283. the cross

“They say there are no atheists in foxholes. Also Prince concerts back in the day. The memory is of seeing the Purple One live in 1988, the Lovesexy tour. The stage was round. The sound was exquisite. The action was non stop. It was everything a rock and roll show was ever supposed to be, and more. And the musical highlight of the evening, the song that pinned all fifteen thousand of us to the wall was a power anthem about a certain cross and the guy that had to carry it, and how we’ve all got to do the same, one way or another, up that hill to eternity. Yeah, I believed.” (Philip Random)

Prince-1988-live-gtr

 

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287. freak scene

“I kept hearing about Dinosaur Jr. back in the late 1980s but I never consciously heard them. Apparently, they were a throwback to the pre-punk days of big wild guitar solos, epic intentions … but in a good way, which sounded promising. Then I finally did heard Freak Scene some time in 1990 and hell yeah, truth in advertising. Except they were anything but a throwback — guitar so sheer and beaming with fractal light, it was carving gateways into the future. Or at least that’s what it felt like that time at the Commodore, the top of my head lysergically removed from the rest of my body. In a good way. Later, I drove home, still quite high, listening to classical music on the radio – some Shostokowich as I recall. And it all made perfect sense.” (Philip Random)

DinosaurJR-1988-studio

296. Alice Henderson

“A hell of a song from a hell of a band that, for whatever reason, didn’t rise up and become insanely huge. Their first album in particular managed to be heavy and cool and entirely necessary without really sounding like anything anybody else was doing at the time. Which was perhaps the problem. Sons of Freedom were unique … in 1988 anyway. The biz just didn’t know what to do with them. Jump ahead three or five years and I suspect things would have played out differently. But then I would’ve been denied Alice Henderson when I needed it. Winter of 1988 into 89. Did it ever stop raining bullshit? Only when the music played.” (Philip Random)

SonsOFfreedom-blur+guitar

329. silver rocket

Silver Rocket may well be the perfect Sonic Youth nugget. On one level, it’s a ripping cool pop song about riding a silver rocket, I guess, or perhaps heroin. On another, it’s a metaphysical hand grenade that blows a gaping hole through the reality barrier into the next nineteen dimensions. And it accomplishes all of this in barely three minutes.” (Philip Random)

SonicYouth-1988-liveBLUR

349. dance on

“By 1988, the artist still known as Prince pretty much owned the world, pop, cool and otherwise. He wasn’t just cranking out the tightest, funkiest, coolest, most fun and genre exploding stuff on the planet, he was doing so at an insanely prolific rate. In two years alone, 1986 into 1988, you had Parade, Sign of the Times (double album) and Lovesexy, (not to mention the then unreleased Black Album, which found us anyway as a bootleg). So it’s no wonder that a mad piece of avant-pop genius like Lovesexy’s Dance On (go ahead, try dancing to it) might get missed.  And maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe you needed a decade or so to process it. I think I did.” (Philip Random)

Prince-1988-live

356. south of heaven

“How f***ed up was the war on drugs? In Los Angeles, 1993, a few weeks before Christmas, a few weeks after River Phoenix had died on the sidewalk outside the Viper Room, a gram or two of heroin cost less than a gram or two of proper skunk weed due mainly to who and what had been getting busted of late. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if we weren’t day drinking, and feeling that something else was needed in the mix, and Gus from Idaho, being cheap, showed up with some heroin instead of the expected bud. And the thing is, none of us are that cool. We’ve never done heroin, but suddenly there it is getting laid out in narrow brownish lines on the coffee table, and yeah, we’re all just drunk enough to be stupid enough to not give a f***, even if you can die just snorting the stuff, particularly if you’re not used to it, if your body hasn’t built up a decent tolerance, this being common knowledge to anyone who’s seen Pulp Fiction. But then just as Greg from Osoyoos is rolling up a dollar bill, Slayer comes crashing in, full roar on the stereo. It’s Smith from Nelson, calling bullshit, enlisting no lesser ally than Lucifer himself, the Morning Star from his haunt way down south of heaven, demanding we see things at least slightly straight. Long story/short, we Just Said No to the heroin, went out for cheap tacos instead, ended up watching I Love Lucy reruns on some lost cable channel. And Slayer will forever have a place in my heart and soul, somewhere in the paradox file.” (Philip Random)

Slayer-1988-live

412. we will not be lovers

Fisherman’s Blues is the album where main Waterboy Mike Scott went to Ireland for a few days, ended up getting lost on the west coast somewhere, not returning for years (or so the legend goes, and goes, and goes). We Will Not Be Lovers feels like the result of a powerhouse jam session wherein rock and folk attitudes piled into each other in a sustained and brilliant collision. “The words are pretty sharp as well, concerning the opposite of a love. Not hate so much as … well, you know the feeling. You look that other in the eye and all you can see is carnage. And yet you are compelled.” (Philip Random)

 

419. busload of faith

“Some late 1980s truth telling from ole Lou Reed, as bitter and misanthropic as ever, and yet still bothering to deliver great songs, the album known as New York being full of them. With Busload of Faith perhaps the closest he ever got to seeing a light that wasn’t drug fueled. Because it’s true, I think. It was then. It still is now. The facts don’t add up in any kind of hopeful way. Never have, probably never will. We’re all f***ed. We’re all gonna die. And yet life seems to keep on keeping on. Hell if Mr. Reed can get behind it, maybe there is something to this faith thing.” (Philip Random)

LouReed-1988

441. total trash

“The song part of Total Trash is cool enough, but part two is what makes it essential – the noise part, what happens when the various rules of music break down and pure escape velocity takes over. I remember seeing Sonic Youth perform this live in maybe 1991 and having one of those profound and prolonged WOW moments that I can’t help calling religious. I remember thinking, they aren’t really playing this music, they’re just channeling it, deflecting it, aiming it, wrestling with it. It’s like they’d punched a hole in a cosmic dike and suddenly it was all just about containment. But not even that. Because this kind of flood can’t be contained. All you can really do is ride it, keep moving, keep playing, because if you don’t, you’ll get dragged under, and where’s the glory in that?” (Philip Random)

SonicYouth-1988-live