182. Pandora

“The Cocteau Twins are like the new wave Kate Bush. I can still see the idiot who said this to me, one of those music biz types who was still doing the feathered hair thing well into the 1980s. Not that there was anything at all wrong with Kate Bush. It was the timing of it, 1984. So-called New Wave had peaked at least five years earlier, and it was never a proper genre anyway, just a way of marketing fresh sounding stuff that was easier to listen to than punk and whatever. Which gets us back to the Cocteau Twins who were exquisitely easy to listen to, a million miles from punk, a welcome shade of beauty and mystery at a time when everything just seemed to be getting more and more obvious, strident, aggressive. Even the good stuff. Pandora and the album it came from (the aptly named Treasure) gave us something to listen to when we got home from various gigs and warehouse situations. Smoke a little dope, sip a little wine, get luxuriantly lost. Part of me still is. Lost, that is, like Pandora.” (Philip Random)

CocteauTwins-1984-live

 

(photo found here)

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195. the real thing

 

“Wherein the Pointed Sticks (straight outa late 70s suburban Vancouver) hit the eternal pop gold standard with a three minute nugget the whole world should have heard, but it didn’t for some stupid reason (and it still hasn’t). Which puts a big loud BULLSHIT to the argument I’ve heard over the years from some I know that, despite all the music biz’s ugliness, waste, criminality and stupidity, the truly good stuff always rises, gets its due, gets heard. Yeah right.” (Philip Random) 

PointedSticks-gigPoster

(image: Bev Davies)

198. Satisfaction

“1978 sometime. I’m home alone watching Saturday Night Live, and BAM! Devo hits the stage. I had heard them already, the whole first album, and didn’t hate it, but I didn’t exactly get it either. I certainly wasn’t thinking, this is it, the true and weird future for all of mankind, because that is what it was. I think. Anyway, back to SNL. Devo did their version of the Stones’ Satisfaction and … well, let’s just say it was a Ballad of a Thin Man moment for me (that Bob Dylan song where he sneers at straight old normal Mr. Jones and says, “Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you?”) And yeah, I wasn’t even twenty years old, but I was already Mr. Jones, getting swept aside by some brand new thing I just didn’t get. Except I wasn’t, because I did like Devo and what they were doing with reality. I just didn’t know what to do with it all. Eventually, I’d realize that this was the whole point. This was my confusion asserting itself, beautiful and raw and uniquely mine. The trick was to trust it, maybe even love it, definitely not fight it, but that would take a season or two in hell to finally figure out.” (Philip Random)

Devo-AreWeNot-8track

224. don’t worry about the government

“It continues to amaze me that this hit in 1977, the year Punk truly erupted, tore the firmament asunder, tossed multi-dimensional hand grenades up and down the corridors of power and complacency. And Talking Heads were very much part of all that, playing all the relevant clubs, going to all the relevant parties. Except Don’t Worry About the Government isn’t really raucous at all, just a spry ditty about clouds and pine trees and peaches and civil servants and friends, and loved ones. Nothing at all to worry about.” (Philip Random)

TalkingHeads-1977-live

(photo source)

230. back in flesh

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)

WallofVoodoo-1981-promo

(photo source)

323. trampled under foot

“Funky Zeppelin. Sort of. Trampled Underfoot‘s not exactly easy to dance to, yet it is relentless. Found on Physical Graffiti, the last truly great Led Zeppelin album, which strangely enough went a long way toward saving my life in the late 1980s, a decade after all the great punk and post punk and new wave eruptions that had to happen, had to shove the likes of Led Zeppelin off their various thrones and pedestals, because all things must pass as the former Beatle said (and various mystics before him). But that was then. This was later. Led Zeppelin were always going to return, culturally speaking. Oblivion just couldn’t contain them.” (Philip Random)

LedZeppelin-1975-live

360. The 15th

“A tight modern pop song with the kind of sharp, icy edge that defines a sonic future for all mankind. Which is pretty much what Wire did in 1979 with 154 (one of the greatest albums of any time) and songs like the 15th. Hell, I didn’t even hear it until at least five years later, called up the DJ because I had to know what this cool new song was.” (Philip Random)

Wire-1979-promo

 

364. 30 seconds over Tokyo

Pere Ubu were one of those bands I started hearing about in 1977-78 as punk and whatever finally started reaching the suburbs (the underside of them anyway). And then I actually heard them and yup, they were intense, noisy, hard to ignore but also hard to love. Though 30 Seconds Over Tokyo would eventually turn me. Because it’s just so damned good. It was the title first, reminding me of the movie, a World War 2 thing, American heroes bombing Tokyo, a suicide run, just like the record says. Except the record’s way better, and recorded way before punk actually, in 1975. Cleveland, Ohio of all places.  No, let me rephrase that. Cleveland, Ohio obviously. Because something had to start there, whatever it is that got started, that’s still going on, that mad suicide run to take the war to all the normals, figuratively, of course.” (Philip Random)

PereUbu-1975-live-02

394. green shirt

 

“David Lee Roth may be a world class ass but he does have a way with a one-liner, such as, ‘The reason more rock critics like Elvis Costello than Van Halen is that more rock critics look like Elvis Costello than Van Halen.’ Which is my way of saying, I guess I’m just not a critic, because I’ve never been an overwhelming Elvis C fan (more of an appreciator really), and most of his tracks that I do really like, you’ve probably already heard them a bunch, and thus they exude allergy potential. But not Green Shirt from 1979’s Armed Forces. I never heard too much Green Shirt. Tight, sharp, and smart as pop.” (Philip Random)

ElvisCostello-1979