“The highest Frank Zappa and/or Mothers of Invention track on the list comes from their second album, the appropriately titled Absolutely Free, for absolutely free and mad and hilarious it is in its twists and turns and … punchlines. Because it’s late spring 1967, and all the pop world is getting its mind blown by The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – the album that would change everything forever. Except Frank Zappa and The Mothers had already been there done that with 1966’s Freak Out, and Absolutely Free (released the same day as Pepper’s) was even tighter, wilder, more passionately, incisively on the mark.
Forty plus non-stop minutes of full-on everything, by which I mean jazz, doo-wop, rock and roll, pop, avant-noise, fun. Which, if you’ve only got seven and half minutes to spare, can pretty much all be found in Brown Shoes Don’t Make It – rude and crude and musically sharp as a diamond. Uncle Frank (both with and without his Mothers) would, of course, go on to release more music than some entire nations over the next twenty plus years, but for my money, he’d never top the fierce and funny fabulousness of what happened here.” (Philip Random)
“It’s All Too Much rates high indeed among comparatively underexposed Beatles psychedelic eruptions (and everything else for that matter) because it’s the song that saved Pepperland, George’s full-on acid epiphany at the end of Yellow Submarine (the movie), which I first saw when I was nine (my friend Patrick’s birthday) and even then I knew. What I couldn’t tell you, but I knew it anyway. Same feeling I got from Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, the one that every nine year old knew was completely concerned with LSD, and hippies, and the kinds of things that hippies saw when they did LSD, which seemed to be rainbows and flowers and weird multi-coloured alligators and marshmallow skies and … it was a strange business being a child in the craziest part of the psychedelic 60s, mostly outside looking in, except every now and then, the in got out and on and on across the universe. Stuff like that changes you. Not that I’m complaining.” (Philip Random)
If you’re Peter Fonda and you want to impress John Lennon while tripping on LSD in a hot tub, tell him how you died once when you were a little kid. Guaranteed, you’re going to going to send the coolest Beatle someplace dark and scary, the only way out of which will be to write a stunner of a song in which A. he tells you, you’re making him feel like he’s never been born, and B. he and his band will go a long way toward perfecting the psyche-infused power pop record almost before it’s even been invented. Oh, those lovable mop-tops.
“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)
“True fact. For most of the 1980s, the Beatles pretty much always lost those Beatles vs Stones arguments (unless you were hanging out with idiots). Not that the ’80s Stones were up to anything new that was particularly necessary, just that their older stuff had the sort of teeth the times required. Though Yer Blues from the so-called White Album, also excelled in that regard — a blues as voracious as anything the Stones ever put to vinyl, or any other pale skinned band for that matter. As much a send-up of the whole idea of white guys churning out authentic black music as it was a genuine howl from the soul of a guy who really was so lonely he wanted to die, it still conjures chills and wins arguments. Because it’s true, the Stones may have been a better blues outfit but Beatles had the best actual song.” (Philip Random)
“I try not to brag about specific albums I own. But holy sh**, how cool am I to have a mint 1972 Japanese pressing of Faust‘s So Far with 12-page booklet intact! And I paid less than ten bucks for it. Which would all be pointless blather if the music itself didn’t deliver. Which it does, So Far being an album of strange and extreme moods and sidetracks (some might call it noise) with It’s A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl either a #1 pop hit in another, cooler, far weirder and better universe (where Faust really were The German Beatles) , or just a long brash walk along a certain razor’s edge – where genius actually touches stupidity, but it never falls in, even when the saxophone finally arrives past the six minute point, out of tune, of course.” (Philip Random)
Wherein young Neil Young, still just a member of Buffalo Springfield, hears the Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s and responds with an epic piece of something or other. It starts with a live snatch of one of the other songs from the album, slips sideways into various surreal reflections on this-that-other things, finishes up with some honky-tonk piano that just sort of fades away into a heartbeat. It’s all definitely about something, which in 1967 was all you really needed.
“Speaking of Performance (the movie), it features prominently in Big Audio Dynamite‘s sample rich E=mc2, along with other bits and pieces from various films directed by Nicholas Roeg. And what a cool track it was (and still is), promising so much from Mick Jones in the wake of the Clash‘s rather ridiculous crash and burn, except they never really got any better, which can only mean they got worse. Not that Big Audio Dynamite were ever really bad (even if they were definitely B.A.D.) – just lacking Joe Strummer‘s overall sandpaper edge, I guess. Rather like Paul McCartney operating without John Lennon post-Beatles. At least B.A.D. never did a Christmas song.” (Philip Random)
Yeah, you’ve probably heard No Time a million times already on oldies radio, The Guess Who (Canada’s own Beatles) rocking it hard, melody as big as a Manitoba sky, getting it all just right. But you probably haven’t heard the longer, rawer, more psychedelized original version that showed up on 1969’s Canned Wheat. Like the band just didn’t realize what they had, how truly world class they were, being just a bunch of wannabes from the middle of nowhere. And thus, they were at their peak.