358. higher than the sun

In which Primal Scream discover drugs, forget who they used to be, set their controls for the heart of the sun and somehow go further. Or as Philip Random noted at the time, “There were two suns that day, everything split, refracted. There was acid in the mix, and serious altitude, and an ocean. And some sort of abyss that at least one of our retinue seemed to be at the point of falling into forever and in fact they did for at least a while, yet such is the nature of genuinely amplified psychedelic confusion, this wasn’t really discussed at the time, we were more concerned with oceans and shores and solid ground, how the higher goal seems to be both being out there committed to the waves and the currents of eternity but also firmly rooted in some sort of metaphysical ground. It didn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. Unless there are in fact two suns, two worlds, two solar systems, maybe billions. And so on. This went on forever but it was all over by the end of the song in question, which was Primal Scream’s Higher than the Sun, a sort of extended version of the extended version pumping away on the ghetto blaster that we’d dragged with us to this edge, this ledge, this forehead of the world.  And then we all went home, ate solid food and drank red wine, yet nothing would ever be the same. Maybe this all happened. Maybe it didn’t. But I do remember it.” Found on 1991’s Screamadelica which needs to be heard by everyone eventually.

PrimalScream-1992-live

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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

447. false leader

Gary Clail gets the credit here but there are all kinds of folks involved in this coolly groovy yet grimly apocalyptic few minutes from 1991, with On-U Sound at the heart of it all. I’d say the 1980s were more their time, when their fusion of dub, punk, politics, NOISE mattered most. It manifested in various bands, singers, poets, players, but it was pretty much always Adrian Sherwood working the final mix. With a track like False Leader pulling it all together, throwing down a gauntlet that the future’s still trying to figure out. And yes, they are still at it.” (Philip Random)

GaryClail-1991-videoEYE

482. big city

“The 12-inch single version of Big City is the one for me, Spacemen 3 locking things into extended and ethereal trance mode for many long and hypnotic minutes. A driving song, I figure, ideal for being alone in a great big city. Nothing to do but cruise your solitude, bright lights, lots of shadow.” (Philip Random)

Spacemen3-1991-promo

487. earth [gaia]

“You’ve probably noticed there’s not much stuff from the 1990s on this list even though the cut-off date is officially summertime 2000. That’s because I generally didn’t buy new vinyl past about 1989. Is this fair to the 1990s? No. And I’m sorry about that. This list is not fair. This list is not definitive. Yet it would be incomplete without some Orb, from 1991’s The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, because I had to have that one on vinyl, all four sides of it, something I could look at BIG and spread out, while it played BIG and spread out, not unlike the entirety of the universe, known and otherwise.” (Philip Random)

Orb-UltraWorld

559. expressway to yr skull

Evol (the name of the album in question) is love spelled backward, which is pretty much what was going on in 1991, Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, as Sonic Youth warmed up Neil Young + Crazy Horse, choosing not to pander even slightly to all the aging hippies in the house, but rather to deliver unto them a profound and beautiful and sustained NOISE. The climax came with Expressway to Yr Skull, which actually starts out kind of nice, but then ‘We’re Gonna Kill – The California Girls – We’re gonna fire the exploding load in the milkmaid maidenhead.’  The hippies were very confused, angry even, but I just laughed. The times, they just kept a-changing.” (Philip Random)

SonicYouth-1991-liveCHAOS

579. when tomorrow hits

By the time When Tomorrow Hits hit, Spacemen 3 had already broken up for all the regular reasons that drug addled, pioneering psychedelic outfits break up, and then some. A cover of a Mudhoney original, it was supposed to be part of a double-A split single which would also feature Mudhoney’s version of Spacemen 3’s Revolution, but for whatever hazy reason, that didn’t happen. What does happen is Spacemen 3’s equal parts smoother and sharper take on When Tomorrow Hits, particularly that part toward the end, when it hits!

Spacemen3-1991

738. to be free

“Strong sense of groove and melody, lots of cool, modern dub tricks – The Strange Parcels seemed to have it all when I first heard them back in 1991 care of On-U Sound‘s Pay It All Back Vol.3 (which remains one of the great compilation albums of any era, as do pretty much all the others in the series). But then, that was about it. An album would eventually show up a few years later, but I was onto other things by then, as was the world, I guess. But I did keep going back to Pay It All Back Vol.3 in general, To Be Free in particular, key ingredient in many a mixtape, dragged to many a house party, bonfire, mountaintop. Soundtrack for this slow apocalypse, still ongoing.” (Philip Random)

StrangeParcels

973. when you sleep

“The problem with any My Bloody Valentine record is, however brilliant it may be, it can’t exist in same sonic universe of that same song performed live. Case in point, When You Sleep from Loveless. On record, it’s a superbly textured experimental pop song with a pronounced dreamy edge. Whereas live, in the Commodore, 1992, it was a gauntlet thrown down by the gods. Swoon in our psychedelic power and complexity, it demanded. And maybe half the crowd did.  The other half were gone by shows end, complaining about the noise.” (Philip Random)

mbv-live