“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)
“Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps was the final album of his best decade (1970s), the one where he acknowledged punk rock while reminding us that he and Crazy Horse had been making a proper garage racket long before the likes of the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones hit the scene. Not that Rust Never Sleeps is a punk rock album, just raw and loud, and that’s all reserved for Side Two which kicks off with the one of a kind epic Powderfinger. Epic, sorrowful, poetic — I always assumed it was about the American Civil War, a young kid left behind to defend the farm (or whatever), facing down an approaching enemy with no hope at all yet determined to pull the trigger anyway. But that’s just my read. Different from Neil’s, I’m sure. And everybody else’s for that matter.” (Philip Random)
“Dogs is the epic Pink Floyd track that you couldn’t put on when you and your high school friends all got high. You’d get maybe three minutes in and some idiot would say, ‘Let’s hear Dark Side instead. It’s so cool when all those clocks go off.’ I came to really hate Dark Side because of those morons. Still do (sort of), or maybe I’m just allergic to it. None of that trouble with Dogs and its withering 17 minute rip into all things corporate, capitalist, evil – the cannibal eat or be eaten Darwinian reality that’s still so dominant in our world. And the thing is, it found eighteen year old me a very pivotal moment, forced a consciousness that I’d been flirting with anyway. Something to do with just saying NO to every greed and conformist based assumption I’d been fed by every parent, teacher, coach, priest, expert I’d ever encountered. They’re all wrong, it shouted. Do what they say and you’re already dead, dragged down by a stone. Or as my friend Motron put it, Dogs is punk rock on acid, then slowed way down … but in a good way.” (PR)
“Vancouver’s fabled York Theatre, 1985. Husker Du are in town, the hot ticket of the season. The joint’s packed and wild, like some hack Hollywood screenwriter’s fever dream of a punk rock show gone horribly wrong (in a good way). I’m pretty sure this is the night that somebody actually dove off the balcony. Or maybe that’s just how the drugs remember it. I was definitely quite high, ripped on some of the best LSD of the decade. Anyway, the evening ends up being like high school sex. It peaks way early with warm up act NoMeansNo more or less destroying the headliners. Dad is the encore, the first time I’ve ever heard it. I remember it moving me to tears. The sheer horror of it, and empathy, I guess. I remember thinking, punk rock isn’t supposed to do this. I remember throwing myself off the balcony. Well, maybe not that part.” (Philip Random)
King of the Hill was the Minutemen‘s version of consciously selling out. It said so on the cover, Project: Mersh. Record company big-wigs, pouring over the data, brainstorming how to shift more units, having a eureka moment. “I got it! We’ll have them write hit songs!” Good for a laugh. But then the word hit that D. Boon, the big guy that played guitar and sang and wrote most of their songs, was dead, killed in a van crash in Arizona. A brutal end to what had been a damned fine story.
“I discovered Barclay James Harvest during my mostly lame teenage years when I was doing everything I could to avoid punk rock (for mostly lame, late teenage reasons). This tendency led me down a lot of dubious roads, but as is always the case with music – there was gold to be found. In the case of Suicide? (found on 1976’s Octoberon), that would be not just the song itself (epic and sorrowful), but also the extended coda wherein binaural recording techniques are employed to give a visceral feel for what it’s like to hurl yourself off the edge of a building, achieve terminal velocity then SMACK … unto whatever happens (or doesn’t) next.” (Philip Random)
Side One Track One of the first (and only really) Sex Pistols album is a solid and enduring f*** you to everyone that’s ever taken a cheap holiday in some broken down so-called Third World locale. Because it was true in 1977, it’s even more true now – the world ain’t equal, your luxurious fun and good times inevitably involves some other guy’s blood, sweat, pain, misery. But don’t let that worry you. Just stick to the big hotels and always drink bottled water, and if you see a new Belsen in the distance, look the other way.
Speaking of Pink Floyd, come 1977, they were pretty much the poster children for all that pompous, bloated, overblown so-called Prog Rock that Punk was supposed to be annihilating. Which made Animals a source of much confusion, because it was so full of uncompromising bile and rage, it would’ve been punk rock if the songs weren’t so long. Pigs gets singled out here for the sheer violence of the instrumental parts, like the worst of dreams. You wake up to air raid sirens. You look skyward into the night, catch a glimpse of a pig the size of a football field, with red laser eyes, and they’re fixed on you.
John Miles‘s timing sucked. Because he really did seem to have it all on his debut album Rebel. Solid songs, kickass band, world class production c/o Alan Parsons who had his own big deal project going by then. Except it was 1976, so punk was breaking out across town. Even cutting your hair redneck short and posing with a shotgun wasn’t going to slow that storm down.