526. in the garden

1986, I think. I finally got to see Bob Dylan in concert. Which was hardly a high point career wise. And the venue didn’t help. Football stadium, bad sound, mid summer hot. Fortunately, he had Tom Petty and his crowd keeping things rock solid, and four powerful women singing gospel style back up. But even so, the life tended to suck out of things whenever Bob opened his mouth. Sad but true. Until one of the encores.  A song called In The Garden that I’d never heard before, obviously from his Christian phase, because it was clearly about Christ and his betrayal. And every word rang true, and glowed like burning coal. I guess he still believed. That night anyway. And I guess I did, too. In the music anyway. ” (Philip Random)




529. Cuyahoga

“I gave up trying to figure out what Michael Stipe was on about very early on. The first few REM albums, he was mumbling, which made it easy. But then, come Life’s Rich Pageant, he was suddenly enunciating, you could now decipher words – they just weren’t adding up. Except maybe Cuyahoga. Because I’d read about the Cuyahoga as a little kid. The river that was so polluted with man made chemicals and whatever that it actually caught fire, Cleveland, Ohio, 1969. That’s the kind of fact that’s all too meaningful.” (Philip Random)


559. expressway to yr skull

Evol (the name of the album in question) is love spelled backward, which is pretty much what was going on in 1991, Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, as Sonic Youth warmed up Neil Young + Crazy Horse, choosing not to pander even slightly to all the aging hippies in the house, but rather to deliver unto them a profound and beautiful and sustained NOISE. The climax came with Expressway to Yr Skull, which actually starts out kind of nice, but then ‘We’re Gonna Kill – The California Girls – We’re gonna fire the exploding load in the milkmaid maidenhead.’  The hippies were very confused, angry even, but I just laughed. The times, they just kept a-changing.” (Philip Random)


656. move me

“It’s maybe 1986 and the Commodore Ballroom is packed – some big deal band about to play. But first there’s a warm up act, a new British outfit nobody’s ever heard of called Wood-something. They open with a pumped acoustic thing that proceeds, over its three or four minutes, to amp up into something so extraordinary that we all know exactly who they are by the time it’s done. The Woodentops, who it’s sad to say, never really got any better, but man were they great that night! I don’t remember who the headliners were.” (Philip Random)


687. drop the bomb

“A friend of mine caught Trouble Funk live around this time (1986) while on business in their hometown of Washington, DC (on a Saturday night, of course). I remember him trying to describe the show to me. Like rap, except not at all really because they weren’t rapping, and there was a full-on band. And Holy F***ing Sh** did did people go wild for it! Drop The Bomb indeed.” (Philip Random)


689. ease

Nobody saw this coming in the mid-1980s. Public Image Ltd (aka whatever original Sex Pistol John Lydon feels like doing) hooks up with Bill Laswell, Ginger Baker, Riuchi Sakamoto, Stevie Vai (and more) and cranks out the closest thing to a proper Led Zeppelin planet cruncher that anybody’d heard since Physical Graffiti. The album was called Album (unless you bought it in cassette or CD format) and Ease was the furthest it went toward setting the atmosphere on fire.


784. alcohol heart

54-40 have given us a lot of good albums over the years, but the only one I’d truly call great was their second, the one called simply 54-40. A mostly straight up rock record that was (a rarity for the 1980s) not a pile of dumb clichés, but rather a collection of smart, solid songs with Alcohol Heart a particular stand out because it never got overplayed (even on campus and community radio) and yes, as a matter of fact, it tells the truth. Drink enough (but not too much) and close your eyes, and you really can feel the whole damned world.” (Philip Random)


801. sweet bird of truth

The The (aka Matt Johnson) being the last word in ‘The’ bands, Infected being their second (or perhaps third) album, and though not as overwhelmingly soulful and melodic and relevant as its predecessor, Soul Mining, it was still pretty darned strong. Sweet Bird of Truth was the lead off single, and sweet it wasn’t, because it was 1986, and if you were reading the papers, it was pretty clear we were all gonna die, and soon, what with the arms race out of control, Ronald Reagan slipping into dementia, the Doomsday Clock ticking closer and closer to midnight. And if that wasn’t keeping you up at night, there were all those angry folks in the Middle East and beyond seen often on TV, jamming city streets, shaking their fists, Death To The Infidels and all that, and we deserved it. Sweet Bird of Truth captured all of this rather nicely.”



834. Lion of Symmetry

“Tony Banks (keyboard guy and founding member of Genesis) partners with Toyah Willcox (actress, proto punk, emergent pop songstress, and in 1986, only recently married to Robert Fripp) to deliver the definitive Genesis track of 1980s. Or so it felt at the time — that stark realization that it wasn’t my former favourite band that I’d become allergic to, but their fundamentally annoying front man. Because given a big, ambitious Banks composition to work with, she sent things out of the stratosphere. At least that’s how it hit me late one night, alone, a little high, headphones on, listening to a mixtape a friend had left in my car. Suddenly I was that lion,  free and savage and symmetrical (whatever that was supposed to mean). Epic stuff.” (Philip Random)