“Second of two in a row from the Who’s 1970 eruption Live At Leeds, because in case there’s any doubt, props must go to possibly/probably the greatest single slab of live ROCK vinyl ever unleashed. With the take on Mose Allison’s Young Man Blues manifesting as a powerhouse of such magnitude that it’s hard to imagine they didn’t just invent it on the spot, torn from the gods’ own hearts. For here is a genuinely classic band captured at absolute peak relevance, no excuses offered, none required (though captured is probably the wrong word for something as wild as this). And unlike that previous selection, My Generation, which ricochets and rambles its young man’s confusion for better of a quarter-hour, Young Man Blues focuses the superlative noise to just five-minutes-fifty-two seconds of glory that’s as relevant now as it’s ever been, probably even more so. Because nowadays, the young men, they got sweeeeet f*** all.” (Philip Random)
“You can do a lot worse than calling The Who’s My Generation the first proper punk rock song. Because it really does have it all — teenage rage, power, angst, frustration, horniness, confusion, all erupting as a sustained declaration of … something that’s impossible to really put into words without f***ing stuttering off into guitar, bass, drums, distortion, explosions and sustained thunder from there out to the edges of the nine known universes, which is what happens in the best version, the 1970 Live At Leeds version that just keeps mutating and erupting for almost fifteen minutes, the band having grown over the years into a monstrous garage apocalypse of noise and negation that was nevertheless playing the biggest festivals, topping the highest charts, like the answer to the question: what happens if you cross a Mod with a supernova?
Such that maybe eight years later, an eternally frustrating late teenage night, nothing to do, nowhere to go, just me and my friend Doug, a 26er of Tequila, his dad’s Camaro and an 8-Track of Live At Leeds. It’s snowed recently, so we take it down to an empty mall parking lot and cut loose with power slides, fishtails, spinouts. True heavy metal thunder. Although it would’ve been truer if the Camaro didn’t have an automatic transmission. Which we fried. So we ditched the car, hiked home and let his dad report it stolen the next morning. We never did get caught. Although maybe fifteen years later Doug got busted for some kind of insider trading, then split the country while out on bail. One of these days, I guess I’ll get the full story, but I doubt I’ll be any less confused.” (Philip Random)
“I guess you could say this strange age we still find ourselves in officially landed with Kraftwerk in 1981 — everyday people owning artificial brains, keeping them in their homes next to the TV maybe, playing games on them, writing with them, making music. Not that I was paying it all much attention in 1981. I was mostly confused in 1981, or more to the point I was fighting confusion, because I’m still confused. I just gave up the fight a long, long time ago. Which gets us back to Kraftwerk, Computer World. What an album! Sounded exactly like the future that we all had coming, ready or not. And I guess I was. Ready, that is. In spite of all the confusion.” (Philip Random)
(photo: Kevin Komoda)
“1978 sometime. I’m home alone watching Saturday Night Live, and BAM! Devo hits the stage with their take on the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction and … well, call it a Ballad of a Thin Man moments (ie: that Bob Dylan song where he sneers at straight old normal Mr. Jones and says, ‘Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you?’) Except I wasn’t even twenty years old yet, how the hell could I be as uncool as Mr. Jones? And anyway, I had heard Devo already and didn’t hate them, but I didn’t exactly get them either. What I was, of course, was confused, which I’d eventually realize was the whole point. Devo existed to confuse. The trick was to trust this confusion, maybe even love it, embrace it as the true and weird future for all of mankind. Or something like that. I guess I’m still confused, but man, I do love that first Devo album.” (Philip Random)
“It’s 1977 and punk rock may be erupting but Neil Young‘s gone strangely, evocatively ambient … for one song anyway, all heartfelt yearning and fireplace hisses and crackles. Will To Love being an example of a unique artist at the peak of his powers doing something the’s never really done before so well that he’ll never really have to do it again. Found on American Stars And Bars a mish-mash of an album that also includes Like A Hurricane and some pretty much straight up Country stuff, making it a more or less perfect evocation of one man’s confusion. And don’t kid yourself, everybody was confused in 1977.” (Philip Random)
“The official Black Sabbath history lesson regarding Vol.4 seems to go something like this: after three albums inventing and defining what would eventually come to be the core of heavy metal, it was time for the band to expand their sound, roll with the progressive changes of the moment, get even bigger. But for me, thirteen when Vol.4 hit, catching random pieces on late night radio, it was just this deeply heavy stuff that seemed to capture everything that was weird and wrong with the world, but also kind of cool. Wheels of Confusion indeed, crushing anything that got in their way.” (Philip Random)
In which The Byrds lay it all out for eternity, man. Because it’s 1966 and something is most definitely happening, but what!?!? (note the question and exclamation marks), What’s Happening !?!? being notable as A. David Crosby‘s first solo songwriting credit for the Byrds, and B. succinct to say the least, the whole virulent, acid drenched confusion of the times laid out in fifty-seven words or less. Not that it was a bad historical moment — more just a state of spiritual, philosophical and emotional critical mass, a sustained chain reaction of apparently conflicting beliefs, ideas, demands and feelings that was demanding an entirely fresh and conceivably radical new point of reference, man.
It’s 1969 and Malcolm John Rebennack (aka Dr. John) is deep into his Night Tripper phase with Babylon (both song and album) hitting as a strange and delirious warning of great trials and tribulations to come. Babylon being the great city-state of Ancient Mesopotamia that lasted more than two thousand years before finally dissolving into the sands of time. Babylon being the root of the word babble, that state in language acquisition, during which an infant appears to be experimenting with uttering all the weird and wonderful sounds of language, but not yet producing any recognizable words – confusion in a word, but not without a purpose.