681. water bearer

Sally Oldfield being Mike’s big sister, Water Bearer (the song and album that contains it) being smooth, ethereal, fresh as the waters of Rivendell itself. Indeed, it’s right there in the lyrics for Songs of Quendi (found deeper into side one) – these sounds aren’t just redolent of what you’d expect to hear on a Saturday night at Elrond’s joint, they’re purporting to be the real thing. Which would be laughable if they weren’t just so darned nice. Or as I once heard someone say about Abba – it’s the musical equivalent of taking a hot bath, then going to bed with clean sheets, except these particular sheets are woven from some mystical silk that transports you to dreams of the undying lands found beyond the great ocean of Belegaer.” (Philip Random)

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700. exposure

Exposure is a song (for lack of a better word) that Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp conceived for Gabriel’s rather unsettled second album. Bleak, abrasive, creepy, prophetic – it was determined (it seems) to drive a wedge between what each had been up to in the past with their previous outfits, and the brave new future on the verge of boiling over as the 1980s dawned. Then, to drive the point home, Fripp made it the title track of his 1979 debut solo album, although now a different singer (a woman named Terre Roche) was tearing up the atmosphere, taking things to the point of genuine pain. Because, to quote Mr. Fripp, ” … the old world, characterized by large, unwieldy and vampiric organizations, was dead.” And what did the new one sound like? Small, independent, mobile, intelligent. And up for a fight, no question.

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706. Icarus Ascending

In which we are reminded that it wasn’t Peter Gabriel’s split from Genesis that condemned them (and us) to the various attainments and atrocities that would come to define them through the 1980s – it was Steve Hackett‘s. Look no further than Please Don’t Touch, Hackett’s first post-Genesis solo excursion (he was still in the band for 1975’s Voyage of the Acolyte), its epic conclusion in particular. And yes, that is Richie Havens (the hippie folk guy that saved the day at Woodstock) laying down the heavy vocal gravity.

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782. riff raff

“I was a too mature for AC/DC when they first started getting properly noticed over here in the Americas, my late teenage tastes leading me toward more sophisticated stuff like Styx and Kansas. Never trust anyone under twenty. Fact is, it took me ten years before I was mature enough for AC/DC’s no bullshit powerage. But it had to be the old stuff with Bon Scott, long dead but immortal, howling up from hell or wherever.  Sheer Riff Raff all the way.” (Philip Random)

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807. White man in Hammersmith Palais

Speaking of bass culture, (and contrary to popular belief) it needs to be said that White Man in Hammersmith Palais was neither The Clash‘s first reggae song, nor its best — that was Police + Thieves (or maybe something from Sandinista). But it was the first one they actually wrote, Joe Strummer to be specific, slipping out of his punk mindset long enough to wax poetic on politics and music, Robin Hood and Hitler, black and white, everything really.

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817. ever fallen in love

In which the Buzzcocks unleash a short, sharp fever of pure and beautiful pop with punk in its soul.  Or is it the other way around?  One thing is clear. They were one of (if not the first) bands to have it both ways, and we’ll forever love them for that. Just because you’re mad as hell doesn’t mean you can’t be pretty, too.

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882. this is pop?

Note the question mark in the title. This is XTC telling it like it was in early 1978 – everybody confused about the new wild sound that was tumbling out of the punk eruptions and eviscerations of the previous year. But what was it? New Wave, claimed the marketing types, but that didn’t mean anything. That was just a way of selling stuff that wasn’t disco or metal or prog or just boring old rock. What it was, was pop, bullshit free, for the moment and all time.

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907. some girls

“Lewd, crude (some have called it obnoxious) title track from the last Rolling Stones album that anyone needs to hear. Because past Some Girls, they just wouldn’t be that dangerous anymore. Probably connected with Keith Richard finally having to clean up his off-stage act. The western world would never be the same.” (Philip Random)

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937. disruption in world communication

Synergy was one man, a guy named Larry Fast who, when he wasn’t working with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Nektar, FM was inventing the future via his devotion to synthesizer technologies, with 1978’s Cords one of those albums that still manages to sound rather ahead of things. Peter Gabriel gets credit for helping with some of the titles, and none better than Disruption in World Communication. Because yes, this is exactly what it ends up sounding like when we humans cease communicating with each other. Genuinely scary stuff.

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