ray tube and touched the hopeful soul of all humanity, maybe even saved the world. But then he proceeded to eat doughnuts, sing awful songs, make worse movies, and finally died nine years later, alone, sitting on a toilet. Poor guy. The King of Need, the Residents called him.” (Philip Random)

Elvis-1968-smokin

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319. dogs

Dogs is the epic Pink Floyd track that you couldn’t put on when you and your high school friends all got high. You’d get maybe three minutes in and some idiot would say, ‘Let’s hear Dark Side instead. It’s so cool when all those clocks go off.’ I came to really hate Dark Side because of those morons. Still do (sort of), or maybe I’m just allergic to it. None of that trouble with Dogs and its withering 17 minute rip into all things corporate, capitalist, evil – the cannibal eat or be eaten Darwinian reality that’s still so dominant in our world. And the thing is, it found eighteen year old me a very pivotal moment, forced a consciousness that I’d been flirting with anyway. Something to do with just saying NO to every greed and conformist based assumption I’d been fed by every parent, teacher, coach, priest, expert I’d ever encountered. They’re all wrong, it shouted. Do what they say and you’re already dead, dragged down by a stone. Or as my friend Motron put it, Dogs is punk rock on acid, then slowed way down … but in a good way.” (PR)

PinkFloyd-1977-live

341. poet for sale

It doesn’t get much hippier or dippier than this, Daevid Allen, (ex-Gong and Soft Machine) hair no doubt down to his ass, plucking away on an acoustic guitar on some remote commune, everything smelling of patchouli, waxing loose and cosmic on various things relevant to the plight of the poet in modern times. Except he suddenly starts to bite at the end. Like he’s been doing a Rip-Van-Winkle for the past decade, but he’s suddenly snapped awake, and holy shit, it’s 1977, punk rock’s erupting off in the distance, and this anger stuff, it feels good, it feels vital. It actually makes him happy.

DaevidAllen-1977-live

361. heroes-helden

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard Heroes a million times already. But have you heard the German/English edit that showed up on the soundtrack for Christianne F, the most depressing movie ever?  There’s just something about what that complex language does to Mr. Bowie’s delivery, the deeper, more wrenching depths of soul and enunciation, how it gets you right to the heart of what was then still a divided city – two opposed universes of politics and animosity grinding up against each other. Forever. Or so it felt at the time.

DavidBowie-ChristianeF

366. will to love

“It’s 1977 and punk rock may be erupting but Neil Young‘s gone strangely, evocatively ambient … for one song anyway, all heartfelt yearning and fireplace hisses and crackles. Will To Love being one of those examples of a unique artist at the peak of their powers doing something they’d never really done before so well that they’d never really have to do it again. Found on American Stars And Bars a mish-mash of an album that also includes Like A Hurricane and some pretty much straight up Country stuff, making it a more or less perfect evocation of one man’s confusion. And don’t kid yourself, everybody was confused in 1977.” (Philip Random)

NeilYoung-1977-pool

460. the wild the beautiful + the damned

This was smart, prophetic stuff for 1977, but I was looking the other way. Too busy living its truth, I guess, being wild, beautiful, damned … when I wasn’t getting sucked the other way, being tame, ugly, saved. Hell, I think I even had a chance to see Ultravox! in 1977 or 78, but went to see Harry Chapin instead because that’s what friends wanted. Never trust anyone under twenty-one.” (Philip Random)

Ultravox-1977-TV

463. no more heroes

“In which the Stranglers at the peak of their not-exactly-punk form dish one out in the name of a million dead heroes. Dedicated in particular to all of those ponderous hard left politicos who tried to convert me back in my formative days. I was right all along, assholes. The Revolution died with Stalin, the supreme asshole. He killed all the real heroes, had icepicks rammed into their brains. So yeah, all hail the Stranglers for setting things straight in less than three and a half minutes.” (Philip Random)

Stranglers-1977-live

521. hanging around

“Typically tough early Stranglers number about that most essential of human endeavors. Hanging around. Or maybe that’s a Jesus reference. I remember seeing these guys in the mid-80s when they were trying to soften their sound, less punk infused aggro, more aural sculpture. But the audience wasn’t having it, or better yet, the mob. Because the Stranglers had that effect. The aggression they inspired was intense, downright ugly, serious stomping going down at the slightest provocation. Good thing I was thwacked on MDA at the time (also known as Ecstasy, before marketing changed the name and quadrupled the price) and thus in love with all humanity, even hooligans.” (Philip Random)

Stranglers-1977-promo

593. showroom dummies

“In which some showroom dummies animate, hit the town, have some fun messing with the humans. It’s the strange urgency of it that I love, almost punk rock, yet restrained.  Which is contradictory, I know. Like considering Kraftwerk‘s cyber explorations soul music, which they are. Which reminds me of something I read a long, long time ago.  What do you call a contradiction that works?  A paradox. God I love paradox.” (Philip Random)

Kraftwerk-1978-dummies