337. albatross

The melody’s nice here but it’s more the overall smooth, mournful mood that sets Albatross free. But, of course, the early Fleetwood Mac being a blues band, it’s not really that kind of Albatross, is it? It’s the kind that you carry as a curse, hung around your neck, weighing you down, reminding you and all the world that you blew it, you killed a beautiful thing for no damned reason. Which is sort of what happened to Peter Green, the man who wrote it, his career pretty much over within the year, psychedelic drugs and mental illness finding each other in yet another implosion of tortured genius.

FleetwoodMac-1969-live

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350. “international never never zen”

“This first showed up in my life on a homemade cassette somebody gave me subtitled International Never Never Zen, because to write down all the twelve tracks jammed into side one of Todd Rundgren‘s A Wizard, A True Star would be to induce writer’s cramp, I guess. And it all flows together as one anyway, or certainly tries to. Because this stuff is nothing if not mad (as opposed to insane), overblown and over-reaching in the best possible way, jamming tape experiments up against instrumental freakouts, recurring themes, a cover of a Peter Pan song (from the Broadway play) and at least one proper standalone epic (concerning a Zen Archer) … and overall, just wow. Not perfect at all, but what do you expect from a guy who had recently given up on his straight edge lifestyle to more or less embrace everything from cannabis to DMT, magic mushrooms, peyote, even Ritalin … all toward abstracting his creative process in such a way that the music ultimately flowed out of him like a painting, spilling directly from his brain and/or soul onto the metaphorical canvas of our ears. Or something like that.” (PR)

ToddRundgren-Wizard-edit

351. space is deep

“I missed Hawkwind completely in the 1970s which is when they were truly happening. In fact, I never even heard of them until well into the 1980s, and then it was mostly dismissive stuff from various critics: spaced out slop for morons who were too stoned for Rush, or words to that effect. The critics were wrong, of course. What Hawkwind had going, at least in those early days, was a nigh on transcendent application of science-fiction concepts to psychedelic methods. Seriously. Put on the headphones and crank this stuff up. It will take you places beyond the known universe and you won’t even need drugs. Because the musicians have done them for you. Lots of them. With 1972 a sort of ground zero in that regard. Doremi Fasol Latido was the fresh album of the moment, but the real magic was happening live via the Space Ritual and points well beyond within.” (Philip Random)

Hawkwind-1973-live

 

358. higher than the sun

In which Primal Scream discover drugs, forget who they used to be, set their controls for the heart of the sun and somehow go further. Or as Philip Random noted at the time, “There were two suns that day, everything split, refracted. There was acid in the mix, and serious altitude, and an ocean. And some sort of abyss that at least one of our retinue seemed to be at the point of falling into forever and in fact they did for at least a while, yet such is the nature of genuinely amplified psychedelic confusion, this wasn’t really discussed at the time, we were more concerned with oceans and shores and solid ground, how the higher goal seems to be both being out there committed to the waves and the currents of eternity but also firmly rooted in some sort of metaphysical ground. It didn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. Unless there are in fact two suns, two worlds, two solar systems, maybe billions. And so on. This went on forever but it was all over by the end of the song in question, which was Primal Scream’s Higher than the Sun, a sort of extended version of the extended version pumping away on the ghetto blaster that we’d dragged with us to this edge, this ledge, this forehead of the world.  And then we all went home, ate solid food and drank red wine, yet nothing would ever be the same. Maybe this all happened. Maybe it didn’t. But I do remember it.” Found on 1991’s Screamadelica which needs to be heard by everyone eventually.

PrimalScream-1992-live

424. whiskey in the jar

“I saw Thin Lizzy more than once back in the day, theoretically at their peak. But maybe it was the drugs, because they never really hit. Solid hard rock for sure, but nothing transcendent, nothing that made you want to go back to Church or whatever. Nothing like what they delivered on Whiskey in the Jar, one of their very first singles (which I’d only hear many years later), the old Irish folk song given full soul and throttle, so it ends up feeling as rich, as tragic as time itself. Because it’s not the whiskey that does you in. It’s the woman that drove you to it. Or the man.” (Philip Random)

ThinLizzy-1972-live

482. big city

“The 12-inch single version of Big City is the one for me, Spacemen 3 locking things into extended and ethereal trance mode for many long and hypnotic minutes. A driving song, I figure, ideal for being alone in a great big city. Nothing to do but cruise your solitude, bright lights, lots of shadow.” (Philip Random)

Spacemen3-1991-promo

557. box of rain

“The Grateful Dead at their most American and beautiful. It says so on the album cover (if you look closely). It’s 1970 and the drugs aren’t so much wearing off in the land of the Dead as imposing a desire for something a little more grounded, relevant to the reality of things like gravity, the ground itself, the stuff we’re standing on (unless there’s concrete in the way). Anyway, Box Of Rain is just a beautiful song. Even my mom likes it. Don’t know what it’s about and I don’t really care. The sun is shining and the dark star has crashed. What more do you need?” (Philip Random)

GratefulDEAD-AmericanBeauty

578. who are the brain police?

It’s 1966 and it seems only Frank Zappa and his Mothers realize just how freaky and weird things are about to get, and Frank never even did drugs (beyond cigarettes and coffee). Nevertheless he could see them — the Brain Police. Or more to the point, he felt them, because you can’t see the brain police, can you? They’re within you, hiding behind your devices of oracular perception. Recording things. Seriously, they are there, implanted at birth.

Zappa-Mothers-1966

579. when tomorrow hits

By the time When Tomorrow Hits hit, Spacemen 3 had already broken up for all the regular reasons that drug addled, pioneering psychedelic outfits break up, and then some. A cover of a Mudhoney original, it was supposed to be part of a double-A split single which would also feature Mudhoney’s version of Spacemen 3’s Revolution, but for whatever hazy reason, that didn’t happen. What does happen is Spacemen 3’s equal parts smoother and sharper take on When Tomorrow Hits, particularly that part toward the end, when it hits!

Spacemen3-1991