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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699. listening wind

Remain In Light is one of those albums that changed me forever. Because here were the Talking Heads, a so-called New Wave band, embracing every sound (musical and otherwise) that the world had to offer and making it work, brilliantly, rearranging how my ears heard music. Listening Wind comes from toward the end of Side-B and speaks of wide open spaces, infinity even, all manner of mystery and imagination and reasons to live. I’ve watched a lot of suns set to this one, and even a few rise.” (Philip Random)

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704. reverse lion + downtown samba

Two tracks that flow together as one in Philip Random‘s mind. “It always bugs me when people call Yello synth-pop. Yeah, they have synths and they’re not afraid to pop, but there’s so much more going on, with their first album Solid Pleasure a solid clue as what it was all about. It was about everything – from drones to sambas to just pure out there techno-pleasures. I had a drummer friend who’d throw side-one onto the turntable and just pound away to it. He said it was all there, everything he could ever want from music. Ten years later, he was a deadhead, but that’s another chapter.” (Philip Random)

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708. somewhere over the rainbow

“I first heard Bobby Blue Bland‘s take on this masterpiece of yearning wafting over a backyard barbeque sometime in the early 1990s. And it was good. I believe I was playing croquet at the time, taking it very seriously, understanding that it was far more than just a game, that it was in fact a working metaphor for the great and imponderable complexity of the universe, and man’s place in it, the games we really must play in order to reconcile it all for our small, but ever expanding brains and imaginations. I’m sure the LSD and Tequila helped.” (Philip Random)

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739. the card cheat

“Second of two in a row from London Calling, the greatest rock and roll album ever (arguably). Released at the very end of the 1970s, that at least makes it the first indispensably great rock and roll album of the 1980s, maybe the last. Commercial radio, of course, only played two tracks but all four sides were nigh on brilliant – the power and rage of full-on punk tempered only enough to allow everything else to burst on through. With The Card Cheat, that meant widescreen rock all brassed up and gunning for the promised land, which is again miles beyond anything Bruce Springsteen could have hoped for at the time, who I’m only mentioning here because his 1980 double album The River had no problem getting played all over the radio.  And it was at least two sides too long.” (Philip Random)

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757. Sister Europe

“Maybe I’d would’ve liked them more if they hadn’t call themselves the Psychedelic Furs. Or as a friend once put it – too much fur, not enough psychedelic. But that doesn’t apply to the first album, which was cool and dark and working more edges than any normal reality could offer. And a rare sound that was in 1980, the new decade dawning with all of its overblown and over-shiny colours and sounds and whatever else. In fact, you can do a pretty good job of tracking all that by just lining up the first three Psychedelic Furs album covers in chronological order. Not bad. Just not getting better.” (Philip Random)

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780. Premonition

Premonition was the first Simple Minds track I ever heard, and it came via mixtape – the follow up to an argument I’d had with a friend about so-called New Wave music.  Simplistic and annoying (my opinion) versus the cool sound of the future (his opinion). I was wrong. The proof was on that tape, Premonition sealing the deal with its big, dark groove. So much so that I was quick to grab the album, embrace the future, even if Simple Minds themselves would eventually come to truly, unironically earn their name, but that took at least five or six albums, so who’s really complaining?” (Philip Random)

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808. Bass Culture

Skull rattling dub poetry c/o Linton Kwesi Johnson makes it clear that reggae music is mostly about the bass, the way it makes a body (and thus a whole culture) move. The drums, they just keep things rock steady.  The guitars, keyboards, horns etc – they’re just along for the ride. It’s the bass that’s going places, and sometimes the poetry, “like a righteous harm, giving off wild like madness.”

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836. wardance

Killing Joke were mixing metal with repetitive beats with their own unique apocalyptic take on life-the-universe-everything long before it was a thing, and to solid, intense effect as Wardance makes abundantly clear. “It’s a 1980 track but I didn’t hear it until 1982, with the Falklands War in full weird roar far, far away. An apparently civilized nation going enthusiastically to war for a more or less random chunk of rock in the remote South Atlantic. It had to be a joke, definitely a joke. And it would kill almost a thousand people before it was done.” (Philip Random)

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