128. rock and roll

“The image I’ve generally had of Lou Reed is of this too cool misanthrope who lived to hate the Beatles, ruin parties, bring everybody down to his level of overall discontent. But then you hear a song like Rock And Roll (from the Velvet Underground’s Loaded) in which he rhapsodizes the redemptive freedom inherent in hearing the right three minute song at the right time, and well, all is forgiven. The man is even more like the Grinch than he lets on – with a heart at least two-sizes two big.” (Philip Random)

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133. straight to hell

Combat Rock is far from the Clash’s best album. Yet Straight To Hell may well be their best single song, working an oddly open groove to make room for a gush of Joe Strummer passion and consciousness that manages to cover all manner of unstable ground from British Colonialism to American interventionism to junkiedom to everything else. ‘Could be anywhere – any frontier – any hemisphere’ being a key line, speaking to the universality the (r)evolution that the Clash were always propounding, though not always so eloquently as here. Want to get to the heart of 99-percent of what’s wrong with the planet? Start with everybody who’s been just shoved aside by history and its dubious intentions. We need to be needed. All of us. Every frontier. Every hemisphere. Else it’s straight to hell. All of us. The only band that mattered maybe the last time they mattered.” (Philip Random)

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166. perfect kiss

“I saw New Order twice in what was supposed to be their early 80s prime and they tanked both times. As near as I could tell, it was tech issues, all those drum machines and sequencers NOT synching up with the various human factors (the singer, the songs). But man, did they hit sublime heights in the recording studio! Proof, I guess, that sometimes a new form is best before it’s fully formed, the various clichés established – the form in question here being techno (or whatever you want to call it) when it was still allowed to have genuine human factors in the mix, pushing the machines in directions they might otherwise have chosen not to go. In terms of world breaking singles, Blue Monday‘s the obvious example but everybody’s already heard that a lot. Perfect Kiss on the other hand has remained comparatively obscure, mainly I suspect because it’s never in a rush, but rather plays a long cool game (exquisitely captured in its official video), saving most of its glory for its second half. A sudden break and then a slow build to that bass guitar, that profoundly beautiful bass guitar (speaking of genuine human factors). No wonder there’s a car crash at the end.” (Philip Random)

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208. major malfunction

January 28, 1986. The Space Shuttle Challenger and all on board explode across the consciousness of the world, America in particular. Before the year’s out, Keith Leblanc (drummer, mad scientist, co-inventor of the various grooves that pretty much set hip hop free), will release an album called Major Malfunction, the title of track of which is driven by all manner of relevant audio samples from the day. No sad piano, no violins. Just evidence. Welcome to the future, it seems to be saying. Like a disaster movie with human error the cause.

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717. nature

“The Beatnigs only released one album, and it’s unique. A place where industrial noise and all manner of other musics don’t so much blend as find a way to grind together, intensely and intelligently, with Nature a standout because I agree with Michael Franti, yeah, I love all the doves and coyotes and flamingoes and rats running wild and free, but short of a dog or two, all of my favorite animals are human.” (Philip Random)

(photo: Cor Jabaiij)