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)
“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)