“It was a summer party, a backyard thing, 1980 or thereabouts, the evening shifting sweetly into twilight, everybody else having gone inside leaving just me and the stillness, and the music, the stereo having been dragged outside earlier, various mixtapes coming and going, and now, miraculously, as though ordained from on high, the Moody Blues‘ epic and spacious finale to Threshold of a Dream, their third and best album — it suddenly seemed to contain everything, capture all the complexity of the moment in strange apprehension, like a painting, but not looking at it, being inside it. Definitely the threshold of something. The acid was kicking in.” (Philip Random)
“The Three Johns being three guys named John (except one of them was actually Philip) and a drum machine – their general mood being loud and, in the case of Death of the European, somewhat psychedelic. My friend James couldn’t get enough of it for a while in the mid-80s. The yuppie apocalypse, he called it, tragedy of a soulless man having the wrong kind of epiphany as he realizes he’s been feeding a malevolent beast his entire working life, every dollar earned an investment in his own death. The 80s were full of such epiphanies, but they were seldom backed by such a strong soundtrack.” (Philip Random)
This is Husker Du as they broke through, defining that zeitgeistmoment when punk finally embraced the psychedelic, became eternal. But Pink Turns To Blue is also Husker Du hinting at their inevitable demise. Or more to the point, Grant Hart, the drummer, the guy who wrote and sang it. A song about heroin and what happens when that person you love is changing colour on you, turning the wrong shade of blue. F***ing junkies. They ruin everything.
“Love and Rockets definitely felt fresh when they first hit in around 1985. Ex-Bauhaus players lightening up some, laying down solid psyche infused rock and pop at a time when pretty much nobody else was thinking that way. But by the time their third album hit, Earth Sun Moon, I guess I was looking elsewhere, because I didn’t really notice No New Tale To Tell until years after its release. In fact, it was the flute solo that hooked me via somebody else’s mixtape. Not since Jethro Tull …” (Philip Random)
“I missed Hawkwind completely in the 1970s which is when they were truly happening. In fact, I never even heard of them until well into the 1980s, and then it was mostly dismissive stuff from various critics: spaced out slop for morons who were too stoned for Rush, or words to that effect. The critics were wrong, of course. What Hawkwind had going, at least in those early days, was a nigh on transcendent application of science-fiction concepts to psychedelic methods. Seriously. Put on the headphones and crank this stuff up. It will take you places beyond the known universe and you won’t even need drugs. Because the musicians have done them for you. Lots of them. With 1972 a sort of ground zero in that regard. Doremi Fasol Latido was the fresh album of the moment, but the real magic was happening live via the Space Ritual and points well beyond within.” (Philip Random)
In which Primal Scream discover drugs, forget who they used to be, set their controls for the heart of the sun and somehow go further. Or as Philip Random noted at the time, “There were two suns that day, everything split, refracted. There was acid in the mix, and serious altitude, and an ocean. And some sort of abyss that at least one of our retinue seemed to be at the point of falling into forever and in fact they did for at least a while, yet such is the nature of genuinely amplified psychedelic confusion, this wasn’t really discussed at the time, we were more concerned with oceans and shores and solid ground, how the higher goal seems to be both being out there committed to the waves and the currents of eternity but also firmly rooted in some sort of metaphysical ground. It didn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. Unless there are in fact two suns, two worlds, two solar systems, maybe billions. And so on. This went on forever but it was all over by the end of the song in question, which was Primal Scream’s Higher than the Sun, a sort of extended version of the extended version pumping away on the ghetto blaster that we’d dragged with us to this edge, this ledge, this forehead of the world. And then we all went home, ate solid food and drank red wine, yet nothing would ever be the same. Maybe this all happened. Maybe it didn’t. But I do remember it.” Found on 1991’s Screamadelica which needs to be heard by everyone eventually.
“London’s Pretty Things were always there in the swinging 60s, in tune with the times, if not in time with them (if that makes any sense), which means that by 1968, they were launching into realms psychedelic and beyond with the epic tale of Sebastian F Sorrow, a full-on integrated cycle of songs that hit the culture many months before the Who’s Tommy would make the notion of a rock opera a genuinely big deal. No, SF Sorrow didn’t sell that well, doesn’t generally get name-checked when the experts are trying to make sense of the age, but for me anyway, it stands up better than Tommy, minute for minute, song for song, maybe because it’s only a one record set, with the high point coming on side two, when SF Sorrow encounters the mysterious Baron Saturday (intended to represent Baron Samedi of Haitian Voodoo notoriety), who ‘borrows his eyes’ for a trip through the underworld, with terrifying consequences.” (Philip Random)
This one’s found toward the end of side one of the first Steve Miller Band album which sort of stumbled out of freak scene San Francisco at a time when nobody at the business end of things really knew how to handle all the psychedelic weirdness, so they just got out of the way. Thank all gods for that. Because there are few better examples anywhere of just how delirious things were in those days. Songs broke down, evaporated into seagulls and drones, found some bluesy B.B. King riff, evolved into profound and visionary choruses, ended up getting titles that had nothing to do with anything you’d actually heard. Maybe you had to be there, but maybe we all were, in our way, and still are, we children of that madly accelerated past’s glowing future.