“More than any other track, I’m thinking Guns of Brixton is what hooked me to the Clash. Because as much as I’d enjoyed their punk and powerful raving and drooling, this was obviously something else. Reggae, I guess, but not really. Because there’s way more going on here than just some white people ripping off Jamaican sounds, making it all sound like tourist music. Nah, Guns of Brixton is dangerous. What do you do when the cops bust in?” (Philip Random)
“I missed Gang of Four at their peak, didn’t catch them live until maybe 1983 by which point they were softening their sound, going for a more friendly sort of agit-funk, and it wasn’t working. But then came Anthrax, saved for the encore. Guitar feedback so poisonous it could wipe out an entire city. And it’s a love song. Sort of. ” (Philip Random)
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.
“Cool and wigged out raver from Devo‘s second album, Duty Now For The Future, which the experts tell me is, at the very least, their second best. And certainly wiser words have seldom been spoken than ‘duty now for the future’. Because the past is done and the present merely is, but the future – that’s where the wiggle is. Not black or white, not straight up and down – a stranger thing, hard to grab, impossible to hold down. Which was Devo in a nutshell circa 1979, exactly as strange as they needed to be.” (Philip Random)
Tusk was the big deal double Fleetwood Mac album that came after the mega-platinum hugeness of Rumours (you may have heard of it) and thus was bound to fail. Gloriously. We do love it when the Music Biz fails thus, throws huge piles of cash and cocaine and marketing buzz at something that dares to be art. Particularly when it contains genuine treasures like Walk A Thin Line, Lindsey Buckingham not just close to the edge, right on it, and walking it just fine.
In which Marianne Faithfull takes a then obscure song written by the same guy who gave us Boy Named Sue and Cover of the Rolling Stone and delivers what some have since hailed as a feminist anthem. Philip Random remembers it first really grabbing him via the movie Montenegro “… that I tend to assume everyone’s seen but hardly anyone actually has. It’s the one where Susan Anspach, wealthy housewife, bored to the point of insanity, finally just bails one day, splits suburbia and her husband and kids, and somehow ends up hanging with some savage eastern European types still playing out blood feuds older than recorded history. It’s a strange movie, disorienting, intense. Anyway, the Ballad Of Lucy Jordan is the song that sends her on her weird journey, inspires her. Finally, she will return to her happy family, except (spoiler alert) the fruit was poisoned.”
“Some folks just can’t get enough Sparks, hence the twenty some albums going back to the early 1970s, and thumbs up to all involved, the culture is never weird enough. But I’ve personally been happy enough with the occasional gem of pure weird pop wonder. Like The Number 1 Song In Heaven, their big deal disco hit from 1979, which features actual changes in time signature, but apparently these didn’t clear the dance floor. At least that’s what I was told. Because I didn’t go to discos at the time. I was more inclined to the anything-but side. With occasional exceptions, because that’s the thing about truly great pop music – it tends to transcend all boundaries.” (Philip Random)
“Magazine were first pitched to me by a guy from Quintessence Records (before it turned into Zulu). Late 1979, maybe early 1980, he kept making it his business to convince me that Prog Rock was dead, that punk had killed it, that whatever cool, innovative, progressive music the future might hold — it would come from punk and the wreckage it had made of all that had come before. Anyway, he more or less forced Second Hand Daylight on me and, which started strong with Feed the Enemy and never really let up. A plane crash over the border, unconvincing border guards, hunger. No room for doubt. That was a future I could grab onto. And holy sh** — what a bass line!” (Philip Random)
“By the time I got around to properly listening to Gang of Four, they were rather past it, attempting to work a sort of white-washed funk that, in retrospect, was probably even worse than it seemed at the time. Or more to the point, subsequent explorations of their earlier stuff revealed a grittier, nastier, far better band. Still somewhat funky, but not remotely clean – the funk being explored in service of the punk, no prisoners being taken, much damage being done.” (Philip Random)