“This one came our way in 1979 (c/o London Calling, arguably the greatest album of any and all time), but it never had more currency for me than the summer of 1984. We dropped a lot of LSD that summer, in our mid-twenties by then. Old enough to know better, of course, or maybe just go further, higher, deeper through the absurdities of the ever corroding western world whose edges and holes and voids we felt compelled to explore. This meant going public with acid in our veins, taking it to malls, video arcades, strip joints, crowded downtown streets, fair grounds, everywhere, every weird and ugly thing. Getting lost in the supermarket, we called it.” (Philip Random)
It’s 1967 and The Pink Floyd have followed their increasingly deranged leader Syd Barrett to the very Gates of Dawn where some genuinely weird shit is going down. But don’t ask him exactly what. He’s too deep into the psychedelics to communicate on a rational verbal level, and he just keeps going deeper and deeper. Yet this particular message speaks volumes anyway. It calls itself Pow R Toc H and, in spite of the genuinely tragic madness that informs it, it’s really quite fun in a harrowing sort of way.
“It’s true. We dropped our share of LSD in the 1980s, often as not up on mountaintops, miles from any electrical outlets. So we’d drag a blaster with us, because you had to have a soundtrack for all the strangeness and multiplicity. But what happened when we ran into normal folks? That’s where the Penguin Café Orchestra cassette came in handy. Right at the point where their faces were twisting to baleful scowls of judgment and disgust, we’d let drop easy acoustic textures incorporating fiddles, banjos, harmoniums, all manner of wooden gear that nevertheless floated strangely on the subliminal breeze. Although that Telephone + Rubber Band song did seem to confuse.” (Philip Random)
“As with pretty much every band or artist that lasts for more than a couple or three albums, there is more than one Pink Floyd. And much as I can say wonderful things about at least four of them, it’s the first I get most rapturous about. The Syd Barrett Floyd, the madly off in every imaginable direction, with equal emphasis on ‘madly’ and ‘every’ and ‘imaginable’. Call it psychedelic, I guess, but only if you mean the real stuff, drenched in Owsley grade LSD25 and spraying it in all directions, dosing everyone it touches, so not a particular sound so much as an open door, or perhaps a collapsed dam. Whatever it is, you can perhaps hear it best in Astronomy Domine, side one track one of the first Pink Floyd album, and the only one to feature an intact (though that’s arguable) Syd Barrett on vocals and guitar and overall sonic commitment toward the heart of the sun.” (Philip Random)
The Fleetwood Mac story is long and confusing if nothing else. We all know the stuff that made them mega-rich and cocaine famous, but there’s an entire decade that precedes all that, and deep it goes, often with completely different singers and players working entirely different worlds and angles. Except the rhythm section, Mr. Fleetwood and Mr. Mac. You might even say the original line-up isn’t just the best Mac, they’re one of the best damned bands EVER, with guitarist Peter Green spearheading things, taking the old school blues, amplifying and psychedelicizing them, giving us stuff that barreled along neck and neck with what guys like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page were doing at the time. 1969’s Then Play On is the key album, capturing not just the breadth Mr. Green’s genius, but also hints of the psychosis that would soon tear him apart. Beautiful and gone, lost to ozone whilst Searching for Madge.
“Peter Hammill (aka the Jesus of Angst) is probably not a good choice for listening to while high on LSD. But we did it anyway any number of times. I remember Losing Faith in Words popping up once at exactly the right moment once, because words were indeed failing and I was trying to force the issue, which was only ever making things worse in the psychedelic realm, the reality barrier being revealed to be onion-like – peeling away in fractal layers. Stop it, counselled the song! You can’t win at this. And then some ambient Brian Eno got put on and I focused on my breathing.” (Philip Random)
“My immediate King Sunny Ade memory is summertime 1983, way the hell up the trails of the North Shore mountains. The acid is kicking in nicely and Motron decides to put Synchro System on the blaster. The now sound of Nigeria suddenly imposed upon the melting, lysergic edge of western civilization. And it worked, like displaced tourist music, which is generally what you want whilst tripping the beyond within. The live show was also transcendent a few weeks later, Commodore Ballroom, the King and twenty-odd of his African Beats working grooves within grooves within … well, you get the picture.” (Philip Random)
Call Volunteers (the song) Jefferson Airplane‘s punk rock moment, a short, sharp revved up call for genuine revolution at a time when such actually seemed possible. That is, if your hair was long and your soul experienced, and you were one of maybe four hundred thousand standing out in a muddy field one August morning in 1969 between downpours. Volunteers (the album) isn’t half band either.
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-Six of the journey went as follows (38-29):
Donovan – hurdy gurdy man
Aphrodite’s Child – the four horsemen
Aphrodite’s Child – all the seats were occupied
Mothers of Invention – brown shoes don’t make it
Beatles – I am the Walrus
Genesis – dancing with the moonlit knight
Van Morrison – astral weeks
Gentle Giant – knots
King Crimson – 21st Century schizoid man
Mike Oldfield – Ommadawn [part 1]
Fresh episodes air pretty much every Saturday night, starting 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and download options available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook page.