“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)
“If Daydream Nation (Sonic Youth’s best album) is one prolonged exercise in applied escape velocity, ‘Cross the Breeze is one of those prolonged moments where it gets furthest from the ground. I’m pretty sure I saw them do it live in late 1987 sometime, long before the album came out. It was a Sunday night show, and those are almost always duds, the audience too spent from the weekend’s extremes to actually move. But Sonic Youth launched us all anyway, ripped holes through our souls and scattered them ‘cross the breeze. It’s true.” (Philip Random)
“I have no clear memory of when I first heard this ragged Jesus And Mary Chain gem. One of those songs that just sort of percolated into my consciousness in that aforementioned noisy year of 1988, not unlike a terrorist bomb in reverse. All dangerous up front and around the edges but get to the heart of it and you realize there’s a nice little surf tune humming along, deftly undermining the foundations of civilization in the nicest possible way.” (Philip Random)
“No doubt about it, Negativland‘s fourth album Escape From Noise was album of the year 1988, assuming you’d pretty much had it with music by that point, which I had. Not that there weren’t cool songs, essential melodies continuing to percolate. Noise just seemed a more relevant response to the prevailing cultural sewage of the time, which there was no escaping, except by diving full-on into it, which is what Escape From Noise (song and album) is really all about. And it’s hilarious, from beginning to end.” (Philip Random)
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)