“Call Transmission the song that finally got me around to loving Joy Division. Because at first, they mostly annoyed me. Not because of the music. Nah, it was the death cult, the ‘Ian died for our sins’ crowd. Which is overstating it, I don’t recall anyone actually saying that. But it sure felt like it at times. ‘You must take this song very, very seriously because the man who wrote and sang it killed himself – how serious is that?’ To which I’d counter, so what you’re saying is Joy Division are half a serious as Badfinger because two of those guys killed themselves. Which I’ll now apologize for. That’s asshole logic. Which isn’t to diminish Badfinger at all. Badfinger were a great f***ing band. But they were no Joy Division. They didn’t change everything forever.
Joy Division being one of those ground zero outfits, I think, there being a universe that existed before them with its own unique rules and peculiarities, and then they showed up and those rules and peculiarities changed. Forever. And no, it wasn’t the suicide. It got a lot of folks’ attention, for sure, but if there hadn’t been something uniquely sharp and fresh and yeah, deadly serious, in the actual music, well, we’d be talking about some other band. And anyway, despite appearances, I like to think there is at least a little actual joy to be found in the Joy Division discography. Maybe in Transmission, a love song that doesn’t tear anyone apart, because the focus isn’t on some other — just the right song at the right moment on the right radio station, and what it can do for a lonely human soul. It can set that soul to dancing. And when you’re dancing, you are not alone … even if you’re the only one in the room. Of course, I’ve heard the exact opposite argued – that Transmission is a condemnation of radio, of all the crap that people will listen to in order get their minds off all the troubles of the world. Guess we’ll just have to keep arguing, because the guy who wrote it checked out long ago.” (Philip Random)
“I had heard of Joy Division before the big deal suicide – I just hadn’t heard any of the music (sound traveling much slower before the internet). And meanwhile, I was dealing with a close personal suicide of my own, ex-friend James. So I was abundantly clear on one thing: suicide wasn’t cool, wasn’t romantic, wasn’t meaningful, wasn’t anything but a dire, miserable fact. So when word came down that the lead singer of this cool new band had offed himself, I just wasn’t interested, particularly as a sort of cult grew around him. ‘Badfinger had two suicides, so they’re twice as cool,’ I was guilty of saying. And guilt’s the word, because I was wrong. Not about the romanticizing of suicide, but about shrugging off the fierce grace of Joy Division‘s music. Nothing could negate that. Ever.” (Philip Random)
The Final Countdown* is Randophonic’s longest and, if we’re doing it right, most relevant countdown yet – the end of result of a rather convoluted process that’s still evolving such is the existential nature of the project question: the 1297 Greatest Records of All Time right now right here. Whatever that means. What it means is dozens of radio programs if all goes to plan, and when has that ever happened?
Installment #17 of The Final Countdown* went like this.
971. Frank Zappa – peaches in regalia
970. Cake – you turn the screws
969. Talking Heads – houses in motion
968. XTC – snowman
967. Badfinger – perfection
966. Police – voices inside my head
965. K-os – crabbuckit
964. Neil Young – human highway
963. Mary Clayton – Southern Man
962. J-Live – Satisfied
961. Primal Scream – stuka [ju-87]
960. Critical Point & Vikter Duplaix – messages
959. Lee Perry + Dub Syndicate – blinkers
958. Jun Togawa[戸川純] – Because the Night
957. Twilight Singers – Verti-Mart
956. Camel – song within a song
955. Klaatu – across the universe in eighty days
954. Autechre – Autriche
953. George Harrison – deep blue
Randophonic airs pretty much every Saturday night, starting 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and/or download options usually available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook page.
“The Badfinger story didn’t end well. But let’s not hang on that. Let’s focus instead on how glad I am that they existed, how superb so much of their music was. And for many, that started with Carry On Till Tomorrow (epic and sad and the definition of Beatlesque) running through the opening credits of The Magic Christian – the one where Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr join forces to prove (over and over) that everyone has their price.” (Philip Random)
“I’m twelve years old. It’s 1972 and there’s this band I keep hearing on the radio who can’t be the Beatles, because the Beatles broke up two years ago, but they sure sound like the Beatles. Bad-something. And then my friend Chris buys their latest single. It’s called Baby Blue, and it’s official. This band is called Badfinger. Maybe three years later, I’m finally buying albums on a regular basis, and one that I’m always looking for is Badfinger’s Straight Up (the one with Baby Blue on it). ‘Good luck finding that,’ says a record store guy one day. ‘It’s impossible to find ever since Apple went under.’ Which was not entirely accurate. I found Straight Up a few times over the years, used and stupidly expensive. Then finally, early-90s sometime, there it was at a flea market, cover a bit hacked but the vinyl itself looked okay. The weird thing is, the song that immediately grabbed then thirty-something me wasn’t Baby Blue, but Perfection. Solid sort of mid-tempo rock, with lyrics on the topic of there being no real perfection, but love and truth regardless. A stoic’s tune, I guess, and all too sad given the tragedies that would tear Badfinger to pieces. All the more reason to keep playing the records.” (Philip Random)
“Badfinger were supposed to be the next Beatles. Hell, some people thought they were the Beatles, signed as they were to Apple Records and showing a penchant for strong melodies and harmonies, and no fear of rocking out if required. In which case, Name of the Game would have been one of Paul McCartney’s songs, sad, beautiful, perhaps even meaningful. Maybe too meaningful in Badfinger’s case, as Pete Ham, the guy who wrote it, killed himself four years after its release (age twenty-seven) due, it seems, to deep despondence at the trajectory of the band’s career. Eight years later, fellow band member Tom Evans would do the same.” (Philip Random)
Part Two of Randophonic’s three part celebration of the 40th anniversary of 1974 aired December 6th, on CiTR.FM.101.9.
