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.
“Viv Akauldren were from Detroit, I think. I seem to remember hanging out with the guitar player one day, wandering the sidewalks of downtown Vancouver, mid-80s sometime. He was overwhelmed by how peaceful it all was – how safe. They were gigging in town that night. The booking agent was a friend. So I guess I was being hospitable. Anyway, it all speaks to how lost so much of that era is. So many great indie outfits coming and going, cranking out powerful stuff, leaving little or no trace. Of course, I did manage to hang onto a copy of one of Viv Akauldren’s albums – Old Bags + Party Rags – which was nicely paranoid, political, psychedelic, and entirely relevant, then and now.” (Philip Random)
The Dukes of Stratosphear being XTC in psychedelic disguise, their first EP 25 O’Clock being one of those sublime moments wherein parody transcends itself, becomes its own wonderful thing. And from 1985 no less, which was about as far from the giddy light of the original psychedelic age as the culture ever got. In fact, go ahead and call 25 O’Clock the turning point, its 25 minutes of wild and weird technicolor pop invention being precisely the kind of superlative noise that could cause a shift in a planet’s orbit.
By the time When Tomorrow Hits hit, Spacemen 3 had already broken up for all the regular reasons that drug addled, pioneering psychedelic outfits break up, and then some. A cover of a Mudhoney original, it was supposed to be part of a double-A split single which would also feature Mudhoney’s version of Spacemen 3’s Revolution, but for whatever hazy reason, that didn’t happen. What does happen is Spacemen 3’s equal parts smoother and sharper take on When Tomorrow Hits, particularly that part toward the end, when it hits!
First there was Aphrodite’s Child and its mad fusions of extreme psychedelia and extreme pop. Eventually, there was Academy Award winning soundtrack stuff so definitive it’s since become kind of a cliché. In the middle somewhere is Earth, Vangelis Papathanasiou‘s first solo album, where the two extremes fuse and find all kinds of room to move. Aeons of it as We Were All Uprooted attests, both ethereal and grounded, like history itself shrouded in mist, the clues buried in the earth.
The Godfathers being another one of those 1980s bands that should’ve hit way bigger than they did, with 1988’s Birth School Work Death (song and album) the closest they ever came to a proper breakthrough. “When I Am I Coming Down is exactly what it sounds like. The story of a bad trip. My friend Gary likened it to losing control of your car. You’re bombing along at high speed and everything’s perfect, superlative even. Until you’re halfway around a bend, going maybe ninety mph and you lose traction, with various trees, a ditch, a fence, all looming. You are going to crash. The question is, how will you crash? And what will you crash into? Everything playing out in very slow motion.” (Philip Random)
Original reggae upsetter Lee Scratch Perry plus the Dub Syndicate plus Adrian Sherwood‘s mix mastery equals Time Boom X De Devil Dead, arguably the greatest (mostly) forgotten album of all time. Mad rants, left field boasts, insights that only make sense once you stop trying to make sense of them — all set to grooves that can’t help but melt in your mind. “Needless to say, we listened to this a lot whilst tripping the old lysergic back in the day. Who ever said reggae wasn’t psychedelic, or the 1980s for that matter?” (Philip Random)
“Maybe I’d would’ve liked them more if they hadn’t call themselves the Psychedelic Furs. Or as a friend once put it – too much fur, not enough psychedelic. But that doesn’t apply to the first album, which was cool and dark and working more edges than any normal reality could offer. And a rare sound that was in 1980, the new decade dawning with all of its overblown and over-shiny colours and sounds and whatever else. In fact, you can do a pretty good job of tracking all that by just lining up the first three Psychedelic Furs album covers in chronological order. Not bad. Just not getting better.” (Philip Random)
In which The Melodic Energy Commission, Vancouver based pychedelicists hook up with a Hawkwind refugee, ignore all the punk rock and vitriol that’s raging around them at the time, go deep and high instead, and deliver an essential travelogue for those keen on exploring the great beyond within. The drugs in question? Most likely some of the local shrooms that are so prevalent every autumn once the big autumn rains start a-falling. The album in question? Stranger in Mystery. It’s a trip.