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

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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

448. hit the hi-tech groove

“Was I cool enough to be hip to Pop Will Eat Itself in 1987? I think so. Or maybe it took until 1988. Those were weird days, and seriously, I wasn’t the cool one, it was the people I was hanging with. By 1987-88, I was deep in a negative hole of my own making (though the Reagan Administration had helped), which was manifesting musically as NOISE, and also looking backward, digging through old records, because I couldn’t afford cool new ones. Which by 1987-88 meant Hip-Hop if you were even half paying attention. And I was, I guess, I just wasn’t buying much, because I was so broke. Which reflects now in how woefully misrepresented that form is on this list. Because it’s all there (Guideline #1). Except I did buy Box Frenzy. Or maybe somebody just gave it to me, no doubt because they’d decided Pop Will Eat Itself weren’t properly cool anyway, being white guys, and long-haired geeks at that (Grebo was the name of the scene). But I’d pretty much given up on cool by the end of high school anyway. Lucky me.” (Philip Random)

PWEI-1988-live

484. into the groovy

“In which Sonic Youth muck around with drum machines and whatever, take the piss out of a Madonna song, turn it into a zeitgeist-defining masterpiece. At least, that’s what my friend Martin thought. And he was a loud guy, persuasive. Indeed, there was a brief chunk of 1989 when Into The Groovy really was the greatest record ever, in the history of all humankind. Why argue?” (Philip Random)

SonicYouth-dancing

568. dead dog on the highway

“I had a friend back in the day with ambitions of being a big deal rock video director, which never really panned out. The closest he ever got to anything of substance was meeting somebody who knew somebody that maybe had some pull with Sons of Freedom. I remember him getting all excited, telling me his killer concept for Dead Dog On The Highway. To be shot out in the desert somewhere, the band playing at the side of the highway with every shot taken from passing vehicles, moving fast, so all you ever caught were quick glimpses. Meanwhile, Jesus was being crucified on a hill in the distance (dog being god spelled backwards). Needless to say, the band didn’t go for it. But it would’ve been a good one.” (Philip Random)

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