88. armagideon time [justice tonight]

The Clash‘s take on Willie Williams’ Armagideon Time wasn’t included on Sandinista. In fact, it was released the previous year on the Black Market Clash 10-inch (a loose and cool collection of various b-sides and whatnot), but it came to my ears at almost exactly the same time as Sandinista care of a mixtape a friend made which was all Clash, all to some degree not punk or even rock, more the groovy, strange, dub-induced stuff which comprised so much of Sandinista‘s six sides, pissing off so many of the old school punks (but f*** those reactionary idiots anyway), and very much sucking me in, affirming me in my growing impression that whatever was going on out there culturally speaking, the world had changed profoundly in the last year or two.

My world anyway. Something to do with apocalypse, end times, armagideon – not coming, already upon us, and not really that bad, not if you had the right kind of eyes (and ears). I can even remember the precise moment it all came clear. I was tripping on some middle-grade LSD, out wandering the suburban sprawl with a house fire in the near distance, a calamity of sirens, smoke, people coming and going in the encroaching dusk, a whole block like a war zone. But I was somehow okay with it. Maybe because I had that mixtape playing on my walkman, Armagideon Time, the stretched out dub version guiding me through all the smoke and confusion like it was all just a movie, but not one I was watching, one I was in. Like, here it is, pilgrim, the Apocalyptic Now. Get used to it, because it ain’t goin’ away. It’s not pretty but it may be beautiful.” (Philip Random)

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106. perfect

The The being (at the time anyway) the last of the The bands, and they weren’t really a band anyway, being mostly the vision, the passion, the soul of Matt Johnson. And man, did he get it right in and around and on 1983’s Soul Mining, one of those albums where every song works, every moment feels inevitable. And yet, there didn’t seem to be room for Perfect, not on the original vinyl anyway, certainly not the longer, cooler, better remix version. Which is the first The The track I ever heard. One of those psychedelically enhanced long day’s journey into night and then back again into day situations. And yeah, I’d be paying for it in the long run, but in that sublime dawn moment, my friend Simon’s freshest mixtape playing from yonder blaster, the first rays of sun touching my face, it was a grand thing, like feeling the gods invent the world anew … grasping all of my considerable problems as their work, essential to the great scheme, whatever it was. Because in the end, everything’s perfect somehow, thus justified, even as a wild wind kicks up, sends loose trash swirling … or is it shrapnel from some distant warzone? You probably had to be there. I still am apparently.” (Philip Random)

107. O Lucky Man!

Alan Price being an original Animal and British Invasion contender, O Lucky Man! being exactly the movie you need if you’re fourteen and suburban and every bit as existential as you are horny. Because you do need something to turn your world on its head, expose and eviscerate your every delusion as to how things really work, until all you can do really is laugh at the fact that nothing’s funny anymore, it’s god damned horrific. And yet, like the song says, there remains a big IF at the heart of it all, IF you can just see through all the bullshit, and figure out a reason to smile anyway. IF being the middle part of Life anyway. Did I mention I was stoned when I saw O Lucky Man! for the first of at least nine times, just getting started really on the path of self de-programming, art and drug induced? ” (Philip Random)

111. come together

“There are many versions of Primal Scream‘s Come Together floating around out there, but I’m going with Andy Weatherall‘s mega remix because of what the Reverend Jesse Jackson says in the sample which more or less carries it – that there are no genres, Rhythm and Blues and Jazz are just labels, to which I’d add Disco and Funk and Punk and Hip and Hop and Country and Western and Techno and Dub and Heavy and Metal and Glam and Goth and Rock and Roll and so on. There really are only two kinds of music. Good and Bad. I like to think I’ve invested some of the best parts of my life in digging for the good stuff, which in this case, got me to Britain, 1991, ecstasy rampant, all the toughest thugs having fallen in love with all humanity, everybody coming together in exquisite simultaneity. A little messy perhaps (and chemically dependent) but brilliant nonetheless, transcendent even. One for the ages. Actually, they’re all for the ages now. One thousand down on this list, one hundred eleven to go … ” (Philip Random)

129. Supper’s Ready

“Speaking of Peter Gabriel, if I’d compiled this list in say 1979, Genesis would’ve been all over it (particularly their Gabriel era stuff), with Supper’s Ready likely right on top, certainly in the top three. But such is the nature of this culture stuff. It won’t stop twisting, turning, swallowing its own tail, vomiting it all back up, eating it again. In other words, I grew kind of allergic to Supper’s Ready for a while, an affliction for which I only have myself to blame. I loved it too much, wanted too much from it. A song about everything. A song very much about the Apocalypse — Pythagoras with a looking glass, the beast 666, the guaranteed eternal sanctuary man, Winston Churchill dressed in drag, and ultimately the new Jerusalem, good conquering evil, an angel shouting with a loud voice, souls rising in ever changing colours, as a germ in a seed grows, like a river to the ocean, and so on …

