“Johnny Cash is right. The world’s always bigger than you thought it was. And weirder, more wonderful. There’s always a reason to crawl out of whatever hole you’re in, get up, try one more time. Because there’s always another song. I guess I don’t really know Johnny Cash’s story as well as I should. I know he had some hard times. I know he got himself saved by the Lord Jesus. I know he gobbled a lot of pills for a while, mixed them up with moonshine or whatever. I know he managed to burn down a forest in California. A thick and complex volume, that man in black. Thank all gods (or whatever) that he found so many songs to sing. Including this one, all (almost) two minutes of it, that I have no memory of adding to my collection, except there it was one day, stuck on side two of an album called From Sea To Shining Sea. About America, I guess. Which goes without saying. Johnny Cash is always about America, one way or other.” (Philip Random)
“Wall of Voodoo being one of the first uniquely post-1970s outfits I ever threw in with — tight, unafraid of new technology, a little nasty, full of film noir shadows and surprises, even some laughs. And they could deliver live. Which is what happened in Vancouver’s Luv Affair, early 1982, one of the great shows of that or any year. They opened strong with a cover of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, and it all peaked maybe an hour later with Back In Flesh – a song about what happens when your arm gets smashed and your salary gets cut and the corporation’s boiling over … and everything else. Yeah, it sounds a bit like the B52s, I suppose, but what the hell’s wrong with that?” (Philip Random)
The Final Countdown* is Randophonic’s longest and, if we’re doing it right, most relevant countdown yet – the end of result of a rather convoluted process that’s still evolving such is the existential nature of the project question: the 1297 Greatest Records of All Time right now right here. Whatever that means. What it means is dozens of radio programs if all goes to plan, and when has that ever happened?
Installment #22 went like this.
877. Brian Eno + David Byrne – help me somebody
876. Nico – I’m not saying
875. Wilco – heavy metal drummer
874. Severed Heads – advertisement + power circles
873. Sunroof – Hero
872. Monkees – porpoise song
871. Add N To X – plug me in
870. Brian Eno – The Lion Sleeps Tonight
869. Miriam Makeba – Mbube (The Lion Sleeps)
868. Osamu Kitajima – benzaiten [reprise]
867. Assembly – never never
866. Sonic Youth – Providence
865. Flying Burrito Brothers – sing me back home
864. Julie London – yummy yummy yummy
863. Madonna – justify my love [the beast within]
862. Bim Sherman & Dub Syndicate – Can I be free from crying?
861. Johnny Cash – don’t think twice, it’s alright
860. Lindstrom & Prins Thomas – Horseback
859. Arto Lindsay – light moves away
858. Leonard Cohen – there is a war
Tracks available on this Youtube playlist (not exactly accurate).
The album title Wereldsuccessen says it all (a Dutch double vinyl compilation that I grabbed one day at a yard sale). Because by 1970, Mr. Tom Jones was an international monster, a force of passion and life that had more or less conquered all comers be they hip or straight, cool or absurd, and all by taking none of it remotely seriously. Except maybe when he took on 16 Tons, the old mining song, his Welsh blood rising, giving voice to who knows how many ghosts.
“I discovered Eric Burdon + The Animals‘ entirely OK take on Johnny Clash’s classic at least thirty years after the fact. But man, if the timing wasn’t perfect. Mid-1990s. Drinking too much, drugging too much, stumbling through some mid-life blues, it seems I was falling into my own ring of non-heavenly fire. But suddenly there was Mr. Burdon to not so much catch me as welcome me, sounding like a Tom Jones that was actually cool and experienced enough to get what the crazy psychedelic ’60s thing was all about – something to do with saving the entire universe by letting one’s freak flag fly, even if that meant going personally to hell in process. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” (Philip Random)
The Twelve Mixtapes of Christmas have got nothing to do with Christmas (beyond being a gift to you) and they’re not actually mix tapes, or CDs for that matter – just mixes, each 49-minutes long, one posted to Randophonic’s Mixcloud for each day of Twelvetide (aka the Twelve Days of Christmas).
The mixes are in fact remnants of an unfinished project from a few years back that had something to do with compiling a playlist for an alternative to Alternative Rock (or whatever) radio station. To be honest, we’re not one hundred percent clear about any of it because somebody spilled (what we hope is) red wine on the official transcript, thus rendering key parts illegible.
Bottom line: it’s five hundred eighty-eight minutes of music covering all manner of ground, from David Bowie to Bow Wow Wow to Tuxedomoon to Claudine Longet, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Captain Beefheart, Aphrodite’s Child, Tom Jones, Marilyn Manson, Ike + Tina Turner, anything and everything, as long as it’s good.
The final installment (#15) of St. Steven’s POP Apocalypse aired November 22nd on CiTR.FM.101.9.
Here it is in two Mixcloud streams, each about an hour …
The podcast of the whole program is available for download here.
This marks the climax of our programming since June. So, if we got it absolutely right, it’s probably one of the greatest radio programs ever across all bands and frequencies. If not, we apologize. Because you certainly can’t blame the music, the twenty most singular records of all time, presented here in descending order.
20. Prince – let’s go crazy (1984)
It’s the mid-80s and it somehow makes perfect sense that the single most kickass dancefloor killer of the raging moment is an exhortation toward the love of God and going crazy. Made it to the #1 in the USA, #2 in Canada, #7 in the UK, #10 in Australia.
No video available. Thanks, Prince.
19. My Bloody Valentine – When You Sleep (1991)
It’s arguably a sin to even listen to this in recorded form as it could never do sonic justice to the live experience. And yet, such is the My Bloody Magnificence of the thing — it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. There is only everything.
18. Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane (1970)
Of course it didn’t chart. It tells the truth. About everything. Children are not the only ones who blush. Villains don’t always blink their eyes. The best music scares the hell out of the powerful.
17. Alice Cooper – Schools Out (1972
Catches the mad punk delirium of the last day of school, reminds us that all the most important lessons happen outside the prison walls. And funny at that. Made it to #7 in the USA, #5 in Germany, # 2 in Ireland, #1 in the UK.
16. Jimi Hendrix – all along the watchtower (1968)
The Dylan cover so good it forever changed how Dylan himself performed the song. As to what it’s actually about. That’s pretty obvious. It’s about businessmen drinking the man’s wine, with riders approaching and the wind about to howl. Made it to #20 in the USA, #5 in the UK.
15. Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman (1968)
Jimmy Webb wrote the song but Mr. Campbell nailed its sad and true centre. Yeah, he went on to perpetrate a mostly mediocre career, but these three minutes could redeem Richard Nixon. Made it to #3 in the USA, #1 in Canada, #7 in the UK.
14. Undertones – teenage kicks (1978)
Punk spins into pop, conjures a confection that manages to be both fierce and fun. Given Teenage Kicks overall lack of chart supremacy, you gotta figure it all happened just a little too soon for the world. Our gain. We’re not sick of it. Made it to #31 in the UK.
13. Clash – I fought the law (1979)
Is it wrong that a band that wrote so many masterpieces of their own should have a cover register as their highest selection on this list? No. Because the Clash just weren’t that pure. That was the attraction. They were a raging guerrilla battle all the way, all the time. Name a tactic. They used it. Did the Law win in the end? Who said it was over? Made it to #24 in Ireland.
12. Johnny Cash – ring of fire (1963)
About as happy a song about going to hell as we know. Or maybe it’s about falling in love. Or something else. What it is, is the Man In Black whooping it up with mariachi horns, having a blast. Works at parties, weddings, anywhere really. Made it to #1 on the USA-Country chart, #17 on the pop chart, #12 in Australia.
11. David Bowie – life on Mars? (1973)
A 1973 single release from a 1971 album which didn’t get heard in the Americas until at least 1972. In other words, Mr. Bowie (aka Mr. Jones) is messing with the fabric of reality yet again, and winning. A full-on Hollyweird epic in less than four minutes. Romance, regret, yearning, aliens. Made it to #3 in the UK, #39 in Germany, #4 in Ireland.
10. Nina Simone – I wish I knew how it would feel to be free (1967)
It didn’t seem to chart anywhere. It changed the world anyway. |How do we know this? Because everyone that hears it agrees with it … or they’re one of the jailers.
9. Stevie Wonder – superstition (1972)
Because of what happens whenever this shows up in a party situation. The funk destroys all fascists. Goodness triumphs. That it’s also a rip-roaring condemnation of all the insane stuff people believe, well, welcome to inside of the Top Ten. Made it to #1 in the USA, #11 in the UK.
8. Pere Ubu – final solution (1976)
Wherein the atom heart of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues getst split and full-on apocalypse unleashes. Deliberately kept off the charts by shady men dressed in black lest it immanetize the eschaton ahead of schedule. Such was the murky truth of 1976.
7. KLF – doctorin’ the Tardis (1988)
The Dr. Who theme and Rock And Roll Part 2 joined at the trans-dimensional hip. More fun than all the Star Wars and all the Star Treks (and their spinoffs) combined. And magnitudes smarter. Made it #1 in the UK, #2 in Australia, #4 in Ireland, #16 on the US dance charts.
6. Rolling Stones – paint it black (1966)
It’s not even the Summer of Love yet but the Stones are unleashing the sitars and balalaikas, knocking the whole world on its side, even as they dump a tanker load of black paint over all those pretty psychedelic colours. Made it #1 in the US, the UK, Canada and the Netherlands, #2 in Finland. What the hell, Finland?
5. Stooges – I wanna be your dog (1969)
Released in June of 1969, it didn’t chart anywhere, didn’t get them invited to Woodstock or Ed Sullivan. Yet it’s still at least the fifth greatest and/or most singular record of all time because entire universes have formed from the mad chaos of its wake.
4. Sex Pistols – pretty vacant (1977)
The most Abba like of the Sex Pistols singles, probably because the main riff was more or less stolen from them. Yet such atrocities were unleashed upon it that nobody seemed to notice. This was going to be Anarchy in the UK except Motron started making allergy noises. Made it to #6 in the UK.
3. Beatles – revolution (1968)
Motron remembers Grade Four. “Mrs. Hackett would let us play records on Friday afternoons. And it always ended with The Beatles’ Hey Jude/Revolution. Hey Jude always got played first because it was the A-side and ladies first, the girls preferred it. Revolution always got played louder because after all that, the boys needed to tear shit up.” Made it to #1 absolutely everywhere.
2. Beatles – I am the walrus (1967)
Beatle John drops acid for maybe the thousandth day in a row, ends up watching TV and taking notes of great terror and epiphany while sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun to shine. Jack Kerouac once said that all he had to offer was his confusion. John Lennon took it even further. He was the walrus. Goo-goo-ga-joob. B-side to Hello Goodbye which made it #2 everywhere that it wasn’t #1.
1. Elvis Presley – if I can dream (1968)
The kid from Tupelo singing like he truly believes that a single song can not just redeem his own soul but everyone else’s as well, the world over, in 1968 on a TV special with the hard rain of assassinations and war and insurrection falling here there and everywhere. Seriously, what’s a King to do? Made it to #12 in the US, #6 in Canada.