76. Ohio

“The album was released in 1972 under Neil Young’s moniker (soundtrack to a movie almost nobody saw, and probably for good reason), but this Crosby Stills Nash + Young live recording of Ohio dates to June 1970, barely a month after the events in question – the murder by National Guard marksmen of four students on the campus of Kent State University, Ohio. So what you’re hearing is a band that’s very much in the line of fire, the smoke hasn’t even cleared, they’re playing for their lives, ferociously. Because Richard Nixon has given the executive order. F*** the long hairs and their protests, send in the tin soldiers and shoot ’em all down.” (Philip Random)

255. King Midas in Reverse

In which The Hollies get more serious than usual with an almost-hit about a man who, everything golden thing he touches, he destroys, which rather confuses the original myth about the king with the golden touch who ended up starving to death, because who can digest golden bread, or stew, or porridge for that matter? But it’s still a hell of a strong song. Welcome to psychedelic England, 1967, where there was at least as much confusion as colour in the magical breeze. As it was, Graham Nash (who wrote King Midas) would soon be splitting from the band, taking off to America and all manner of future glory as a serious rock artist, while the rest stayed home and mostly stayed pop, with a few golden moments to come, but nothing like what they’d once known.

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415. carry on

“The original version of Crosby Stills Nash + Young‘s Carry On is entirely okay. It makes its point. The revolution may have peaked but, man, we’re still on the edge of something beautiful, man, so just carry on, man, to peace love and understanding, man. Live however, captured on 1971’s 4 Way Street, you actually believe it. Love is coming for us all. War shall be forever banned. Richard Nixon will not be re-elected in a year’s time by the single biggest landslide in history, America will not keep mucking around in Vietnam for four more bloody years. It’s the jamming, of course. Neil Young and Steve Stills facing off (with rhythm section Fuzzy Samuels and Johnny Barbata in strong support) riding the wave to heaven’s gate itself, leaving the original song far behind for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile in a hotel in Las Vegas, Hunter Thompson is glimpsing through ancient eyes what he’d come to call the high water mark. These things are not unconnected.” (Philip Random)

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458. long dark road

The Hollies were supposed to be finished by the time the 1970s hit having lost Graham Nash to Crosby and Stills (and sometimes Young) and their almost Beatles levels of international success. But it turns out, the pop outfit from Manchester still had a few rather brilliant tricks left, including Long Dark Road‘s rather grim gaze into the shadows. Released as a single, it didn’t go anywhere, though room was found on The Hollies Greatest Hits, which is where Philip Random found it. “One of those hits compilations that absolutely delivers. Not a wasted second.”.

(photo: Brian Pieper)

564. déjà vu

“It’s 1970, there’s a new decade on the world, and with the Beatles officially broken up, there’s no more important band on the planet than Crosby Stills Nash + Young. At least that’s what Rog thought (boyfriend of my best friend’s big sister), who actually read Rolling Stone magazine and stuff like that. Their album of the moment was Déjà Vu and I guess eleven year old me liked some of it (the hits mostly). But the title track eluded me. Too smooth, I guess, and complicated. But jump ahead a few years, maybe halfway through high school, and it finally got me – so much happening in terms of shades and harmonies and changes, the music itself like a restless, living creature. Marijuana was involved.” (Philip Random)

778. frozen smiles

The truly astonishing thing is just how many albums Crosby Stills Nash (and sometimes Young) released between 1969 and the end of the 1970s. And bland and self-indulgent and cocaine beleaguered and ultimately forgettable as way too many of them were (particularly when Neil Young was nowhere to be seen), there was usually at least one nugget where the harmonies would hook up, the melody would soar, you couldn’t help but smile. In the case of 1972’s imaginatively titled Graham Nash and David Crosby, that would’ve been Frozen Smiles.

crosbyNash-1972

 

The 12 MixTapes of Christmas

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The Twelve Mixtapes of Christmas have got nothing to do with Christmas (beyond being a gift to you) and they’re not actually mix tapes, or CDs for that matter – just mixes, each 49-minutes long, one posted to Randophonic’s Mixcloud for each day of Twelvetide (aka the Twelve Days of Christmas).

The mixes are in fact remnants of an unfinished project from a few years back that had something to do with compiling a playlist for an alternative to Alternative Rock (or whatever) radio station. To be honest, we’re not one hundred percent clear about any of it because somebody spilled (what we hope is) red wine on the official transcript, thus rendering key parts illegible.

Bottom line: it’s five hundred eighty-eight minutes of music covering all manner of ground, from David Bowie to Bow Wow Wow to Tuxedomoon to Claudine Longet, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Captain Beefheart, Aphrodite’s Child, Tom Jones, Marilyn Manson, Ike + Tina Turner, anything and everything, as long as it’s good.