Tombstone Blues being found immediately after Like a Rolling Stone on Bob Dylan’s sixth album, Highway 61 Revisited, the one that changed everything forever. Philip Random remains in awe of the mad precision of its poetry. “Lately it’s been the geometry of innocent flesh on the bone causing Galileo’s math book to get thrown. But maybe six months ago, it was the king of the Philistines, his soldiers putting jawbones on their tombstones and flattering their graves. Back in the early 1980s, it was definitely John the Baptist (after torturing a thief) looking up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief, saying, tell me great hero, but please make it brief, is there a hole for me to get sick in? In other words, yeah it’s all just Dada, but it’s a fine and enduring Dada, still very much alive, mercurial even. Particularly if you’re driving long distances, gobbling dexedrine, smoothing the edges with cheap red wine, you hit the Pacific coast at sunset, northern California somewhere, take some pictures but for some reason all you’ve got is black + white film. So the moment is captured without pigment, the sky pure white, like an atomic bomb. Which is more or less accurate, I think. If the world didn’t end in 1965 when Dylan released Highway 61, then it was June 1989, and I have pictures to prove it.”
“Pere Ubu were one of those bands I started hearing about in 1977-78 as punk and whatever finally started reaching the suburbs (the underside of them anyway). And then I actually heard them and yup, they were intense, noisy, hard to ignore but also hard to love. Though 30 Seconds Over Tokyo would eventually turn me. Because it’s just so damned good. It was the title first, reminding me of the movie, a World War 2 thing, American heroes bombing Tokyo, a suicide run, just like the record says. Except the record’s way better, and recorded way before punk actually, in 1975. Cleveland, Ohio of all places. No, let me rephrase that. Cleveland, Ohio obviously. Something had to all start in Cleveland, whatever it is that got started, that’s still going on, that mad suicide mission to drop bombs, take the war to all the normals, figuratively, of course.” (Philip Random)
First of all, the Cabaret Voltaire that mattered most was the one that operated in Zurich for maybe six months in 1916, out of which came the movement known as Dada which, it’s entirely conceivable, saved the world, perhaps the entire universe. It’s true. The other Cabaret Voltaire (straight outa Sheffield), wasn’t exactly trivial either. Starting in 1973, they shamelessly put noise to tape and called it music. Come the 1980s, they were evolving somewhat, taking on the clubs with the likes of Yashar, which did a solid job of both making people move, and informing those people that there were magnitudes more of them on earth than anybody was letting on.
In which Brian Eno kicks out some almost punk intensity dada circa 1974, at least two years before such aggressive tendencies would even begin to stick, culturally speaking. Though the surrealism of the lyrics suggests other more complex forces at work than mere punk anyway. Also, the yodeling.
“A nifty little almost pop song from the group known as Can about who knows what? Including the singer, I’m pretty sure, Damo Suzuki from Japan, hanging out in Germany, trying to work in English, ending up inventing his own dadaesque language. A song about whatever you want it to be about, I guess, although I’ll go with my friend Thomas’s interpretation. It’s about that dissipated feeling you get when you’ve wasted all your precious vril energy on rich, yet pointless pleasures. But the music’s there to revive you, like the potion it is, alchemical and true.” (Philip Random)
From an album where everything else is lyrically (and musically) full-on Dada to the point of absolute confusion, Captain Beefheart leaves not even a trace of ambiguity as to what this one‘s about, those Final Solution Blues being the heaviest ever known.
“Here Come the Warms Jets, Brian Eno’s 1974 solo debut, didn’t find me until early 1981, but the timing was nevertheless perfect, as I was gobbling lots of psychedelics at the time, imposing apocalypse on everything I’d ever accepted or believed, opening great holes in my brain and soul that only purposefully deranged dada-POP such as Dead Finks Don’t Talk could adequately fill.” (Philip Random)