The Jesus + Mary Chain were never going to top their first album Psycho Candy in terms of zeitgeist grinding superlativenoise. And yet they’ve managed to stick around for a good while anyway, always good for some dark, menacing pop thrills, like Sidewalking, a single from 1988 (the same basic pop historical moment that Public Enemy unleashed Bring The Noise — it was a damned fine year for disturbing the peace).
In which The Hollies get more serious than usual with an almost-hit about a man who, everything golden thing he touches, he destroys, which rather confuses the original myth about the king with the golden touch who ended up starving to death, because who can digest golden bread, or stew, or porridge for that matter? But it’s still a hell of a strong song. Welcome to psychedelic England, 1967, where there was at least as much confusion as colour in the magical breeze. As it was, Graham Nash (who wrote King Midas) would soon be splitting from the band, taking off to America and all manner of future glory as a serious rock artist, while the rest stayed home and mostly stayed pop, with a few golden moments to come, but nothing like what they’d once known.
“In 1989, when Can U Dig It was fresh and entirely cool, it felt inconceivable that this particular Pop wouldn’t just eat itself, it would eat the whole f***ing world. Because Pop Will Eat Itself had a beatbox, samples, world eating smarts and guitars – who needed anything more? But it wasn’t to be. Can U Dig It did not hit massive all over and everywhere. I guess the Poppies just weren’t cute enough (or maybe black enough). And ultimately, who cares? It’s the world’s loss, not mine. I’ve still got my Furry Freak Brothers, my Twilight Zone, my pumping disco beats. And yeah, Alan Moore still knows the score.” (Philip Random)
“If you’re British, you’ve likely heard plenty of T-Rex in your time, maybe way too much. But over here in the Americas a track like Ride A White Swan never cracked pop radio back in the day, so it still retains the kind of freshness that turns heads, gets people nodding along, smiling, wondering, ‘Who is this?’ Like it was recorded last week, not better part of half a century ago. Still makes me smile pretty much every time I hear it, Marc Bolan’s oddly spry little ditty about skyways, sunbeams, druids and tatooed gowns. Some say it invented Glam. I ain’t arguing.” (Philip Random)
“Silver Rocket may well be the perfect Sonic Youth nugget. On one level, it’s a ripping cool pop song about riding a silver rocket, I guess, or perhaps heroin. On another, it’s a metaphysical hand grenade that blows a gaping hole through the reality barrier into the next nineteen dimensions. And it accomplishes all of this in barely three minutes.” (Philip Random)
“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)
If nothing else, Brian Eno’s Another Green World has a perfect title. Put it on and you get transported to a very agreeable yet very different place. Alien even. Yet oh so green and achingly beautiful, like a dream, vaguely remembered via odd, mostly pleasant, always strange fragments, with St. Elmo’s Fire an actual pop song easing from the mists halfway through side one, deepening the mystery, because what the hell is St. Emo’s Fire but a mystery? And there’s a superlative Robert Fripp guitar solo.
More or less perfect modern pop from a more or less perfect moment in modern pop-time. Which is to say 1972, glam eruption. Except it’s wrong to classify Virginia Plain (or Roxy Music for that matter). Virginia Plain defies genre. It just is. Three minutes of pure, strange, driving fun. And thus a reason to live.
It’s 1984 and proto-goth underlords Bauhaus have broken up, but guitar guy Daniel Ash still has some shadows to explore with bassist (and former Bauhaus roadie) Glenn Campling, an outfit they’re calling Tones on Tail. And it all comes good (if weird) with Pop, an album that that goes all kinds of cool places that music of the moment generally doesn’t. In the case of Real Life, that means acoustic, expansive, dynamic – the right kind of psychedelic.