358. higher than the sun

In which Primal Scream discover drugs, forget who they used to be, set their controls for the heart of the sun and somehow go further. Or as Philip Random noted at the time, “There were two suns that day, everything split, refracted. There was acid in the mix, and serious altitude, and an ocean. And some sort of abyss that at least one of our retinue seemed to be at the point of falling into forever and in fact they did for at least a while, yet such is the nature of genuinely amplified psychedelic confusion, this wasn’t really discussed at the time, we were more concerned with oceans and shores and solid ground, how the higher goal seems to be both being out there committed to the waves and the currents of eternity but also firmly rooted in some sort of metaphysical ground. It didn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. Unless there are in fact two suns, two worlds, two solar systems, maybe billions. And so on. This went on forever but it was all over by the end of the song in question, which was Primal Scream’s Higher than the Sun, a sort of extended version of the extended version pumping away on the ghetto blaster that we’d dragged with us to this edge, this ledge, this forehead of the world.  And then we all went home, ate solid food and drank red wine, yet nothing would ever be the same. Maybe this all happened. Maybe it didn’t. But I do remember it.” Found on 1991’s Screamadelica which needs to be heard by everyone eventually.

PrimalScream-1992-live

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377. magnificent seven

“In retrospect, we realized that The Magnificent Seven was the Clash taking on hip-hop, but in early 1981 when Sandinista first arrived, nobody in suburban Canadian wherever had even heard the term yet. So for me, it felt more like a riff on Bob Dylan, subterranean and homesick — definitely New York City in all of its turn of the decade corrosion and despair, and yet madly fertile anyway, not unlike the world as a whole at the time. The acid helped in this regard. I feel I should I apologize for this, all the acid references that seem to pop up whenever some kind of broader cultural view is required as to what really went down in the 1980s (my angle on it anyway). But why should one apologize for telling the truth? The Clash never did. Even when they were wrong.” (Philip Random)

Clash-1981-backstage

397. lost in the supermarket

“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)

Clash-supermarket

418. Pow R toc H

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.

SydBarrett-1967

426. telephone + rubber band

“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)

PenguinCafe-MASK

435. astronomy domine

“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)

PinkFloyd-1967-live

440. searching for Madge

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.

FleetwoodMac-1969-live

601. losing faith in words

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)

peterHAMMILL-1980

615. Synchro System

“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)

KingSunnyAde-1983