336. big science

“It’s 1982 and Laurie Anderson, who no one I know has ever heard of, has suddenly painted a picture of the future, equal parts strange and beautiful, yet already haunted. The whole album‘s a gem but the title track deserves special mention for the way it delivers this future — all shopping malls, drive-in banks and every man for himself. And yodeling, hallelujah to that, and to the big science that makes it all possible — those cooling towers off the edge of town, higher than any church steeple ever towered, hissing and droning, liable to melt down and explode at any second.” (Philip Random)

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612. groon

 

Second of two in a row from the same King Crimson 7-inch single, though Philip Random first heard both Groon and Cat Food via the 1976 compilation Young Persons Guide to King Crimson. “I still get a chuckle at the thought of a track like Groon being allowed anywhere near a record with pop ambitions. Not that it actually charted or anything. Just the idea of it. And the execution. King Crimson being not just one of the brainiest outfits ever (care of main man Robert Fripp), but also one of the best in terms of pure chops and articulation, regardless of who was in the line-up at the time. Subsequent live versions of Groon would prove to be longer, deeper excursions, but I’ve always preferred the original’s tighter, sharper, more compact assault.”

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747. the great pretender

“It says 1974 on the cover but Brian Eno‘s second solo album Taking Tiger Mountain (by strategy) will always be pure 1981 for me. Weird and oft times jagged pop was pretty much perfectly in synch with the times and thus not at all afraid to just dissolve into abstraction if necessary. Which was fine by me given all the acid I was taking. I needed those dissolutions, like at the end of The Great Pretender when the crickets (or whatever they are) just take over, suck us into the insect realm, alien and strange.” (Philip Random)

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872. bird town

With Pere Ubu on hiatus for a while in the 1980s, main man David Thomas had plenty of room to move. And move he did through all manner of possibilities with 1983’s Variations on a Theme featuring a genuinely strong backing band, including the likes of trad-folkie Richard Thompson whose superb guitar stylings were exactly what was required for this strange and easy little ditty about a town where folks wander around with ducks on their heads.

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