173. one more time

 

“Second of two in a row from the Clash‘s last truly great, truly world beating album, the six-sided monster known as Sandinista. In the case of One More Time (and it’s dub), that means the ideal soundtrack for an ironic walk through an upscale suburban enclave on a warm spring evening (‘must I get a witness for all this misery?’), particularly if there’s a house on fire a few blocks away, sirens a-howling, black smoke rising, and you’re a little high on LSD. This actually happened to me, 1981 sometime. I ended up watching it all from maybe a block away, and thinking (not for the first time) that the Apocalypse wasn’t something that was coming, it was already here, and I was in the middle of it – and so was everybody else. Armagideon times indeed.” (Philip Random)

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174. Broadway

“Have I raved enough yet about Sandinista, the vast and multifaceted Clash album that doesn’t generally end up on Best Of All  Time Lists? London Calling being the one that tends to get all the glory. Which it deserves, of course, but I would submit that sometimes more really is MORE when it comes to art, beauty, meaning, rebellion everything. Which, in Sandinista‘s case means thirty-six tracks spread across six sides of vinyl, enough to drown in if necessary. And maybe it is. Necessary. Because Sandinista is the greatest band in the world (at the time) firing all of their guns at once and hitting way more often than they miss. Broadway shows up at the end of Side Four. A slice of Beat-like poetry that may start out weary and down for the count. But never count this band out. Ever. Not in 1980-81 anyway.” (Philip Random)

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336. big science

“It’s 1982 and Laurie Anderson, who no one I know has ever heard of, has suddenly painted a picture of the future, equal parts strange and beautiful, yet already haunted. The whole album‘s a gem but the title track deserves special mention for the way it delivers this future — all shopping malls, drive-in banks and every man for himself. And yodeling, hallelujah to that, and to the big science that makes it all possible — those cooling towers off the edge of town, higher than any church steeple ever towered, hissing and droning, liable to melt down and explode at any second.” (Philip Random)

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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)

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408. thela hun gingeet

It’s 1981 and King Crimson main man Robert Fripp has reformed the band (after better part of seven years in the wilderness) with a whole new sound and Discipline, and the result is thundering (to put it mildly). Thela Hun Gingeet translates as Heat In The Jungle and it concerns an experience that Adrian Belew (the new guy) had while out for a walk with a tape recorder in the still rather mean streets of NYC. Word is, it actually caused stereo systems to catch fire back in the day.

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580. Venus in furs

In which the Velvet Underground remind us that in NYC, the so-called Summer of Love was more about coolness and shadows and shiny boots of leather than the hippie sh** that was so popular elsewhere. Music so driven, angular, dark that it made you want to grab a whip and get to cracking it in time. Based on a rather pivotal 1870 novella of the same name that explores themes of sadomasochism and dominance, it hits like a wrong door, the kind you open without really thinking about it, but once you have, whatever’s going on in there – it has you, it won’t let you go. Which perhaps begins to explain how it ended up being used to sell tires.

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608. friction

The title track from Television’s Marquee Moon is such a monster that it’s easy to forget the rest of the album, none of which is remotely average. Friction makes the list for the title alone, being such an apt description of the Television sound — that shrill, gleaming thing that happens when you rub two other things together that maybe you shouldn’t, and then you rub them a little harder and it gets even better, tearing a hole in the reality barrier that can never be fully mended, and a good thing too.

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960. fly on a windshield + Broadway Melody of 1974

Two songs that more or less fuse into one from that oft forgotten era when the band known as Genesis weren’t just considered cool and relevant, they had the keys to the underground. In fact, they had a whole concept album about the place called The Lamb Dies Down on Broadway wherein a Puerto Rican street punk named Rael gets caught up in a local apocalypse (like a fly on a windshield) and next thing he knows, he’s trapped in dense labyrinthine depths that will take him the better part of four sides of vinyl to reconcile. In other words, it’s the early Genesis at the absolute peak of their ambitions (if not their attainments) and Peter Gabriel’s final album with the band. Though both would go off to achieve mega levels of success on their own, neither would ever again come close to the sheer weird edge cutting heights (depths?) they achieved here.

1026. Radio Clash

1981 was a pretty brilliant year if you were an open-minded Clash fan. Between London Calling and Sandinista, they’d just released ten sides of genre bending, ever expanding, often superlative vinyl in barely more than a year. So when Radio Clash (the single) appeared in four different versions, all dubbed up and dance floor ready, there was no reason to doubt what was being promised. Hell yeah! Their next move would be to launch a pirate satellite so the world would finally have all cool radio All The Time. If you dropped enough of the ole lysergic, it felt very possible. Maybe even likely.” (Philip Random)