“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)
“In which Peter Tosh (ex of the Wailers) takes a Joe Higgs original about being dangerous indeed, and very much makes it very much his own. “It was released in 1977 but I didn’t really connect with it until the late 80s when so-called Gangsta rap was starting to hit hard, turning the uttering of threats into a functional musical vocabulary. Ah, the good ole days.” (Philip Random)
Side One Track One of the first (and only really) Sex Pistols album is a solid and enduring f*** you to everyone that’s ever taken a cheap holiday in some broken down so-called Third World locale. Because it was true in 1977, it’s even more true now – the world ain’t equal, your luxurious fun and good times inevitably involves some other guy’s blood, sweat, pain, misery. But don’t let that worry you. Just stick to the big hotels and always drink bottled water, and if you see a new Belsen in the distance, look the other way.