Speaking of Vancouver bands of the 1980s that never got their proper due, why the hell is Sons of Freedom‘s Super Cool Wagon not the Hockey Night in Canada Theme? Seriously. Found on one of the great overlooked debut albums ever released by a Canadian band (or any other nationality for that matter), it’s truth in advertising: super powered, and it just crunches coolly along, afraid of nothing, elbows up all the way.
If I Should Fall From Grace With God is the album where the Pogues made it clear that they were more than just a rowdy bunch of ex-punks who’d figured their parents folk music went well copious amounts of alcohol and drugs. Nah, they were worldbeaters now, with a raw handle on their roots-based instrumentation that let them go pretty much anywhere they cared, slay any dragon. Only the aforementioned drugs and alcohol could stop them now, which they did. Sort of.
The Godfathers being another one of those 1980s bands that should’ve hit way bigger than they did, with 1988’s Birth School Work Death (song and album) the closest they ever came to a proper breakthrough. “When I Am I Coming Down is exactly what it sounds like. The story of a bad trip. My friend Gary likened it to losing control of your car. You’re bombing along at high speed and everything’s perfect, superlative even. Until you’re halfway around a bend, going maybe ninety mph and you lose traction, with various trees, a ditch, a fence, all looming. You are going to crash. The question is, how will you crash? And what will you crash into? Everything playing out in very slow motion.” (Philip Random)
“The Beatnigs only released one album, and it’s unique. A place where industrial noise and all manner of other musics don’t so much blend as find a way to grind together, intensely and intelligently, with Nature a standout because I agree with Michael Franti, yeah, I love all the doves and coyotes and flamingoes and rats running wild and free, but short of a dog or two, all of my favorite animals are human.” (Philip Random)
Alphabet Street being the lead off track from the last truly great Prince album, 1988’s Lovesexy. “We didn’t realize it at the time but he really did have to reign things in, else there would have been no reason for humanity continuing, God’s own paradise of peace and love and f***ing having been achieved on earth by Prince Rogers Nelson‘s unstoppable cavalcade of genius.” (Philip Random)
Wherein suburban tape pirates Negativland get busy with pretty much every oversweet MOR pop song and radio jingle from the 1970s, (and the tapes that prove the brain control conspiracy at hand) grind everything together in an overripe mush and leave us all laughing at the fact that nothing is really funny anymore. Shut up. Stop complaining. Have another piece of meat.
A Led Zeppelin rocker from 1975’s Physical Graffiti, but for Philip Random, it was more of a 1988 record. “A pivotal year for me. At the time, it was just something to be endured, one of those phases where the winter winds never stopped howling, even in the middle of summer (figuratively speaking of course). The Winter of Hate we ended up calling it. Aliens with a hunger for human flesh had taken over all the world’s governments and the only thing worth laughing about was that nothing was funny anymore. Musically, this manifested in a lot of pure raw noise as even punk/hardcore wasn’t really fierce enough anymore. Or maybe I was jonesing for some honest, raw, nasty blues – the kind of stuff Led Zeppelin had in ample supply on their biggest, longest, last truly great album. Man did it sound right!”
“A Sonic Youth song about Joni Mitchell (or so I think I read somewhere years ago), found on 1988’s Daydream Nation, a psychedelic epic if there ever was one (even if it did show up in a most un-psychedelic year), or whatever. I’ve always had trouble putting words to Daydream Nation like an unexpected future kicking through all the gloom and permafrost of its time, full of cool and fierce and infinitely complex noise, and in that complexity hope. Or something like that.” (Philip Random)
“Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation being arguably The Greatest Album Ever assuming you don’t mind a pile of noise mixed up with your raw yet mystical guitar stylings, Kissability being the kind of nugget that would’ve torn the charts apart in a better, cooler world. But good luck with that in the Winter of Hate, which is to say, 1988. Twenty years on from the Summer of Love, and trust that it rained every f***ing day. Nothing else to do but daydream.” (Philip Random)