295. man enough to be a woman

“The first time I heard Wayne (eventually Jayne) County’s Man Enough to be a Woman was at a punk bash, 1979 sometime. It showed up on a mixtape* somewhere in and around the Buzzcocks, the Ramones, Devo, maybe some Kinks. It was that kind of scene. I didn’t even like punk rock (yet), but the parties were always good. So here’s a hint, kids. If the party’s good, the music is too, in spite of what you’re so called ‘taste’, is telling you, because if you’re anything like me, your taste is shit until you’re at least twenty-one. But anyway, Wayne County and the Electric Chairs weren’t even punk really, just loud and proud and defiantly brave rock and roll tearing glamorous scars into the fabric of reality. *There was also some Abba on that mixtape.”

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406. What is Hip?

“I actually turned down a free ticket to see Tower of Power at a small club. It would’ve been about 1978. They probably would’ve played this song. And yeah, it would’ve blown me the f*** away. The towering power of it, and the tightness. What a band! But I was an idiot. I said no. Because I didn’t get funk in those days, or jazz, and how the two could brilliantly fuse. I had it all confused with disco. And I had all kinds of issues with disco. What can I say? I was young and foolish, not remotely hip.” (Philip Random)

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427. lawyers guns + money

Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy got a fair bit of notice at the time, but we only ever heard a few tracks on the radio, and none of them was Lawyers Guns + Money, which is just a good old-fashioned smart, sly, cynical as f*** rocker about a rich kid off in some foreign locale, into something way over his head. Not unlike America itself at that particular moment in time, what with a recently lost war and all manner of other horrific sh** unfurling.

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450. Pioneers over C

“I probably use the word harrowing too much. But if Pioneers over C isn’t harrowing, and epically so, then what the hell is?  It’s about space travel apparently, the horrors inherent in messing with the space time continuum, astronauts who go too far, too fast, achieve absolute relativity, become creatures of limitless imagination but total non-physicality, ghosts in a word. This being the darker, harder, fiercer live take from 1978’s Vital, Van der Graaf Generator having truncated their name to merely Van der Graaf to mark the departure of founding member Hugh Banton. But the big voice remains, Peter Hammill (aka The Jesus of Angst) rending the very fabric of reality as he’s oft been known to do.” (Philip Random)

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472. Horsell Common + the heat ray

Just because punk rock hit in 1976-77 and changed EVERYTHING in its nasty, ugly-beautiful, inarticulate way, doesn’t mean it all happened overnight. Which meant that even as we were all cutting our hair, shredding our t-shirts, learning to dance pogo, there was still time to light up an occasional doob, put on the headphones and trip out to various big deal concepts. Jeff Wayne‘s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds would have been one of the last of these worth paying attention to, a rock opera interpretation of H.G. Welles’ sci-fi epic, featuring the incongruous talents of David Essex, Phil Lynott, Justin Hayward, Chris Spedding, and oh yeah, Richard Burton. The mostly instrumental Horsell Common + The Heat Ray shows up about half-way through side one and deliciously marks that point that the Martians officially turn nasty.

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504. gut feeling

Devo were impossible to ignore when I first started hearing them in about 1978. Because there had NEVER been anything remotely like them. Even a diehard prog-rocker like me got that. But being the genius I was in my late teens, I found them easy to dismiss as gimmicky fun, a one or three hit wonder at best. I mean, they weren’t actually important or anything. Then one day I was hitchhiking, caught a ride with a punk sort of guy who had the first album on, playing loud. Gut Feeling came on as we were crossing the Second Narrows Bridge, everything steely industrial grey, giving way to the great North Shore mountains, and let’s just say, I realized I was wrong, wrong, wrong … yet again.” (Philip Random)

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519. who says a funk band can’t play rock?!

“The title says it all, and the lyrics back it up with a solid vice versa, speaking as they do to the stupid notion that genres are in fact competing nations which, at best, should just avoid each other. F*** that sh**! Though it is worth noting, not every band is, was or shall ever be on the level of Funkadelic circa 1978. My point being, nobody says you can’t do whatever you want musically speaking (at least nobody from my end of things) but that doesn’t mean you get to just slap your bass guitar, dress like a pimp and call yourself funky. Not if you’re older than twelve. You’ve got to earn that.” (Philip Random)

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520. safe European home

The Clash’s second album Give ‘Em Enough Rope may not be their best, but it sure delivers with Safe European Home, the-only-band-that-mattered captured at peak ferocity, moving beyond mere punk into a realm that is best thought of as superlative.  And the words aren’t entirely stupid either, though the same perhaps can’t be said of Rudy.

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547. Squarer for Maud

“I mostly hated so-called jazz-rock fusion at the time – so many of my fave Prog heroes getting caught up with showing off or whatever, forgetting to actually make interesting, astonishing music. But National Health (straight outa Canterbury) seemed to mostly get it right, keeping it sharp, innovative, fun. And in the case of Squarer For Maud, it even gets epic, particularly once the cello cuts loose toward the end. And then there’s that rap about numinosity (a word I’d never heard before). Of or relating to a numen; supernatural. Filled with or characterized by a sense of a supernatural presence. Now that’s my kind of music.” (Philip Random)

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