“I can’t remember who said it, but it’s stuck. Jimi Hendrix (all gods bless him to the nine known edges of the universe) gets maybe too much credit for defining what one could do, psychedelically, with an electric guitar, in 1967. Because it’s not as if The Pink Floyd‘s Syd Barrett wasn’t also unleashing gobsmackingly apocalyptic electrical storms. Maybe he didn’t have the licks, the elemental voodoo blues bubbling from his soul straight through his fingers … but he did have the angles, the great sheets of discord and noise that it was going to take to get this souped up, superlative noise clear of the earth’s orbit, off into the vastness of beyond, even if it was ultimately within (which in Syd’s case, would sadly prove a bottomless void). The rest of the band weren’t half bad either.” (Philip Random)
“Second of two in a row from the Velvet Underground, with Sister Ray likely to hit many as more weaponry than music, or as a DJ friend once put it, some songs you play for people, some you play at them. Either way, it’s a seventeen-plus-minute argument for A. how willfully out of step the Velvets were with pretty much everything else that was going down at the time (1968), and B. how brilliantly, thunderously, violently ahead of that time they were. By which I mean, the world needed Sister Ray. It just didn’t know it yet. At least, that’s how it worked for me. Discovered maybe fifteen years after the fact, mucking around through the bowels of a radio station‘s record library, educating myself. And I ain’t gonna lie. The extreme length was a particular selling point because not only did it force the limits of what we called The Reality Barrier, it also gave one time to cover a prolonged smoke or bathroom break – all the prog-rock epics of yore still being frowned upon in those contentious, battle weary days of the so-called Winter of Hate.” (Philip Random)
“Bauhaus still had one more album after 1982’s The Sky’s Gone Out but in terms of invention and sheer sonic adventure, it’s pretty safe to say they peaked here. And nowhere are things creepier, more sonically inventive than the final track, Exquisite Corpse. Dub, oblique fragments of poetry, sheets of nightmarish noise. Needless to say, this got a lot of play through any number of psychedelic excursions in the lead up to the mid-80s. An abandoned house comes to mind, right at the seashore, a sort of lost cove off Vancouver’s north shore. The weird part is how everything was still furnished, the library still stocked with books. I grabbed one, heavy, bound in strangely moist leather. I opened it up to some calligraphy, a language I didn’t recognize and yet it spoke to me anyway, and then I realized that the ink was blood red and running in trickles to the hungry floorboards. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was all but a dream.” (Philip Random)
(photo: Fin Costello)
“Speaking of Hawkwind, I realize it’s difficult for those who haven’t been there to grasp, but the difference between their sci-fi epics and everybody else’s, is that theirs are real (note the present tense). They aren’t fantasies. They’re honest tellings of events from the edge of time itself, where even now mystical warriors stand at the very brink of the vortex, the void, the abyss … and they hold true, they redeem us all. By which I mean Space Ritual may have been recorded live in 1972, decades from where I’m currently sitting, but I’m here to tell you that distance is all illusory, a side effect of the weirder than weird mechanics that make so-called reality at least begin to make sense to our puny mortal minds. Which I realize must be confusing as hell to try to comprehend. So don’t. Just listen to the album, and if you’ve only got time for one track, make that Master Of The Universe, because it’s solid sonic proof of everything I’ve just stated. It’s truth itself. And it rocks like a mother****er!” (Philip Random)
“I’m pretty sure this is one of those it’s-not-about-what-you-think-it’s-about songs, even if you think the ‘I Love You Jesus Christ’ stuff is just being ironic. Because there’s a level of sublime madness at work here in the Neutral Milk Hotel (call it surrealism, I guess) where Jesus is at least as real and miraculous as any carrot flowers, but the higher reality isn’t in the words anyway, it’s where they allow the music to go, the great waves unleashed, a perfect storm, except its not wind and rain but multi-colours, psychedelic and pure … and yeah, looking down from on high, the Lord God in Heaven smiles and knows that it is good, because multi-coloured psychedelia never killed anybody, just amused and enthused and perhaps confused them.” (Philip Random)
“The sorta punk thrash psychedelic power pop blast of Husker Du’s Celebrated Summer was exactly what my Universe needed in the mid-80s. One night in particular comes to mind. And it wasn’t even Husker Du playing, but an all all-girl band from California (wish I remembered their name) at the Arts Club on Seymour (best live venue this town ever had). 1986 I’m pretty sure, and summertime, which meant Expo was squatting in the near distance sucking all the light and love from things. And I’d just seen Skinny Puppy up at UBC, which was a terrorizing experience, because man, the acid was particularly FUN that night. So yeah, it all came around to the song not so much saving my soul (my soul was fairly intact in those days) as reigniting it with hope, fervour, blinding white light, which is to say, celebrated and wild, erupting with summer. And as soon as we got back to the car, New Day Rising got jammed into the cassette player. Once more unto eternity.” (Philip Random)
Another argument in favour of the Dub Syndicate (the whole On-U Sound project in general) continuing to be one of the great overlooked items in recent cultural history. Seriously. In the case of Stoned Immaculate, that means you grab a sample of Jim Morrison waxing poetic about what it’s like to be way out there at the psychedelic edge, lay it over some suitably strong and mysterious dub and voila! It hits the cool zeitgeist of summertime 1991. A stupid war has ended and with it the so-called Winter of Hate, so maybe something new and beautiful is being born. The 90s did have that vibe … for a while anyway.
Wherein Echo + the Bunnymen make it clear that they really are the greatest band in the world (for a few minutes anyway, live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1983), surfing all the powerful and angular waves of the confusing and psychedelic moment, taking them to places where gravity holds no sway. Which in the case of Do It Clean means, what the hell, why not throw in some Beatles, some James Brown, some Nat King Cole and Boney Maroni! Because once you’ve achieved a certain critical velocity, there are no borders anymore, no barricades, no lines between – it’s all just one superlative song.
“This being the version of Like A Rolling Stone that Jimi Hendrix played live in 1967 at the Monterrey Pop Festival. I may have been only seven at the time and thousands of miles away, but I heard it anyway, such was the superlative noise that Mr. Hendrix set loose unto the universe that evening – it cracked the speed of light, broke the bounds of time. And, of course, a loose, wandering cover of Bob Dylan’s still fresh epic had to be part of that performance, because that’s how zeitgeists work. A few songs later, he’d be setting his guitar on fire, a heat you can still feel … but that’s another story.” (Philip Random)