481. fade to grey

Fashion victims, we called them. Also sophistos, or simply haircuts. But the correct term was New Romantic. And we could make all the fun we wanted, they had some of the best tunes for a while, with Fade To Grey particularly notable, because it was Visage, Steve Strange‘s group, the guy who’d started it all, shrugged off the ugly extremes of punk and replaced them with a more alluring and androgynous aesthetic – equal parts beautiful and absurd. Glam retro-fitted for the 1980s. And Fade To Grey was definitely beautiful.” (Philip Random)

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503. I Travel

“Back in the very early 1980s, before they became huge, absurd and even stupider than their name implied, Simple Minds were pretty darned cool. Smart modern beats and grooves that weren’t afraid to be dance-able. Lots of pumped up sonics, often machine driven, but hinting at an inner light. And they were strong live. I’m guessing I Travel was about being on the road, not that I ever bothered to study it. Just did what it was telling me, which was hit the dance floor, shake off the ghosts, be glad I was alive in interesting times.” (Philip Random)

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526. in the garden

1986, I think. I finally got to see Bob Dylan in concert. Which was hardly a high point career wise. And the venue didn’t help. Football stadium, bad sound, mid summer hot. Fortunately, he had Tom Petty and his crowd keeping things rock solid, and four powerful women singing gospel style back up. But even so, the life tended to suck out of things whenever Bob opened his mouth. Sad but true. Until one of the encores.  A song called In The Garden that I’d never heard before, obviously from his Christian phase, because it was clearly about Christ and his betrayal. And every word rang true, and glowed like burning coal. I guess he still believed. That night anyway. And I guess I did, too. In the music anyway. ” (Philip Random)

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572. mirror in the bathroom (dub)

Known as the English Beat in the Americas, the British Beat in the Australia, The Beat were a big part of the groovy side of the so-called post-punk/new wave era, certainly at home in Britain, with the dub mix of Mirror in the Bathroom a nifty little number that was effective on the dance floor, in the background at parties, in the car whilst negotiating traffic. Which has always been the special appeal of dub to me – music which is mostly absent words, yet moving in a particular direction anyway. Something to do with sound-tracking the ongoing corrosion of the so-called Western World. And it’s fun.

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582. then [smile]

It’s 1980 and even for the hippest of hippies, the 1960s are long over. And Daevid Allen was definitely one of those: founding member of both Gong and Soft Machine and before that, beat collaborator with the likes of William Burroughs and Terry Riley. And oh yeah, he was in Paris in May 1968, threw his hand in with the insurrection that almost brought the whole of Western Europe to the ground. But jump ahead twelve years and it wasn’t about big movements anymore, it was just you and me, eye to eye, and “… when we have killed each other, then we can the subject.”

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598. concrete jungle

“The release date for Catch A Fire says 1973 but I didn’t have the right ears for Bob Marley and the Wailers (and reggae in general for that matter) until at least 1980. And Concrete Jungle was pivotal in that evolution, and marijuana. By which I mean, Old Ted (one of my more dependable dealers at the time) insisted that I get high on some particularly effective herb, and listen to Catch A Fire with him. ‘Because marijuana will never be free until Jamaica is free.’ Which sounds a bit vague now but trust me, it made profound sense then. And it all started with Concrete Jungle, first track on the album, one of the best bands ever in all creation, slowly slipping things into gear for a revelatory journey through the concrete and shadows of Babylon and beyond.” (Philip Random)

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601. losing faith in words

Peter Hammill  (aka the Jesus of Angst) is probably not a good choice for listening to while high on LSD. But we did it anyway any number of times. I remember Losing Faith in Words popping up once at exactly the right moment once, because words were indeed failing and I was trying to force the issue, which was only ever making things worse in the psychedelic realm, the reality barrier being revealed to be onion-like – peeling away in fractal layers. Stop it, counselled the song! You can’t win at this. And then some ambient Brian Eno got put on and I focused on my breathing.” (Philip Random)

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660. nine to the universe

“Quoting my good friend Mark (who was no doubt stoned at the time), ‘The only essential Jimi Hendrix albums are the ones he recorded while he was still alive.’ By which, of course, he meant the ones that were released while he was still alive. But Mark did allow that 1980’s Nine To The Universe rated at least half an exception, ‘Because, man, some of that stuff is genuine proof of life after death.’ Perhaps because it was the first posthumous Hendrix release to not include dubious overdubs care of a producer who, revered as he may have been in the jazz universe, never should have been allowed near the Hendrix master tapes.” (Philip Random)

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691. the call up

“Have I raved enough yet about how indispensably, imperfectly essential the Clash’s Sandinista is? Probably not. Three slabs of vinyl, thirty-six songs, jams, dubs, meltdowns, whatever you want to call them. Not World Music so much as what the world actually sounded like in 1980-81, including war, here-there-everywhere, young men being called up, sent off to do and die. Which is what The Call-Up‘s about (from about halfway through Side Four). Don’t go, young man. Don’t fall for the patriotic bullsh** of old men whose blood won’t be doing the spilling. Remember that rose you want to live for.” (Philip Random)

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