“Prince (and his Revolution) go drug free psychedelic in the middle of the least psychedelic decade since at least the 1950s, with the title track of their first post Purple Rain album. And it works. The whole album works in its multi-coloured way, not bothering to try to measure up to what had come before, just being its own voluptuous thing. And, for the record, the 1980s were actually quite psychedelic … if you were going to the right parties, hanging around in the right rec-rooms, mountaintops, isolated beaches and islands. Psychedelia was definitely a more isolated thing that decade, and all the stronger for it, like being part of some great and mysterious undefined resistance. What were we resisting? Pretty much everything, it seems.” (Philip Random)
“Viv Akauldren were from Detroit, I think. I seem to remember hanging out with the guitar player one day, wandering the sidewalks of downtown Vancouver, mid-80s sometime. He was overwhelmed by how peaceful it all was – how safe. They were gigging in town that night. The booking agent was a friend. So I guess I was being hospitable. Anyway, it all speaks to how lost so much of that era is. So many great indie outfits coming and going, cranking out powerful stuff, leaving little or no trace. Of course, I did manage to hang onto a copy of one of Viv Akauldren’s albums – Old Bags + Party Rags – which was nicely paranoid, political, psychedelic, and entirely relevant, then and now.” (Philip Random)
The Dukes of Stratosphear being XTC in psychedelic disguise, their first EP 25 O’Clock being one of those sublime moments wherein parody transcends itself, becomes its own wonderful thing. And from 1985 no less, which was about as far from the giddy light of the original psychedelic age as the culture ever got. In fact, go ahead and call 25 O’Clock the turning point, its 25 minutes of wild and weird technicolor pop invention being precisely the kind of superlative noise that could cause a shift in a planet’s orbit.
“The Jesus and Mary Chain seemed to come from nowhere way back when, that lost decade found somewhere within the mid-1980s. Something’s gotta f***ing give, the zeitgeist was screaming, somebody’s gotta take all this noise to its extreme edge, give us all a smug, punk sneer, call it music, cause riots, get arrested, sell records. In the case of You Trip Me Up, that meant taking a nice little la-la-la love song and plugging it into the end of the universe. Sometimes on late night radio, we’d play it at the same time as Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive, both channels maxed to eleven – like competing nuclear mushroom clouds. It had to be done.” (Philip Random)
The Enigmas are the great Vancouver band of the early-mid 1980s that most folks seem to have never heard of. They had the whole 60s garage-psyche thing more than just down – they actually transported you there, not so much back in time as into a whole other dimension that was tighter than punk and/or hardcore, and sexier, but every bit as hard and fast. If a proper recording existed of their umpteen minute live version of the Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction, it would be way up near the top of this list. As for the Windshield Wiper, it’s a dance. The record even came with a diagram.
Old England being the grimmest track found on the Waterboys‘ otherwise mostly uplifting 1985 masterpiece This is the Sea. Because what value empire when it’s children are giving up, choosing instead the kingdom inherent in refined opium? You can see it in their heroin eyes. The sun is most definitely setting. And just to make it clear he wasn’t messing around, main Waterboy Mike Scott would soon be relocating to Ireland with (again) almost entirely uplifting results.
Come the mid 1980s, Shriekback were doing two things very well. Dark and funky rave-ups that could seriously move a dancefloor, and dark and smooth little dreamscapes, that felt equal parts seductive and apocalyptic, rather like the world in general. Like looking your loved one in the eye and hearing a serpent hiss back. Creepy stuff.
“The Show is Coming is a pretty solid blueprint for what much of my 1985 sounded like, all that societal corrosion and apocalyptic immanence in motion. Seriously, who better than the Dub Syndicate, doing as their name suggested, to lay down the required timeless beats and breaks and echoes? Often as not, I never really noticed particular cuts, just threw on mixtapes or tuned in radio shows. But every now and then, something like The Show is Coming did stick out, the smart samples getting my attention, the tough, rock-steady groove doing the rest.” (Philip Random)
“To be clear, the stuff that came to be known as Grunge was alive and raw for years before most of the world ever heard about it. Look no further than Slow, straight outa the mean streets of Vancouver’s plush west side, teenagers with an equal love of punk rock and the likes of Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, ACDC, The Rolling Stones (anything and everything as long as it howled). I remember seeing them one night in 1985 at a small club. Maybe thirty seconds into the opening number (a Temptations cover), the singer (a guy named Tom) was up on the front row tables, kicking everybody’s beers over, instigating rage and ecstasy, smashing atoms by the truckload. Bad boys indeed.” (Philip Random)