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.
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
The title track from Television’s Marquee Moon is such a monster that it’s easy to forget the rest of the album, none of which is remotely average. Friction makes the list for the title alone, being such an apt description of the Television sound — that shrill, gleaming thing that happens when you rub two other things together that maybe you shouldn’t, and then you rub them a little harder and it gets even better, tearing a hole in the reality barrier that can never be fully mended, and a good thing too.
It’s Britain, 1977, and if you’re not punk, you’re not worth knowing. Unless you’re the Stranglers, who were more like punk’s mean older brother, more sophisticated, and tougher in a street fighting sort of way. Also, they had a sort of existential edge as a song like Get A Grip On Yourself makes clear. Yeah, society’s f***ed, the world’s going up in apocalyptic frames. No reason to lose your cool, man.
“The Brothers Johnson being one of those bands that I pretty much missed completely during my white bread suburban youth … except somewhere along the line, Right on Time slipped into my stacks of vinyl. And it’s all very nice, groovy and smooth, but then Strawberry Letter 23 comes along and takes things to a whole other level of cool and soulful invention. Music you can taste as well as feel.” (Philip Random)