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)

VanDerGraaf-1978-live

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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.

JeffWayne-HorsellCommon

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)

devo-1978-TV

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)

Funkadelic-1978-george

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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567. groovallegiance

“There’s not enough Funkadelic on this list. I’m sorry. It’s not my fault. Seriously, try to find any used Funkadelic vinyl in metro Vancouver that isn’t either hacked to shit or priced way out of my range. It doesn’t exist.  But I did finally steal a copy of One Nation Under A Groove from somebody whose name I can’t divulge (for obvious reasons), but trust me, he’s an asshole. Jesus even said it was okay, and alcohol. And anyway, if I do end up going to hell, it won’t be for that.” (Philip Random)

fundadelic-mothership

571. with our love

“My introduction to Talking Heads went something like this.  Maybe 1978, artist guy (obviously high on quality drugs) walks up to me at a party and says, ‘Where does everybody live? In some kind of building. What does everybody eat? Food. More Songs About Buildings and Food is about everybody.’ And it was good at parties.” (Philip Random)

TalkingHeadsp-1978

611. Killing an Arab

“No, this is not The Cure advocating hate crime. It’s an examination of existentialism, as spare and unflinching as the French novel that inspired it. That said, we did play Killing an Arab a lot on radio during that first Gulf War. Late winter, early spring 1991, tens of thousands of Arabs being killed for no particular reason, except maybe keeping prices down at the gas pumps. Doesn’t get much more existential than that. I haven’t owned a car since.” (Philip Random)

cure-1978