3. wild thing

“Because somebody had to do it, set the atmosphere itself on fire, and 1967 was the time for it. Even though it was the 1965 snare shot at the beginning of Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone that really started things, immanetized the particular eschaton we’re concerned with here – punched a hole in the reality barrier, set all the strangeness loose. But it took Jimi Hendrix‘s live set at the Monterrey Pop Festival almost two years later to bring it all back to ground, soak it in lighter fluid, put a match to it, and launch it back out to the edges of all nine universes. And an incendiary cover of Wild Thing (the Troggs’ hit from the previous year) was the climax of that set, the one with all the fire and apocalypse at the end, which even though it would be many years before it ever got a proper release, the roar would be heard regardless, like a thunder from over the horizon, like a rumour from some unnamed war, a secret whispered by your most dangerous friend …

Speaking of which, I suppose I should quote my good friend Simon Lamb here, words so eloquent I had to jot them down (or a reasonable facsimile anyway). We need a secret weapon – something beyond reason and rationality – that cuts through all the wilful blindness of the insane and ignorant – some vast and astonishing noise that simultaneously pile drives and seduces them into seeing. I don’t think he was talking about Hendrix per say. More noise itself. But without him and his Experience (and let’s be honest, a few gallons of LSD) that noise would never have been made, never sent kerrranging out of a billion garages out of a million neighbourhoods in every town every country every planet, because you have to believe this stuff went extraterrestrial long ago and far away, probably that very night in Monterey. I can still hear it ringing in my ears. And I wasn’t even there.” (Philip Random)

22. Mountains

“As I once heard it put, if you’re not into Prince, you’re either racist or homophobic. Because if the 1980s had a Beatles, it was him, particularly up to 1988. Seriously, think about that run of albums: 1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in A day, Parade, Sign of the Times, The Black Album, Lovesexy. And then there’s all the b-sides and whatnot. Or in the case of Mountains, an extended version that isn’t so much a remix as a jam, expansive and epiphanous, like the mountains in question, I guess. The first few minutes are cool and expansive pop with a big beat, but then the genius truly takes over, takes groovy flight. Because by 1986, it was all getting proved on the dance floor, and nobody proved as often, with as much versatility, panache, invention, sheer gobsmacking talent and altitude as the skinny little mutherf***er called Prince.” (Philip Random)

(Morrison Hotel Gallery)

178. celebrated summer

“The sorta punk thrash psychedelic power pop blast of Husker Du’s Celebrated Summer was exactly what my Universe needed in the mid-80s. One night in particular comes to mind. And it wasn’t even Husker Du playing, but an all all-girl band from California (wish I remembered their name) at the Arts Club on Seymour (best live venue this town ever had). 1986 I’m pretty sure, and summertime, which meant Expo was squatting in the near distance sucking all the light and love from things. And I’d just seen Skinny Puppy up at UBC, which was a terrorizing experience, because man, the acid was particularly FUN that night. So yeah, it all came around to the song not so much saving my soul (my soul was fairly intact in those days) as reigniting it with hope, fervour, blinding white light, which is to say, celebrated and wild, erupting with summer. And as soon as we got back to the car, New Day Rising got jammed into the cassette player. Once more unto eternity.” (Philip Random)

HuskerDu-1985-posing

190. rise

“In which John Lydon (aka Rotten) conducts a mid-1980s re-imagining of the concern known as Public Image Ltd, engages with the likes of Bill Laswell, Ginger Baker, Stevie Vai etc, and blows more than a few minds. The album is called Album (of course), with Rise the big (almost) hit single. It’s about Apartheid apparently, but to my ears, it’s concerned more with anger itself, and its inherent elemental energy. Like wind or electricity or the stuff of split atoms, the question quickly becomes not, should we have it (fact is, we do and it ain’t going away), but what should we do with it? Get drunk and wail on some guy down at the pub, or maybe get it focused, turn it into a laser beam that destroys an empire, frees slaves, saves children from lives of boredom and futility? Not bad for a punk.” (Philip Random)

PIL-1986-rottenSneer

208. major malfunction

January 28, 1986. The Space Shuttle Challenger and all on board explode across the consciousness of the world, America in particular. Before the year’s out, Keith Leblanc (drummer, mad scientist, co-inventor of the various grooves that pretty much set hip hop free), will release an album called Major Malfunction, the title of track of which is driven by all manner of relevant audio samples from the day. No sad piano, no violins. Just evidence. Welcome to the future, it seems to be saying. Like a disaster movie with human error the cause.

KeithLeblanc-MajorMalfunction-crop

228. all tomorrow’s parties

“Where the f*** is all the Nick Cave on your list? This from my neighbour, Motron. The easy answer is, well, I only have one album on vinyl, and that’s rule one of this thing. Because all my Nick Cave and/or Birthday Party vinyl was stolen back in 1988, and ever since it’s been CDs or cassettes or just mp3s. The more difficult answer had to do with issues I had concerned Mr. Cave’s tendency toward assholism and romanticizing cooler than death junkiedom. The key word there being ‘had’, because I was wrong on that. And even if I was right, I was still wrong, because a man’s music is often as not the best thing we’ll ever get from him, and thus it should never be shrugged off or denied because of alleged sins. I mean, f*** that kind of judgment. We’re all sinners in our way and doomed to perdition, yadda-yadda-yadda. So here’s to taking the opposite tack. Here’s to embracing the kickass genius of Mr. Cave’s take on the Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrow’s Parties which is still known to cause earthquakes whenever it is heard.” (Philip Random)

NickCave-1986

(photo source)

243. surfin’ dead

“Wherein I apologize for not including any other Cramps offerings on this list. I guess, for me, they were first and foremost a live phenomenon, an ongoing mayhem of so-called Psychobilly and whatever atrocities Lux Interior, Poison Ivy and company felt compelled to commit on any given night. So I never got around to owning any of their albums. In fact, I only have Surfin Dead because it shows up on the soundtrack for Return of the Living Dead the best damned zombie movie of all time. Equal parts scary and hilarious. Rather like the Cramps.” (Philip Random)

Cramps-1984-live

 

272. burn the flames

“The mid 1980s were actually one of the coolest times ever on planet earth. It just didn’t make the papers much. You had to do some digging, listen to the right radio stations, go to the right movies. And few movies have ever got it more right than Return of the Living Dead – the one that doesn’t take anything remotely seriously and ends up being fiercer, wilder, better than than pretty much every other zombie movie ever made before or since. And the soundtrack album’s a definite keeper. Look no further than Roky Erickson‘s Burn The Flames, work of a certifiable madman, completely concerned with luxuriating in the very flames of hell. All for the love of brains.” (Philip Random)

RokyErickson-1986

312. death of the European

“The Three Johns being three guys named John (except one of them was actually Philip) and a drum machine – their general mood being loud and, in the case of Death of the European, somewhat psychedelic. My friend James couldn’t get enough of it for a while in the mid-80s. The yuppie apocalypse, he called it, tragedy of a soulless man having the wrong kind of epiphany as he realizes he’s been feeding a malevolent beast his entire working life, every dollar earned an investment in his own death. The 80s were full of such epiphanies, but they were seldom backed by such a strong soundtrack.” (Philip Random)