67. ambulance blues

“Given my age at the time (barely fifteen), Neil Young’s On The Beach is definitely one of my earliest (and oddest) album length crushes. And being cool had nothing to do with it. It was just one of those difficult teen summers, stuck visiting relatives, no friends within three thousand miles, too old for little kids stuff, too young to care about adult bullshit. And yet for some reason, there was this Neil Young album kicking around my uncle’s place. I think he won it in a raffle, probably listened to the whole thing once, if at all. And to be honest, that’s probably all I would’ve given it if there’d been any other options. But there weren’t, so I dove in, with side two, the mellow side, the rich and deeply somber, dark and melancholic side, being the one that truly grabbed me over time. Though grab’s the wrong word. More of an embrace, albeit a cool one. Particularly Ambulance Blues, which really felt like the album cover: a California beach on a grey and disappointing day, patio furniture spread around, and the tail fin of a buried car, with Mr. Young way out at the water’s edge looking like he might be about to jump in, never come back. You’re all just pissing in the wind.” (Philip Random)

748. danger bird

It’s 1975 and if you’re Neil Young, you’re hanging out in sunny California, feeling a decade older than you were three years ago, but at least the drugs are good, and sometimes the smog ain’t so bad, particularly when Crazy Horse drops by. Just plug in and play so loud it actually cuts through the haze, and mystical birds of great danger are seen soaring high, fierce and beautiful.

NeilYoung-1975

758. raunchy

“According to my friend Jason who knows everything, the Ventures lack credibility because they were never a proper surf band. They just ripped off the surf sound and, being top notch musicians with access to top notch studios, their stuff often killed the originals in recorded form. Jason, all I can say is, purity is boring, particularly when applied to something as impure, mongrel, fuzz and raunch infested as surf infused rock ‘n’ roll. And anyway, Raunchy shouldn’t even be on the list as it was released in 1964, a year before the cut-off, which I only just figured out, so whatever, call this whole initiative impure, mongrel, raunch infested. Or maybe surf music is capable of transcending the laws of space and time, even if it’s impure.” (Philip Random)

763. we’ve got a bigger problem now

“I cannot tell a lie. The first time I heard the name Dead Kennedys, it kind of took my breath away. I didn’t say anything out loud or anything, but I liked the Kennedys, was old enough to remember the assassinations of both JFK and RFK. And now here was this punk band exploiting them. Not that I really even listened to the music. It was just trash and exploitation, right? With a name like that! It took 1981’s In God We Trust EP to finally set me straight, particularly We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now (which I later discovered was a reworking of California Uber Alles from their first album). It was the lounge bit at the beginning that hooked me, the part about happy hour being enforced by law, and a jar of Hitler’s brain juice in the back, and Emperor Ronald Reagan born again with fascist cravings. Welcome to the future. Ready or not.” (Philip Random)

DeadKennedys-1981