“Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps was the final album of his best decade (1970s), the one where he acknowledged punk rock while reminding us that he and Crazy Horse had been making a proper garage racket long before the likes of the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones hit the scene. Not that Rust Never Sleeps is a punk rock album, just raw and loud, and that’s all reserved for Side Two which kicks off with the one of a kind epic Powderfinger. Epic, sorrowful, poetic — I always assumed it was about the American Civil War, a young kid left behind to defend the farm (or whatever), facing down an approaching enemy with no hope at all yet determined to pull the trigger anyway. But that’s just my read. Different from Neil’s, I’m sure. And everybody else’s for that matter.” (Philip Random)
“Come 1980, The Clash really had nothing left to prove to anyone, having delivered perhaps the greatest rock and roll album of all time in the waning days of 1979, the four-sided monster known as London Calling. So what to do next except everything, which gave us the six-sided mega-monster Sandinista. Charlie Don’t Surf shows up well into things, a song that takes a line from Apocalypse Now and extrapolates from there, all distant helicopters and dreamy if discordant keyboards. A friend of mine heard it once at a bar in Jamaica and it worked so well it didn’t even register until a few hours later that The Clash’s take on reggae had made it to a Jamaican mixtape! Were they really that good? Apparently so.” (Philip Random)
The entirety of Talking Heads’ third album Fear of Music is essential, but I Zimbra stands out for broad hint it offers of what would happen if Talking Heads (at the vigorous encouragement of their producer Brian Eno) were to maybe leave the whole punk/new wave thing behind, take a wild dive into the whole world, Africa in particular. Shrug it all off as cultural appropriation as some have over the years, but things were different then, the world was bigger, our maps magnitudes less complete. And anyway, things seem to be correcting of late.
“In which the band known as Wire deliver the future circa 1979 from one of the great albums. Call it power pop, I guess, all angles and perhaps cold light. As for the map reference, I looked it up. It’s a placed called Centerville, Iowa, for no reason I can grasp … other than being the absolute center of Absolute Middle America (speaking of psychic topography here), which is about the last place you’d expect something like Map Ref 41°N 93°W to ever be a hit. Certainly not in 1979.” (Philip Random)
It’s 1979 and man, it’s cold out there. Back in the 1950s, they said wine, women and song. Come the 1960s, it was drugs, sex and rock and roll. Now, almost into the 1980s, it’s just, I will drug and fuck you on the permafrost. At least, that’s how the band known as Magazine put it on their second album, Second Hand Daylight, as bleak as it was invigorating, taking all the bile and negation of punk and smartening it up some, getting progressive even.
“A tight modern pop song with the kind of sharp, icy edge that defines a sonic future for all mankind. Which is pretty much what Wire did in 1979 with 154 (one of the greatest albums of any time) and songs like the 15th. Hell, I didn’t even hear it until at least five years later, called up the DJ because I had to know what this cool new song was.” (Philip Random)
“David Lee Roth may be a world class ass but he does have a way with a one-liner, such as, ‘The reason more rock critics like Elvis Costello than Van Halen is that more rock critics look like Elvis Costello than Van Halen.’ Which is my way of saying, I guess I’m just not a critic, because I’ve never been an overwhelming Elvis C fan (more of an appreciator really), and most of his tracks that I do really like, you’ve probably already heard them a bunch, and thus they exude allergy potential. But not Green Shirt from 1979’s Armed Forces. I never heard too much Green Shirt. Tight, sharp, and smart as pop.” (Philip Random)
“This one came our way in 1979 (c/o London Calling, arguably the greatest album of any and all time), but it never had more currency for me than the summer of 1984. We dropped a lot of LSD that summer, in our mid-twenties by then. Old enough to know better, of course, or maybe just go further, higher, deeper through the absurdities of the ever corroding western world whose edges and holes and voids we felt compelled to explore. This meant going public with acid in our veins, taking it to malls, video arcades, strip joints, crowded downtown streets, fair grounds, everywhere, every weird and ugly thing. Getting lost in the supermarket, we called it.” (Philip Random)
“The first time I even heard the name Throbbing Gristle, it forced a reaction. Like a strong (not necessarily bad) smell had suddenly filled the room that you couldn’t not notice. Which is rather how What A Day sounds. Go ahead and dismiss it as noise, but good luck ignoring it. I like to think of it as a top 40 single from an alternate reality where lying is illegal, punishable by death. So if someone’s stupid enough to ask you how your day went and it truly sucked, you’d be compelled to unleash.” (Philip Random)