“Because there had to be at least one goddamned Smiths song on this list. Because as much as I’ve generally found whatz-iz-name‘s histrionics annoying as only a perpetual seventeen year old’s whining can be annoying (and f***ing wrong), I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think he was one of the all-time heavyweights on those occasions when he did get it right … even with all that criminally vulgar shyness.
And the band’s not half-bad either as How Soon Is Now aptly proves from initial gush of flanged Johnny Marr guitar onward. Trust that it sounded like nothing else in 1984, like a lost acid fragment from 1967 had finally completed its tour of the universe and somehow returned to ground in the grim and baleful north of Maggie Thatcher’s Britain, like a gem of ancient beauty and power. And for those who may already have heard How Soon Is Now, cool, I say. There’s still not enough of us.” (Philip Random)
In which the Pretty Things take us back to the dawn of this so-called pop apocalypse. It’s 1965 and whatever’s going down in London, whatever mix of drugs, fashion, overall youth discontent — it’s good, it’s swinging, it’s f***ing immortal … for two minutes anyway in the case of Buzz The Jerk.
“In which Aztec Camera take the much loved Van Halen hit that I always loathed and render it first palatable by straining out all the annoying rec-room gymnastics, working a smooth soft rock groove, but then, just as things would normally fade out, everything erupts, tears a hole in stratosphere, leaves all memory of the Van Halen original flopping miserably around in a pile of spilled cocaine and brown M+Ms.” (Philip Random)
Known as the English Beat in the Americas, the British Beat in the Australia, The Beat were a big part of the groovy side of the so-called post-punk/new wave era, certainly at home in Britain, with the dub mix of Mirror in the Bathroom a nifty little number that was effective on the dance floor, in the background at parties, in the car whilst negotiating traffic. Which has always been the special appeal of dub to me – music which is mostly absent words, yet moving in a particular direction anyway. Something to do with sound-tracking the ongoing corrosion of the so-called Western World. And it’s fun.
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.”
The Boo Radleys didn’t get much notice at the time (certainly not over here in the Americas, and what notice they did get tended to be for the wrongstuff), but if you were in the right place in 1991-92-93, tuned to the right frequencies, you were lucky enough to know a godlike, noisy and powerful pop that could cause actual changes in the weather. Maybe if they’d bothered to put something as gobsmackingly ascendant as At The Sound of Speed on an actual album as opposed to burying it on the b-side of an EP, things might have played out a little differently.
Nifty jam from April Wine, one of those Canadian rock outfits that didn’t get heard much around the world, but got piles of national radio airplay through the 1970s, only some of it bureaucratically mandated. But they never played We Can Be More Than We Are. You had to actually had to own the Canadian pressing of the album for that one (or find a copy of the Gimmie Love 7-inch and flip it to the b-side). Cool groove, hot licks and then a phone call, some stoner on the line, looking for an easy break into the record biz, but all he gets is some free advice. “You can be more than you are.”
The Clash telling it like it was in 1979 (and now for that matter). Got a problem with the weight of the world? You’re just not thinking, grooving, acting fast enough. In fact, they were so prolific (and good) at the time that they dropped Groovy Times as a b-side. First band since the Beatles to be thathot. And probably the last.