“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)
“In which John Lydon (aka Rotten) conducts a mid-1980s re-imagining of the concern known as Public Image Ltd, engages with the likes of Bill Laswell, Ginger Baker, Stevie Vai etc, and blows more than a few minds. The album is called Album (of course), with Rise the big (almost) hit single. It’s about Apartheid apparently, but to my ears, it’s concerned more with anger itself, and its inherent elemental energy. Like wind or electricity or the stuff of split atoms, the question quickly becomes not, should we have it (fact is, we do and it ain’t going away), but what should we do with it? Get drunk and wail on some guy down at the pub, or maybe get it focused, turn it into a laser beam that destroys an empire, frees slaves, saves children from lives of boredom and futility? Not bad for a punk.” (Philip Random)
It’s all there in the opening line: I am angry, I am ill, and I’m as ugly as sin. Welcome to Magazine, a band that is definitely not working the same boring fantasies as your Van Halens, Bostons, Foreigners or any of the other popular outfits of the day. Nah, this was a Dostoyevskian truth, bitter and beautiful. And what a hot band! All the bile and eviscerating energy of punk, but not afraid to be a little sophisticated. Hell, you could even dance to it, annoy the people downstairs, under the floorboards.
“1978 sometime. I’m home alone watching Saturday Night Live, and BAM! Devo hits the stage. I had heard them already, the whole first album, and didn’t hate it, but I didn’t exactly get it either. I certainly wasn’t thinking, this is it, the true and weird future for all of mankind, because that is what it was. I think. Anyway, back to SNL. Devo did their version of the Stones’ Satisfaction and … well, let’s just say it was a Ballad of a Thin Man moment for me (that Bob Dylan song where he sneers at straight old normal Mr. Jones and says, “Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you?”) And yeah, I wasn’t even twenty years old, but I was already Mr. Jones, getting swept aside by some brand new thing I just didn’t get. Except I wasn’t, because I did like Devo and what they were doing with reality. I just didn’t know what to do with it all. Eventually, I’d realize that this was the whole point. This was my confusion asserting itself, beautiful and raw and uniquely mine. The trick was to trust it, maybe even love it, definitely not fight it, but that would take a season or two in hell to finally figure out.” (Philip Random)
“It continues to amaze me that this hit in 1977, the year Punk truly erupted, tore the firmament asunder, tossed multi-dimensional hand grenades up and down the corridors of power and complacency. And Talking Heads were very much part of all that, playing all the relevant clubs, going to all the relevant parties. Except Don’t Worry About the Government isn’t really raucous at all, just a spry ditty about clouds and pine trees and peaches and civil servants and friends, and loved ones. Nothing at all to worry about.” (Philip Random)
“Wherein I apologize for not including any other Cramps offerings on this list. I guess, for me, they were first and foremost a live phenomenon, an ongoing mayhem of so-called Psychobilly and whatever atrocities Lux Interior, Poison Ivy and company felt compelled to commit on any given night. So I never got around to owning any of their albums. In fact, I only have Surfin Dead because it shows up on the soundtrack for Return of the Living Dead the best damned zombie movie of all time. Equal parts scary and hilarious. Rather like the Cramps.” (Philip Random)
“In which the outfit known as Gong put their psychedelic meandering to punk power, their aerie-faerie bullsh** to pure raw rebellion and somehow keep the f***ing world on its axis, doing its revolutionary thing around the sun, which is itself swerving in weird cycles through the unknown (un)limits of infinity. By which I mean, what value anarchy if it does not float? … or should you ever find yourself tripping on weapons grade psychedelics and feel the need for a soundtrack that’s both youthfully raw yet somehow cosmically smooth, seek no further than the Allez Ali Baba blacksheep have you any bullshit mama maya mantram found here. It makes perfect sense. All fifteen minutes of it.” (Philip Random)
There’s nothing nice about The Stranglers, particularly through their earlier, better years before the heroin started slowing things down. With a song like Nice and Sleazy hitting like a crude, ugly throwback to at least the Dark Ages … except it’s just so damned good. Groovy, heavy and really just reminding us where rock and roll came from anyway. As sleazy as it needs to be.
“Call me agnostic on The Jam. Don’t hate them, just never really joined the fan club. Which is not to say they didn’t nail it every now and then. Like with That’s Entertainment, hitting like a scene from a movie that never got made, the one where the mod punk sort of new wave guy puts down his electric guitar, grabs his acoustic and gets to hard strumming, spitting out his disgust at all the ugliness getting passed off as beauty, all the villains getting sold as heroes, all the nightmares with laugh tracks. Just smile, folks, call it entertainment, and don’t mind the rotating knives.” (Philip Random)