“The second Violent Femmes album is the one for me, the serious one. Songs of doom and murder and apocalypse and madness and, in the case of Black Girls, f***ing. Which pissed some people off at the time. They called it sexist and racist, but nah, it was just Gordon Gano telling the truth about some of the crazy sh** he got up to when he was young and horny. And man, did they rock it live! Normally just a three piece (and scaled down at that), the Femmes dragged out some horns and things went wild, delirious even. Horny indeed.” (Philip Random)
“The Big Music is the first Waterboys song I ever heard and it didn’t do much for me. It felt too on the nose, and anyway, wasn’t Big Music U2’s thing? But a decade slipped past and I guess I found it serving a different purpose. More of a statement of intent (from Mike Scott in particular) than some half-baked U2 rip-off. Because the Waterboys had since proven themselves entirely their own unique beast, and pagan at that, like the wild crash of surf on a northern shore, at sunset, everything turning blood red. I actually saw that happen once, off Ireland, while listening to a different Waterboys track. Proof that gods exist, and here they were showing off at the edge of things. And they’re still at it, by the way. The Waterboys, that is. I can’t speak for the gods.” (Philip Random)
“In which the band known as Guadalcanal Diary take a campfire singalong about God (or whoever), apply rock and roll thunder and voila! a glimpse of what might just be heaven (or whatever). From 1984’s Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man, which is the first thing I ever heard from them, and the last thing I really needed to. The whole album’s a gem. Even the cover.” (Philip Random)
“If I haven’t seen Repo Man twenty times, I’ve definitely seen it ten. But I still couldn’t tell you how it ends exactly. Something to do with Otto getting into the car with the wigged out mechanic guy Miller … and going for a ride. And then what happens after that? Anything? Does the movie just end? Clearly, it doesn’t matter. Repo Man is a movie of scenes and moments, with more superlative pieces than any random ten Oscar winners put together. And one of them is definitely that scene with the flying car, mainly because of the music. A track called Reel Ten by the band known as the Plugz, who I otherwise know nothing about, except somebody told me they played on Letterman once with Bob Dylan.” (Philip Random)
“A friend brought this rare Tall Dwarfs nugget back from New Zealand in the mid-80s sometime. Garage-psychedelia by way of lo-fi bedroom recording that was as sharp, as grimy, as fresh, as messy as anything else the world was offering me at the time. Crush makes the list for the sheer urgency of its groove, the cardboard box sounding drum sound, and the sort of reverse-punk lyric. How do you feel when you find that the whole world hates you? Like a slugbuckethairybreath monster apparently.” (Philip Random)
“1984 was Frankie‘s year (Goes To Hollywood, that is). Nobody had heard of them before. Nobody would ever really care about them after. The root of it, I figure, was a line from Two Tribes (which won’t be on this list because I’m assuming you’ve heard it). ‘Are we living in a land where sex and horror are the new gods?’ The land they were from was England, but given the degree of international success they had, it’s safe to say they were speaking of the whole mad Cold War world. Which would put the Pleasuredome everywhere, with the bombs about to fall, might as well get your kicks before the whole sh**house burned down (to borrow one from Jim Morrison). Or in the case of Frankie’s debut double album, spread all over the entirety of side one.” (Philip Random)
In which Nash the Slash does full justice to John Hinkely’s undying devotion to Jodie Foster. It may not be the best version of Psychotic Reaction out there, but it is the only one by a one man band who played electric mandolin and violin and never went on stage unless wrapped up in mummy-bandages.
In which Echo + The Bunnymen pay homage to Liverpool local heroes of two decades previous by shambling through an at least half-assed, half-cynical, half-brilliant reimagining of one of the essential summer of love classics. “And the thing is, it f***ing works. At least it did for my psychedelic soul one hot summer day, well into the 1990s. What the hell was I even doing tripping well past my thirty-fifth birthday? Why was I alone in that dank hole of an apartment? What was the fucking point of anything in my misplaced life beyond mere survival, which is the ultimate losing game anyway? And so on. I was on a slippery slope, pitching fast into a darkstar. But then there was Echo + his BunnyFriends in the background, from a random mixtape … reminding me. You’re never really alone, never truly beaten, or doomed. All you’ve got to do is find something to give.”
In which the synth-pop weirdoes known as Fad Gadget tell a necessary truth: all those beautiful new people out there, they just keep collapsing. And thus the world gets a necessary anthem for that point in time (1984) when all the delightfully extreme fashions and hairstyles of the late 1970s, early 1980s finally collided with the mainstream. And yes, there were victims, innocent and otherwise.