Epic stuff ripped straight from the Bible itself, but not without a serious dollop of absurdist fun. The weird part is, I didn’t even hear it until 1977 (five years after it first showed up on the album known as Foxtrot, two years after Gabriel had split the band) by which point there was a punk storm blowing nasty and vindictive. But that was me in my late teens, as uncool as I’ll ever be, and yet life has seldom seemed so rich, the smorgasbord so alluring. Except then I had to go and eat way too much. Which gets us to the title finally. Supper’s Ready. Apparently it’s a reference to the very end of the Bible†, the final scene of the book of revelations (and here I’m sort of quoting my late friend James who used to study this kind of stuff before he decided life just wasn’t worth the trouble anymore). Apparently when all is said is done, Satan vanquished, Christ triumphant, God’s kingdom established here on earth, there will be a huge feast to which all the worthy, the sainted, the blessed, the good are invited. Apparently, it will be one heaven of a feed. But in the meantime, we’re all doomed to just keep on keeping on.” (Philip Random) 

(image: Armando Gallo)

130. here comes the flood

“It was the night John Lennon was murdered. My friend Simon dropped by with some LSD and, given the extremes of the moment, our fates were sealed. It was our profound duty to now trip the vast lysergic, play a pile of Beatles records and see where the mystical magical vibrations might take us. They took us to dawn, sitting in my car now, high up a hilltop, taking in the first grey light of a cold and misty day. We had Simon’s little brother asleep in the backseat with a dog named Alice (it’s a long story) … but the Beatles weren’t on the playlist anymore. We’d sort of lost track of them as things started to peak, the gods having other plans for us apparently. Now it was a mixtape Simon had made of more recent stuff, moody and cool and mostly instrumental. Except here was Peter Gabriel suddenly, singing Here Comes The Flood, but not the version from his debut album, this was sparer, sharper, far better. I later discovered it was from Robert Fripp’s Exposure album — everything peeled back to just voice, piano and some ghostly Frippertronics. A song of apocalypse, no question, of saying goodbye to flesh and blood. Yet not forecasting doom in the end, but rather a sort of dreamlike survival. And then the rain really started to deluge on that hilltop. And it still hasn’t stopped, not really, the 1970s being known as the last decade that the sun ever really shone.” (Philip Random)

136. return of the grievous angel

“Late 1980s sometime, date a bit vague because I was convalescing at the time, coming off a prolonged ailment that, in retrospect, had at least something to do with a disease in my soul. Which made it the perfect time to finally discover the music of Gram Parsons. Yeah, I’d heard of him, how he pretty much invented country rock, hooked up with Keith Richard, turned heroin blue way before his time. But now via random discovery of his only two solo albums at a yard sale, I was actually hearing his soul, because that’s what it was (still is), his take on so-called Country. Soul music, grievous and angelic. And precisely what I hadn’t been hearing pretty much my entire life, which was a white man digging deep into the roots of his own music, finding some beauty therein. If you don’t like Country, you don’t really like me.” (Philip Random)

149. downpayment blues

“When AC/DC first hit my particular suburb, I was in my late teens and fully committed to the sinking ship that was known as Prog Rock, after which I grabbed some wreckage that washed me ashore on the island known as punk, new wave etc. Because hard rock, heavy metal, riff rock – that was for little kids as far as I was concerned. I was wrong, of course. Because jump ahead a decade, I’m almost thirty now and in no way measuring up to any of the adult expectations that anybody ever had for me (my parents, my teachers, myself even) and among many other unexpected diversions, I’m finally ready for the genius that is-was-will-always-be AC/DC. Honest, direct, maybe a little evil, always piledrivingly on the nose whether deliberately hellbound or, in the case of Downpayment Blues (from Powerage, the second last studio album of the Bon Scott era), just slacking off, drinking cheap swill, doing nothing with a vengeance. Or as somebody put it in Slacker† (the movie) a few years later, ‘… withdrawing in disgust should never be confused with apathy.’ Words to live by.” (Philip Random)

196. Alex Chilton

“Right sound, wrong timing. That was me and The Replacements, who were exactly what you needed in around 1987 if you were desperate for something/anything genuine in the realm of booze-soaked-truth-telling-poetry-infused rock and roll. Which I guess I wasn’t. I was more into noise and beats and psychedelics and other higher, more quantum concerns at the time. But five years later I was drinking again and finding it very easy to fall in love with Alex Chilton (the song not the man) – me and children by the millions. But seriously, all love to the man to for inspiring a song that could inspire such love, Alex Chilton being one of the guys from Big Star, still maybe the greatest band that hardly anybody’s heard (there’s none on this list because I’ve never found any affordable vinyl). And before Big Star (when Alex was still a teenager) there was a group called the Box Tops, who had a monster hit called The Letter. Love that song.” (Philip Random)

(photo: Daniel Corrigan)