12. rock’n’roll suicide

“Rock music is weaponry, no question. Final ammo of the disconnected, the lonely, the desperate. And who better to grasp this, put it into words and song but the Alien himself – David Jones, aka Bowie, aka Ziggy Stardust? Because even aliens are human, deep down inside. Or better put – we’re all aliens at some point, from some angle or other, alone at the edge of the night, and never more so than at some pivotal moment in our f***ed up youth, hanging onto the edge of some unfathomable abyss. To be or not to be.

The palpable memory for me here is my friend James, long gone now, because he let go of the edge, became a rock and roll suicide. Was he even aware of this song? Probably. He knew his music way better than I did. But mostly, he knew his bullshit dreams, got swallowed by them. That need to be adored, far outweighing his desire to give. That’ll kill you every time one way or another. Anyway, David Bowie’s Rock’n’roll Suicide contains all that, and more, the sublime climax to one of the very few albums that I still listen to in its entirety. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect because nothing is, but holy sh**, Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars gets damned close to that particular impossibility.” (Philip Random)

63. sweat loaf

“I’ve said it before. I’m sure I’ll say it again. If the Butthole Surfers hadn’t existed, it would’ve been necessary to invent them. Because somebody had to do it, finally deliver a noise that was the manifestation of everything any decent, god-fearing parent or businessman or teacher or priest or shopkeeper or hockey coach had ever feared about so-called rock and roll, and worse.

Like that family of three that went missing in the vicinity of the Butthole Surfers’ compound in rural Texas, the young son butchered by the band, barbecued and force-fed to the dad who went mad and was later found naked at the side of the road, babbling, claiming he knew the truth about who killed JFK and the Jonestown massacres and how the Trilateral Commission figured into it all. Meanwhile, the mom just joined band, danced with them on stage, naked, and helped sell merchandise afterward. Such was the ugly and evil infamy of the Butthole Surfers circa 1987 … but only if you didn’t get the joke. Like their ‘cover’ of Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf, the title adjusted, everything else turned up and on its head. Better than the original by orders of magnitude, and Satan.” (Philip Random)

69. in my time of dying

“Because the highest Led Zeppelin track on this list would have to be from Physical Graffiti, the best of their least overexposed albums. I mean, I never even heard In My Time Of Dying until I finally bought Physical Graffiti, summertime 1989, almost fifteen years after the fact – that fateful day I went to the record store intending to spend a hundred bucks on maybe seven CDs and instead walked out with better part of thirty used albums, plus a pile of 7-inches. Because everybody was suddenly doing what I’d thought I was doing: switching to CDs. Which meant they were dumping all their vinyl. Which meant here was pretty much every album I’d always wanted but couldn’t really afford, now being  pretty much given away. And when I got home, Physical Graffiti was the first thing I played, with In My Time Of Dying EVERYTHING that had ever made Led Zeppelin legendary. The blues, the ROCK, the epic and dynamic darkness that said as much about the hard times of the Mississippi Delta circa 1932 as the concert trails of 1974. Or the imminent end of the world circa 1989, for that matter — one’s time of dying never more than a heartbeat or a split atom away.” (Philip Random)

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104. pretty vacant

Because it’s the f***ing Sex Pistols, arguably the greatest rock and roll band of all time, at their most pop, such as it is. Pretty Vacant being the one you could find on a mixtape with the likes of Elvis Costello, The Who, The Doors, The Cars even, without offending anyone.  Certainly no one you didn’t want to be offending. Based on an Abba song apparently.

(image source)

128. rock and roll

“The image I’ve generally had of Lou Reed is of this too cool misanthrope who lived to hate the Beatles, ruin parties, bring everybody down to his level of overall discontent. But then you hear a song like Rock And Roll (from the Velvet Underground’s Loaded) in which he rhapsodizes the redemptive freedom inherent in hearing the right three minute song at the right time, and well, all is forgiven. The man is even more like the Grinch than he lets on – with a heart at least two-sizes two big.” (Philip Random)

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137. sex beat

“I believe that the sex beat the Gun Club are on about here is what the kids call rock and roll. Which is why all the preachers and the like wanted it banned back in the day which, of course, is the best thing that could ever have happened to rock and roll. And it continued to happen over the years. Tried to anyway – the cleaning up of that filthy sex beat. Which whenever even remotely successful, only forced it underground, the filthiest place of all. And thus it ran into the likes of Gun Club †in the late 70s, early 80s, drinking and drugging their way around the grungiest dives of LA, dysfunctional as f*** and thus one of the greatest bands† most decent folk have still never heard of, and thus still capable of shaking a few foundations. All hail the self righteous. They know not what they do, and they do it so well.” (Philip Random)

(photo: Edward Colver)

295. man enough to be a woman

“The first time I heard Wayne (eventually Jayne) County’s Man Enough to be a Woman was at a punk bash, 1979 sometime. It showed up on a mixtape somewhere in and around the Buzzcocks, the Ramones, Devo, maybe some Kinks. It was that kind of scene. I didn’t even like punk rock (yet), but the parties were always good. So here’s a hint, kids. If the party’s good, the music is too, in spite of what your so called ‘taste’ may be telling you, because if you’re anything like me, your taste will be shit until you’re at least twenty-one. But anyway, Wayne County and the Electric Chairs weren’t even punk really, just loud and proud and defiantly brave rock and roll tearing glamorous scars into the fabric of reality. There was also some Abba on that mixtape. I was wrong about them, too, for a long while.”

422. loving cup

Second of two in a row from Side Two of the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. “The best side, I think. Or certainly the one I’ve listened to most over the ages. Some call it the country side, but I think roots is better, because it’s not all twang. In the case of Loving Cup, that means a piano driven sort of gospel groove that can’t help but celebrate all manner of wasted pleasures, like one of those parties that’s still going strong come noon the following day. So why stop now? I’d say it captures the decadent spirit of what went down at the mansion in the south of France through 1971, the Stones year in exile, but it was actually recorded in L.A. after all that. So let’s just say the spirit of it was still with them, finding its way out into the world.” (Philip Random)

RollingStones-1971-Nelcotte

740. brand new Cadillac

“Is there a bad track on London Calling? Is there an average track on London Calling? Brand New Cadillac is neither, of course. Brand New Cadillac is The Clash tearing through an old Vince Taylor b-side, unleashing the kind of old school rock and roll fervor that Bruce Springsteen could only dream of.” (Philip Random)

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