129. Supper’s Ready

“Speaking of Peter Gabriel, if I’d compiled this list in say 1979, Genesis would’ve been all over it (particularly their Gabriel era stuff), with Supper’s Ready likely right on top, certainly in the top three. But such is the nature of this culture stuff. It won’t stop twisting, turning, swallowing its own tail, vomiting it all back up, eating it again. In other words, I grew kind of allergic to Supper’s Ready for a while, an affliction for which I only have myself to blame. I loved it too much, wanted too much from it. A song about everything. A song very much about the Apocalypse — Pythagoras with a looking glass, the beast 666, the guaranteed eternal sanctuary man, Winston Churchill dressed in drag, and ultimately the new Jerusalem, good conquering evil, an angel shouting with a loud voice, souls rising in ever changing colours, as a germ in a seed grows, like a river to the ocean, and so on …

Epic stuff ripped straight from the Bible itself, but not without a serious dollop of absurdist fun. The weird part is, I didn’t even hear it until 1977 (five years after it first showed up on the album known as Foxtrot, two years after Gabriel had split the band) by which point there was a punk storm blowing nasty and vindictive. But that was me in my late teens, as uncool as I’ll ever be, and yet life has seldom seemed so rich, the smorgasbord so alluring. Except then I had to go and eat way too much. Which gets us to the title finally. Supper’s Ready. Apparently it’s a reference to the very end of the Bible†, the final scene of the book of revelations (and here I’m sort of quoting my late friend James who used to study this kind of stuff before he decided life just wasn’t worth the trouble anymore). Apparently when all is said is done, Satan vanquished, Christ triumphant, God’s kingdom established here on earth, there will be a huge feast to which all the worthy, the sainted, the blessed, the good are invited. Apparently, it will be one heaven of a feed. But in the meantime, we’re all doomed to just keep on keeping on.” (Philip Random) 

(image: Armando Gallo)
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130. here comes the flood

“It was the night John Lennon was murdered. My friend Simon dropped by with some LSD and, given the extremes of the moment, our fates were sealed. It was our profound duty to now trip the vast lysergic, play a pile of Beatles records and see where the mystical magical vibrations might take us. They took us to dawn, sitting in my car now, high up a hilltop, taking in the first grey light of a cold and misty day. We had Simon’s little brother asleep in the backseat with a dog named Alice (it’s a long story) … but the Beatles weren’t on the playlist anymore. We’d sort of lost track of them as things started to peak, the gods having other plans for us apparently. Now it was a mixtape Simon had made of more recent stuff, moody and cool and mostly instrumental. Except here was Peter Gabriel suddenly, singing Here Comes The Flood, but not the version from his debut album, this was sparer, sharper, far better. I later discovered it was from Robert Fripp’s Exposure album — everything peeled back to just voice, piano and some ghostly Frippertronics. A song of apocalypse, no question, of saying goodbye to flesh and blood. Yet not forecasting doom in the end, but rather a sort of dreamlike survival. And then the rain really started to deluge on that hilltop. And it still hasn’t stopped, not really, the 1970s being known as the last decade that the sun ever really shone.” (Philip Random)

135. it’s alright ma, I’m only bleeding

Bringing It All Back Home being Bob Dylan’s other 1965 album, the one that preceded Highway 61 Revisited and the apocalyptic Like A Rolling Stone snare shot which gave this whole project impetus. But such is the nature of apocalypse, the space-time continuum gets scrambled. Which makes It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding an appropriately timely version of the Six O’clock News circa 1965. Young man wired on amphetamines and Beaujolais and a truckload of symbolist poetry, grabs a great roll of paper and gets to typing, Jack Kerouac style. The words seem to be about all manner of stuff. The words††† seem to be about everything. Hell, I remember an old cab driver friend insisting it was about Jesus Christ himself, up on the cross, having his moment of doubt, seeing through messianic eyes all the future desolation of so-called modern man. Then the vision fades and he notices his mom, Mary, in real time, no doubt as worried as any mother has ever been. So he gives her a wink, says not to worry, he’s alright, except for all the bleeding.”

