29. O Superman

O Superman is one of those rare records that truly stopped time. Because pretty much everybody I knew at the time (1981-82) – the first time they heard it, they literally stopped. A what is this? moment. Quickly followed by Who is this? To which the answer was simple enough — just some girl named Laurie from New York, spiky hair, artist/poet type playing her electrified fiddle, messing with tape loops and stuff, speaking (almost singing) strange and angular truths. Nothing that many haven’t attempted since but unlike anything anyone had heard before. And she nailed it — whatever it was. And that part near the beginning, the bit about ‘Hello, I’m not home right now’ —  pretty much everyone had that as their answering machine message for at least a few days as O Superman swept coolly, smoothly, strangely through the world, like a virus from outer space. Yet I doubt it ever got a single play on local commercial radio. Neither the song nor the album, Big Science, which took everything further, weirder, bigger. It’s almost as if the people running things didn’t have a f***ing clue of what was going on.” (Philip Random)

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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577. let x = x [it tango]

“In which Laurie Anderson reminds us that sometimes you’ve just gotta go with your intuition. If you see a guy and he looks like a hat check clerk, he is a hat check clerk. And everything that suggests. To which I must add, I have no idea what that is. And I doubt Laurie Anderson did either, early 1980s, just rolling with the zeitgeist which she was in the process of turning inside out with her strange gear and her stranger stories. And the pinks of the world are still trying to make sense of it. Stop making sense.” (Philip Random)

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899. from the air

Nothing sounded stranger, cooler, more fiercely new in 1982 than Big Science, Laurie Anderson’s debut album. But strip away the art-scene façade and, “She’s just a nice young lady playing her fiddle and telling stories. What’s so odd about that?” (to quote a Texan club owner from back in the day). From The Air would’ve been the one about the plane crash where the pilot thought he’d have some wordplay fun on the way down.

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