“In which Laurie Anderson reminds us that sometimes you’ve just gotta go with your intuition. If you see a guy and he looks like a hat check clerk, he is a hat check clerk. And everything that suggests. To which I must add, I have no idea what that is. And I doubt Laurie Anderson did either, early 1980s, just rolling with the zeitgeist which she was in the process of turning inside out with her strange gear and her stranger stories. And the pinks of the world are still trying to make sense of it. Stop making sense.” (Philip Random)
“Australian outfit Hunters + Collectors took their name from a Can song, though you’d be hard pressed to make the connection as things evolved. But back at the beginning of things, their first album in particular, if you were looking for the big true primal sound of Down Under in all of its dust and grime and imponderable, uninhabitable vastness – well, it was all there. Or in my particular case, it was a local rawk club, 1986 or thereabouts, way the hell out in suburban Richmond (British Columbia, that is), the kind of place where cool bands never played, but for whatever reason, someone booked Hunters + Collectors. Just getting there was a journey in itself but trust that minds were blown, souls were lifted. Particularly as Run Run Run roared through its epic second half. ‘For the ages,’ somebody muttered afterward. And it the whole nine minutes were that strong, well, it’s probable the Eschaton would already have been immenatized.” (Philip Random)
Kate Bush‘s fourth album, The Dreaming, is one of those artefacts that continues to force jaws to drop from beginning to end, every strange and delicious second. But if you’ve only got time for one song, go with the title track wherein a groove is stolen from a Rolf Harris song, then merged rather hilariously with the sound a kangaroo makes when it gets hammered by a van. And then it all just keeps deranging from there, as dreams will do.
“Speaking of reggae, I’d be lying if I said the Clash weren’t one of my key entry points, still to this day maybe the only white reggae band that ever truly mattered. Because somehow or other, they got the depth of it, not just the easy, stoned sunshine grooves. Like Sean Flynn (concerning Errol Flynn’s son, a photojournalist who was killed in the Cambodian spillover of the Vietnam war) a song which maybe isn’t reggae at all, but it’s definitely dub, Apocalypse Now derived hallucinatory helicopter blades, intense heat, but you’re somehow floating above it all, finding just enough altitude to see some beauty without denying any of the tragedy.” (Philip Random)
“Somebody told me a while back that Monsoon‘s Ever So Lonely was the first official World Music hit, whatever that means. Because it’s not as if they had a World Music chart back in 1982. Do they even have one now? I hope not. I mean, it’s all world music anyway, isn’t it? Which isn’t to say Ever So Lonely wasn’t one of the freshest things I’d ever heard when it first crossed my path. Not just the purity of the melody and Sheila Chandra‘s then sixteen year old vocals, but it was also a darned fine production, good strong beat, a joy to dance to, and the clubs were where I first heard it, the extended (and better) club mix, everybody going ecstatically off the planet altogether.” (Philip Random)
In which Yazoo (or perhaps merely Yaz) remind us that in the early days of synth-pop, it was pretty much obligatory that an album include some genuinely experimental side-trips, because why not? But in the case of In My Room, it ends up being way more than just some mucking around with tape loops and sound effects. It’s a smart, soulful examination of angst, loneliness, confusion – all the things that go on in one’s room.
3 Teens Kill 4 only ever released one album, but it was a good one, very much in synch with the temper of the increasingly nasty times. In the case of Tell Me Something Good, that meant grabbing some audio from the TV coverage of John Hinkley‘s attempted 1981 assassination of Ronald Reagan, laying it over some mutated funk and turning it into a cover of that Rufus song. And nobody complained really. Homeland Security were not called. Nobody got stuck on a no-fly list. Welcome to the 1980s when such at thing as an art underground was more than just a marketing term; it actually existed, a dark and mysterious place that was genuinely hard to get to, or get out of.
In which Malcolm McLaren, best known for his genius level mismanagement of the Sex Pistols (it’s a long story) leaves Punk well in the rear view and embraces … what exactly? “It was Young Tim (friend of a friend) that turned me onto Duck Rock. More to the point, he forced it on me, because I wasn’t biting at first. Even with the Pistols connection. Because the guy clearly could not sing, and there was no evidence of proper punk aggro on it anywhere. Just exotic sort of party grooves and sounds (sampling before we even had a name for it, Trevor Horn take another bow). And, in the case of Double Dutch, high school girls skipping rope with a vengeance. Until one night, a little wasted, there I was dancing to it. It was fun. Cultural boundaries were eroding, great Jericho walls were crumbling, everything seemed possible, I was smiling.” (Philip Random)
“One more from that lost and forgotten alt-reality wherein the 1980s were everything they should have been and a record like the Undertones‘ Love Parade hit the toppermost of the poppermost – melodic, soulful, full of light, and so damned popular we all got sick of it. But it wasn’t so we didn’t, so thank all gods for that. And man, that Feargal Sharkey could sing.” (Philip Random)