200. Rose of Cimarron

Poco were one of those bands I used to hear a lot on the radio and didn’t like, their country infused soft rock being so inoffensive it became the opposite. But not Rose of Cimarron, which rose profoundly from the soft, sticky muck and set the god damned sky on fire the first time I gave it a proper listen. By which I mean, it’s BIG like a great western sunset, with a breeze throwing up dust at least as old as time, catching the rays of that setting sun and reminding me of why I’m glad I’m alive. Because every now and then life, the universe, God, or maybe just a soft rock band operating out of LA touches something epic and eternal and unleashes music so god damned beautiful even the hills get to weeping. And it’s even a true story. Sort of.” (Philip Random)

ROSEdunn-ofCimarron

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233. The Rainbow – Eden – Desire

“Springtime, 1989, the year I ended up in London somehow. It’s a long story, which only matters here because that’s where I found Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden. Lonely, very low on cash, wandering through the big HMV near Piccadilly and there it was on cassette, remaindered, dead cheap. What I knew of Talk Talk was that they were a better than average synth-pop outfit. What I was completely unprepared for was the deep and spacious and ultimately gobsmackingly epic first side of Spirit of Eden – three titles (The Rainbow, Eden + Desire) but all one seamless song to my ears, and exactly what I needed to set my soul free and get my thinking straight toward sorting out the problem of the rest of my life. I left town the next day.” (Philip Random)

TalkTalk-1988

 

239-8-7. tenement funster – flick of the wrist – lily of the valley

“Three tracks from Sheer Heart Attack, Queen’s third album, that all flow seamlessly together, so it’s tempting to think of them as all just one epic piece. But  take a look at the lyrics (and the overall shifts in tone) and it’s clear there are three distinctly different things going on here. Tenement Funster‘s a raw piece of ‘kitchen sink’ glam. Call it drama. Flick of the Wrist is like a flick of a TV channel to something suddenly quite bitchy with operatic moments and not just a little malevolence. Call it melodrama. And Lily of the Valley‘s just a lovely bit of epic love. Call it romance. Thus we are reminded of how Queen always had more ideas and angles going than any nine other bands, and the chops to do everything full justice. When this stuff landed in the various teenage rec-rooms of suburbia circa 1974/75, let’s just say a great hunger was sated – one we weren’t even fully aware we had. Something to do with a need for passion and fun delivered with a fierce raunch that was only slightly under control.” (Philip Random)

Queen-1974-promo

313. pink turns to blue

This is Husker Du as they broke through, defining that zeitgeist moment when punk finally embraced the psychedelic, became eternal. But Pink Turns To Blue is also Husker Du hinting at their inevitable demise. Or more to the point, Grant Hart, the drummer, the guy who wrote and sang it. A song about heroin and what happens when that person you love is changing colour on you, turning the wrong shade of blue. F***ing junkies. They ruin everything.

HuskerDu-1984-JunkYard

319. dogs

Dogs is the epic Pink Floyd track that you couldn’t put on when you and your high school friends all got high. You’d get maybe three minutes in and some idiot would say, ‘Let’s hear Dark Side instead. It’s so cool when all those clocks go off.’ I came to really hate Dark Side because of those morons. Still do (sort of), or maybe I’m just allergic to it. None of that trouble with Dogs and its withering 17 minute rip into all things corporate, capitalist, evil – the cannibal eat or be eaten Darwinian reality that’s still so dominant in our world. And the thing is, it found eighteen year old me a very pivotal moment, forced a consciousness that I’d been flirting with anyway. Something to do with just saying NO to every greed and conformist based assumption I’d been fed by every parent, teacher, coach, priest, expert I’d ever encountered. They’re all wrong, it shouted. Do what they say and you’re already dead, dragged down by a stone. Or as my friend Motron put it, Dogs is punk rock on acid, then slowed way down … but in a good way.” (PR)

PinkFloyd-1977-live

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

566. Roads to Moscow

Al Stewart was a respected albeit minor British folkie on his way to becoming a rather bland MOR contender when he wrote this pocket symphony about a young Russian soldier in World War Two, and his ultimate betrayal at the hands of the Great Stalin. And it’s so beautiful, so epic, so sad it pretty much stops time. Seriously. They should teach Roads To Moscow in high school. I’m sure I learned more from its eight minutes than I did in pretty much all History 10.” (Philip Random)

ALstewart-1974

887. if there is something

The post Brian Eno, pre valiumized Roxy Music captured in full live force, taking an okay sort of half-country experiment from their first album and pumping it full of all kinds of delirious drama. Stick with it through the violin solo, the conclusion is as big and rich and mercurial as love itself. From 1976’s Viva! which was in fact recorded on Roxy’s 1974 tour.

roxy-1974