Here it is in two Mixcloud streams.
And the Movie of the Week — Queen – Modern Times Rock + Roll
The podcast of the full program is available for download here …
Think of it as an at least halfway cool radio program from forty years ago playing not the popular stuff from the year, but the important stuff — the true wild and innocent sounds that kept the flesheating robots at bay for another three hundred days or so. Brian Eno gets a lot of play because he released his first two solo albums in 1974 (and they, of course, changed everything forever). Otherwise, it’s a whole lotta everything, legendary and cool.
Brian Eno – needles in the camel’s eye
It hits you like a wall of solid pop. Powerful and beautiful.
Roxy Music – all I want is you
A smart, sophisticated rocker from the band Eno had just left. Which raises the question. What would have happened if he’d stayed? What wouldn’t have happened? Would Richard Nixon even have had to resign?
Stevie Wonder – you haven’t done nothin’
In which even the blind man can see the bullshit. 74 was that kind of year.
The Undead – somebody super like you
From Phantom of the Paradise, definitely the best Faustian glam rock movie ever.
Sweet – ballroom blitz
In which the bubble-glam wunderkids hold nothing back, tear the whole room apart.
Sparks – talent is an asset
LA wasn’t glam enough so they moved to London and never really looked back. This one’s about Albert Einstein’s relatives.
Jade Warrior – monkey chant
Take an ancient Balinese monkey chant, lay down some psyche guitar. Disturb all the hippies.
Hot Chocolate – Emma
Emma has big dreams. She wants to be up on the silver screen. Spoiler alert: she kills herself in the end.
Where was David Bowie in 1974? A decade ahead of things in the year of the Diamond Dogs. Big Brother is supreme. Everybody loves him. And why shouldn’t they? Even monsters can be beautiful.
Brian Eno – seven deadly Finns
A single that didn’t really chart anywhere yet went a long way toward inventing the future sounds of punk, new wave etc. And it has yodeling.
Brian Eno – Third Uncle
It starts as a direct rip-off of Pink Floyd’s One of These Days. By the time it’s over, it’s found an entirely other galaxy
Badfinger – just a chance
From their last album before the suicides started — the one that’s jammed with solid pop rock gems, but for whatever reason, got yanked from all the stores almost immediately after its release.
Strawbs – hero and heroine
Title track from another one of those shoulda-woulda-coulda-but-didn’t albums. Maybe Dave Cousins voice was just too weird, because you can’t blame all those mellotrons and angels amped way high in the mix.
Wings – nineteen hundred and eighty-five
The groove’s a killer. The production is pure drama. The lyrics don’t seem to be about anything. Where’s John Lennon when you need him?
Can – chain reaction
They’d just lost Damo Suzuki to the ozone or wherever. But they didn’t seem to mind, just kept working the infinite groove, pretty much inventing techno trance more than a decade ahead of schedule without realizing it.
Brian Eno – on some faraway beach
Lead off track from his first solo album — promising so much and, of course, he would deliver so much more.
Neil Young – ambulance blues
Neil is stuck on some dreary wintertime beach waiting for the paramedics to come. But it’s not an emergency really. The damage is already done.
Van Morrison – you don’t pull no punches but you don’t push the river
The true heart of Celtic soul gets laid bare here, epic and wise. You gotta learn to spot the difference between a foe you can knock down and a force of nature you best just go with, bound for great oceans and who knows what treasures on distant unseen shores?
Gram Parsons – 1000 dollar wedding
About as sad as sad songs get. And then he OD’ed on heroin.
Bob Dylan – dirge
Mr. Zimmerman enters the truly good part of his 1970s, and he’s definitely in a mood.
Anne Peebles – I can’t stand the rain .
It always rains too much. Why should 1974 be any different?
QUEEN – MODERN TIMES ROCK + ROLL (the Movie of the Week)
An almost one hour mix of Queen at the very beginning of their muchness. Their first album (Queen 1) was released in 1973 but nobody heard it until 1974.
And by the end of 1974, we had two more to perplex and astonish us (Queen II + Sheer Heart Attack).
And confusing indeed it all was — a strange zone where Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys seemed to hold equal measure, and everything in between. Or as Philip Random puts it. “Strange wild changes, absurd operatics, serious raunch, nymphs and ogres, black queens, white queens, Jesus Christ himself, fathers and sons, tenement funsters, lilies of the valley, tatterdemalions and junketers. Bohemian Rhapsody was still over a year away and who needed it anyway? It was all there already. And if you were fifteen year old me, you ate it up. Because it NEVER got any better than those first three albums and their Modern Times Rock’n’Roll … for lack of a better term.”