“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)
“I’m pretty sure Ray Charles was considered to be past his prime by 1975. And indeed the rest of this album, Renaissance, tends toward ballads of an over-produced nature, but damn if he doesn’t take Stevie Wonder’s Living For The City to church here. Which isn’t to say it’s superior to the original, just so righteously pumped up that angels can still be heard wailing. But are they laughing or crying?” (Philip Random)
“In which Aztec Camera take the much loved Van Halen hit that I always loathed and render it first palatable by straining out all the annoying rec-room gymnastics, working a smooth soft rock groove, but then, just as things would normally fade out, everything erupts, tears a hole in stratosphere, leaves all memory of the Van Halen original flopping miserably around in a pile of spilled cocaine and brown M+Ms.” (Philip Random)
In their early days, Pop Will Eat Itself presented as dumbshit grebos, getting wasted, kerranging away in the garage with guitars and beatbox. And yet, their future genius was already hiding in plain in the guise of a cover of an obscure Shriekback groover turned sideways and rocked up into two-and-a-half minutes of full-on psychedelic revelation. Because it is true, everything that rises does converge … if you’re high enough.
“I realize it’s not cool to prefer REM’s cover of Strange to Wire’s original, but who even heard Wire’s first three albums when they were new? Not anyone I was hanging with. So to me, REM’s more jangly, more rocking, more fun take is the original. And given that it comes from 1987’s Document, that means they’re at their pre-mega-mainstream peak. Still suitably artful and obscure, but beginning to enunciate.” (Philip Random)
In which Emmylou Harris, who never found a song she couldn’t somehow make her own, takes one of the very few sweet, poignant, utterly beautiful Beatles songs that we’re not all allergic to and, if anything, improves it. “If I ever actually get married, I can imagine it will be prominent in the day’s proceedings.” (Philip Random)