“Springtime, 1989, the year I ended up in London somehow. It’s a long story, which only matters here because that’s where I found Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden. Lonely, very low on cash, wandering through the big HMV near Piccadilly and there it was on cassette, remaindered, dead cheap. What I knew of Talk Talk was that they were a better than average synth-pop outfit. What I was completely unprepared for was the deep and spacious and ultimately gobsmackingly epic first side of Spirit of Eden – three titles (The Rainbow, Eden + Desire) but all seamless song to my ears, and exactly what I needed to set my soul free and get my thinking straight toward sorting out the problem of the rest of my life. I left town the next day.” (Philip Random)
“In 1989, when Can U Dig It was fresh and entirely cool, it felt inconceivable that this particular Pop wouldn’t just eat itself, it would eat the whole f***ing world. Because Pop Will Eat Itself had a beatbox, samples, world eating smarts and guitars – who needed anything more? But it wasn’t to be. Can U Dig It did not hit massive all over and everywhere. I guess the Poppies just weren’t cute enough (or maybe black enough). And ultimately, who cares? It’s the world’s loss, not mine. I’ve still got my Furry Freak Brothers, my Twilight Zone, my pumping disco beats. And yeah, Alan Moore still knows the score.” (Philip Random)
“Speaking of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, call this one punk rock, Ecstatically inspired. In other words, blame it on the drugs. Or whatever it was that got the Stone Roses mixing up mystical insight and balls out provocation in such a way as to declare themselves both the resurrection and the son (singer Ian Brown anyway). I Am The Resurrection being the epic final track of their 1989 debut album that really did blow the roof off of things. The whole album, that is, every song essential. Call it a masterpiece, messianic even. These Roses really were perfect, they had all the answers, they were showing the way. But then, I guess, they started doing different drugs.” (Philip Random)
Alternately known as St. Che or merely Che, this outfit was basically just Tackhead anyway, which is confusing, because Tackhead was also Fats Comet and/or Mark Stewart’s Maffia and/or Little Axe (though that came later) and/or Keith Leblanc working solo. He was the drummer, the other key three players being bassist Doug Wimbish, guitarist Skip MacDonald and producer, mixmaster extraordinaire Adrian Sherwood. The first three originally connected as the house band for Sugarhill Records but it took colliding with Mr. Sherwood to truly unleash the kind of outfit that defines zeitgeists. Big fat beats, funky grooves, charged samples all toward the kind of soundtrack that a proper apocalypse needs, and the 1980s were nothing if not a rolling apocalypse (if you had the right kind of eyes). As for Che, little is known beyond this single and then, a few years after the fact, an album that hardly anyone heard. Which is pretty much par for the whole Tackhead story. Essential but you’ve got to go looking for it.
An atypical Dylan track, given its comparative lack of words, the great man holding back some, letting the atmosphere speak (c/o Daniel Lanois’ masterful production). So in the end, it’s like a troubled dream that never resolves, just leaves you with questions and shadows and rumours of apocalypse. Who is he anyway, the man in the long black coat? And why does the mere thought of him fill you with dread?
“The release date of Berlin based Einsturzende Neubauten‘s fifth album Haus Der Luge was 4-September-1989, roughly two months before The Wall finally fell. So yes, all that rage and delirium you’re feeling, it’s the real thing, the house is indeed full of lies, the new buildings are all coming down, Neubauten being one of those bands who absolutely sounded like the history they were riding, the sum result of forty-odd years of two opposed worlds grinding up against each other, something/everything finally giving. Historians now seem to give Ronald Reagan the credit. F*** that sh**. It was Neubauten all the way. Music that dissolved concrete, melted barbed wire, changed everything forever. At least, that’s what it felt like at the time.” (Philip Random)
“Yes, that is Michael Hutchence laying out the bleak truth care of his other ‘band’, Max Q, which briefly co-existed with INXS but only briefly. One album, no tours. But The Way of the World found me anyway. Must’ve been the feel good lyrics. You are born into this world – Looking down the barrel of a gun – And those who hold the gun – Want you to work fast and die young – And if you don’t work – If you don’t obey – They’ll make you live in fear till your dying day. And that’s just the first half of the first verse.” (Philip Random)
“I pretty much gave up on Bob Dylan in the 1980s. Yeah, the old songs were mostly still gathering no moss, but ever since he’d stumbled out of all the Jesus stuff, nothing fresh or necessary seemed to be happening. Everything overproduced, voice way too thin, barely cutting the mix at all, and it kept getting worse. But then, from out of nowhere, right at the end of the decade, the man suddenly delivers Oh Mercy, with Political World the lead off track, telling no lies, taking no prisoners. Like he’d been undercover the whole time, pretending lame, but always taking notes, and now here he was, filing his report, and deep and rich it was. It may even have brought down Soviet Union.” (Philip Random)
“The Pixies were nothing if not fresh when I first heard them, which was pretty much as they hit. All the rage and bile of punk and hardcore applied to a smart, tight pop sense. But I’d be lying if I said I was entirely blown away. Because there was something a little too obvious about it. Like, why had it taken so long for somebody to put this formula together? Also, you had all manner of other stuff erupting at the time, all kinds of cool futures getting invented. It was only maybe five years later, (after they’d broken up) that I realized just how strong and good a band they were, with Doolittle the album they’d never top.” (Philip Random)