“If the house was on fire and I could only grab one David Bowie album, I’d die for sure because I’d be stuck there trying to make up my mind. Or maybe I’d just be f***ing honest with myself and grab Diamond Dogs, because I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the one I’ve listened to the most over the years, the one that doesn’t even begin to have a weak or misguided moment, the one I’ve never seemed to grow even slightly allergic to, perhaps because it’s so witheringly uninterested in being pleasant. And Sweet-Thing-Candidate-Sweet-Thing (the mini-epic that takes up most of side one) is the high water mark.
The Ziggy alien is long gone by now. This new Bowie creature is very much earthbound – half human, half dog, and rolling in the muck and mire of an apocalyptic hellscape that’s equal parts Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, and George Orwell. And he’s running for political office,. He wants to be Big Brother. Which is sort of the concept here. Diamond Dogs being the album that was originally intended to be an adaptation of Orwell’s 1984, but Mr. Bowie couldn’t secure the rights, so it ended up being its own uniquely dark and harrowing thing. And yet there’s a sweetness at the heart of it, a sorrow even, a sliver of soul and humanity that suggests maybe all is not lost. Not yet anyway. Welcome to the early-middle part of the 1970s, the outlook may be grim, but damn, if the noise isn’t superlative.” (Philip Random)
“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 side one of 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. I have none of that trouble with Dogs and its withering 17 minute rip into all things corporate, capitalist, evil. And the thing is, it found eighteen year old me at a 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)
“As the story goes, David Bowie’s first post-Ziggy Stardust album was supposed to be a musical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, but he couldn’t secure the rights, so it morphed into Diamond Dogs which was its own weird, extreme thing with a few explicitly 1984 songs included in the mix, including the climactic Big Brother that manages to get quite epic before things go deeply off kilter with the Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family. Which is not just some b-grade horror stuff. It’s real. I’ve heard that infernal family, while deep inside the wrong kind of acid trip, the ‘I’m Dead’ kind, the kind you just want to end, but it goes on for millions of years, with all these wraith-like forms howling at you forever, because you’re dead, you died, this is what comes next. Which I suppose is relevant to 1984. What it feels like to get stomped in the face with a boot. Forever. Great music though.” (Philip Random)
The Solid Time of Change is our overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era – 661 selections from 1965 through 1979 with which we hope to do justice to a strange and ambitious time indeed, musically speaking.
Part Forty-Four of the journey went as follows:
Alice Cooper – halo of flies
David Bowie – sweet thing
David Bowie – candidate
David Bowie – sweet thing [reprise]
Yes – Siberian Khatru
Jethro Tull – Passion Play 
Emerson Lake + Palmer – Toccata 
Yes – starship trooper
Robert Fripp – water music
Robert Fripp [with Peter Gabriel] – here comes the flood
Fresh episodes typically air every Saturday night, starting 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9. However, Randophonic will be taking a break from new programming for a while starting next week (July-29). Our Facebook page will stay active.
“It was 1984 finally, and the nightmare of George Orwell’s Big Brother hadn’t really materialized. True, there was great evil in the world, agents of brutality and control endeavoring to shut down all peace-beauty-freedom-love forever. But the outcome was still in doubt, because they didn’t yet have music under control. They weren’t even close. Maybe they had the mainstream (the Whitney Houstons, the Duran Durans, the Huey Lewises and Phil Collinses), but who the f*** cared about that crap with wild and inventive stuff erupting all over the margins, from all genres in all kinds of guises. Case in point, the Maffia, c/o Mark Stewart and On-U Sound (and its mainman, producer, knob-twiddler, dub adventurer, Adrian Sherwood), none of whom I noticed until 1984’s Pay It All Back Vol.1 crash-landed in my brain – a label sampler offering all manner of tortured beats, breaks, samples, meltdowns long before we even had names for such stuff. At least Hallelujah had a familiar melody you could hang onto.” (Philip Random)
In which Mark Stewart (and his Maffia) lay down a dubbed out dirge of struggle and truth, reminding us that George Orwell’s 1984 was spot on if you happened to find yourself on the wrong side of the poverty line in the year in question. “Trying to pay the rent, the main worry’s job security. The busier you are, the less you see.” Same as it ever was.
First of two in a row from the Minutemen‘s Double Nickels on the Dime, arguably the best double album of the 1980s. Because 1984 was supposed to be the year that we all finally found ourselves in George Orwell’s living hell, betrayers of love, loving only Big Brother. But if you were digging deep, steering clear of the sewage that was flooding the mainstream, you had punk-rock-hardcore-whatever-you-want-to-call-it getting ambitious (progressive even), swinging hard for the fences in all kinds of cool ways. And the Minutemen were leading that charge.
In which the Eurythmics, at the peak of their 1980s pop success, take a sideways step and deliver the soundtrack to 1984 (the movie), which was pretty good in a harrowing, all-too-faithful-to-the-book sort of way. But in the end, almost none of the Eurythmics music made it to the final cut. Not because it was bad. It just wasn’t what the director had in mind. Philip Random recalls Room 101 getting lots of play on his car stereo during the prophetic year in question, “A nifty little nugget about torture, propaganda, the malevolent destruction of human souls. What wasn’t to love?”