226. stratus

“I first heard the groove from Stratus via the main sample from Massive Attack’s rather brilliant Safe From Harm. But Billy Cobham‘s original track roars off in a whole other direction, and blisteringly so. The lead guitar comes care of a guy named Tommy Bolin who was supposed to be the saviour of the instrument in the early-mid-70s, but he hooked up with Deep Purple instead, and then OD’ed on heroin. As for Mr. Cobham, I figure if he was a good enough for Miles Davis, he was good enough for all humanity.” (Philip Random)

BillyCobham-1973

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228. all tomorrow’s parties

“Where the f*** is all the Nick Cave on your list? This from my neighbour, Motron. The easy answer is, well, I only have one album on vinyl, and that’s rule one of this thing. Because all my Nick Cave and/or Birthday Party vinyl was stolen back in 1988, and ever since it’s been CDs or cassettes or just mp3s. The more difficult answer had to do with issues I had concerned Mr. Cave’s tendency toward assholism and romanticizing cooler than death junkiedom. The key word there being ‘had’, because I was wrong on that. And even if I was right, I was still wrong, because a man’s music is often as not the best thing we’ll ever get from him, and thus it should never be shrugged off or denied because of alleged sins. I mean, f*** that kind of judgment. We’re all sinners in our way and doomed to perdition, yadda-yadda-yadda. So here’s to taking the opposite tack. Here’s to embracing the kickass genius of Mr. Cave’s take on the Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrow’s Parties which is still known to cause earthquakes whenever it is heard.” (Philip Random)

NickCave-1986

(photo source)

269. nice + sleazy

There’s nothing nice about The Stranglers, particularly through their earlier, better years before the heroin started slowing things down. With a song like Nice and Sleazy hitting like crude, ugly throwback to at least the Dark Ages … except it’s just so damned good. Groovy, heavy and really just reminding us where rock and roll came from anyway. As sleazy as it needs to be.

Stranglers-1978-posing

278. for the love of Ivey

In which The Gun Club kick out the sort of murky, raw LOUD-quiet-LOUD that would have shifted bucketloads of units to the grunge crowd … if they’d only released Fire of Love (the album) ten years later than they did. Because in 1981, the world just wasn’t ready for the likes of For the Love of Ivey or any number of other dangerous gems. Not the mobbed up geniuses who programmed radio anyway, ran the major record labels, shifted the units. Which in the end has got to be a good thing – The Gun Club still sounding fresh, still beautiful in their ugliness, like Elvis from hell.

GunClub-1981-backstage

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

329. silver rocket

Silver Rocket may well be the perfect Sonic Youth nugget. On one level, it’s a ripping cool pop song about riding a silver rocket, I guess, or perhaps heroin. On another, it’s a metaphysical hand grenade that blows a gaping hole through the reality barrier into the next nineteen dimensions. And it accomplishes all of this in barely three minutes.” (Philip Random)

SonicYouth-1988-liveBLUR

356. south of heaven

“How f***ed up was the war on drugs? In Los Angeles, 1993, a few weeks before Christmas, a few weeks after River Phoenix had died on the sidewalk outside the Viper Room, a gram or two of heroin cost less than a gram or two of proper skunk weed due mainly to who and what had been getting busted of late. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if we weren’t day drinking, and feeling that something else was needed in the mix, and Gus from Idaho, being cheap, showed up with some heroin instead of the expected bud. And the thing is, none of us are that cool. We’ve never done heroin, but suddenly there it is getting laid out in narrow brownish lines on the coffee table, and yeah, we’re all just drunk enough to be stupid enough to not give a f***, even if you can die just snorting the stuff, particularly if you’re not used to it, if your body hasn’t built up a decent tolerance, this being common knowledge to anyone who’s seen Pulp Fiction. But then just as Greg from Osoyoos is rolling up a dollar bill, Slayer comes crashing in, full roar on the stereo. It’s Smith from Nelson, calling bullshit, enlisting no lesser ally than Lucifer himself, the Morning Star from his haunt way down south of heaven, demanding we see things at least slightly straight. Long story/short, we Just Said No to the heroin, went out for cheap tacos instead, ended up watching I Love Lucy reruns on some lost cable channel. And Slayer will forever have a place in my heart and soul, somewhere in the paradox file.” (Philip Random)

Slayer-1988-live

361. heroes-helden

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard Heroes a million times already. But have you heard the German/English edit that showed up on the soundtrack for Christianne F, the most depressing movie ever?  There’s just something about what that complex language does to Mr. Bowie’s delivery, the deeper, more wrenching depths of soul and enunciation, how it gets you right to the heart of what was then still a divided city – two opposed universes of politics and animosity grinding up against each other. Forever. Or so it felt at the time.

DavidBowie-ChristianeF

419. busload of faith

“Some late 1980s truth telling from ole Lou Reed, as bitter and misanthropic as ever, and yet still bothering to deliver great songs, the album known as New York being full of them. With Busload of Faith perhaps the closest he ever got to seeing a light that wasn’t drug fueled. Because it’s true, I think. It was then. It still is now. The facts don’t add up in any kind of hopeful way. Never have, probably never will. We’re all f***ed. We’re all gonna die. And yet life seems to keep on keeping on. Hell if Mr. Reed can get behind it, maybe there is something to this faith thing.” (Philip Random)

LouReed-1988