(image source)

 

139. all the seats were occupied

Second of two in a row from possibly the most evil album of all time, Aphrodite’s Child’s 666, a four sided monster of a concept completely concerned with … well, what is it all about? According to principal composer and keyboard wizard Vangelis Papathanassiou said, “the answer to the question 666 is today.” Lyricist Costas Ferris (taking a break from his main job of film directing) has been less elusive, citing the central concept as a counter-cultural interpretation of the Book of Revelation, in which a circus show based on the apocalypse performs for an audience at the same time that the real apocalypse is happening outside the circus tent … with All the Seats are Occupied the prolonged and climactic point where these two apocalypses finally collide and all hell breaks loose. Literally. But is it really hell? Aphrodite’s Child being a rarity for all time, a psyche-prog-pop-rock outfit straight outa Greece, apocalypse being a Greek word not for the the catastrophic End of All Things, but for the drawing back a sheet, an unveiling of a new and mysterious thing. So why all the panic humanity?

140. the four horsemen

Aphrodite’s Child being a Greek psyche-prog outfit who didn’t seem to recognize a boundary between sweetest syrup and the hottest fires of hell, musically speaking. It was all just part of the same grand feast. At least, that’s how it feels on 666, their third and biggest and most extreme album, and their most evil, some might argue – the four-sided concept being no less than a musical adaptation of the final chapter of the Holy Bible, the Book of Revelation. With the Four Horsemen being the closest any single track comes to pulling everything together into a single, cohesive (almost) radio friendly unit shifter, the Lamb having opened the first seal, the visions thus unleashed.

(image source)

184. locust

“Of course 1987 would be a locust summer, being the midpoint between the two winters, 1987 and 1988, that would come to represent the full de-flowering of the so-called Winter of Hate, Current 93’s David Tibet being its sort of patron saint and/or hell demon. But seriously, this stuff is sinister for damned sure, but also mysteriously beautiful and heartfelt. Just because a man is pointing into the maw of Moloch does not make him an agent of Moloch – just a messenger, filing a missive on the topic of Apocalypse (ongoing) by way of wigged out folk music by way of deep and dark industrial sturm + drang, or as a friend put it late one psychedelic evening, ‘this neo-Christian-pagan rigmarole I can’t seem to get enough of.’ The album in question is called Imperium, and yes, it goes places.” (Philip Random)

240. It’s all over now, Baby Blue

Technically, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue shouldn’t be on this list as its recording precedes the Like A Rolling Stone snare shot that allegedly gave impetus to the apocalypse in question. But such is the nature of a rupture in the space-time continuum, there’s often an implosion-like suck that throws key details of the recent past forward, mixes them up with the various smithereens currently floating around. Thus, we find yonder orphan with his gun crying like a fire in the sun. It makes perfect sense if you’ve got the right kind of eyes, and ears. Also worth noting: It’s All Over Now Baby Blue is the solo acoustic piece that young Bob Dylan chose to calm the crowd after his legendary electric set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival went so horribly wrong/right. No serious apology intended.

BobDylan-1965-smoking

 

299. nuclear war

“There’s no point in trying to do justice to the universe expanding alien immensity that is the Sun Ra story with a few words. So I won’t bother trying. Just urge you to look into it, please, explore at least some of those extra-stellar regions. As for Nuclear War, I think it speaks well enough for itself. We’re f***ed if we allow for even its possibility in our stratagems. True in 1945, true in 1982, true forever to the ends of the time and space.” (Philip Random)

SuRA-rollingSTone

312. death of the European

“The Three Johns being three guys named John (except one of them was actually Philip) and a drum machine – their general mood being loud and, in the case of Death of the European, somewhat psychedelic. My friend James couldn’t get enough of it for a while in the mid-80s. The yuppie apocalypse, he called it, tragedy of a soulless man having the wrong kind of epiphany as he realizes he’s been feeding a malevolent beast his entire working life, every dollar earned an investment in his own death. The 80s were full of such epiphanies, but they were seldom backed by such a strong soundtrack.” (Philip Random)