“Fred Frith being one of those geniuses who pretty much always let his playing do the talking, Gravity being an album that dates back to 1980, but it was deep into the 1990s before I gave it a proper listen. Music that stood the test, no doubt about that. Or more to the point, music that had confidently showed the way to the cool future we were then having. Rock and jazz and folk and all manner of exotic elements all humming along very nicely together, not world music per say, but what the world actually sounded like, with Hands of the Juggler a delirious standout, particularly once it shifts gears around the three-minute point.” (Philip Random)
“The title says it all, and the lyrics back it up, speaking as they do to the stupid notion that musical genres are competing nations which, at best, should just avoid each other. F*** that sh**! Though it is worth noting that you’ve got to do more than just slap your bass and dress like a pimp to bring up the funk. You’ve got to somehow earn that.” (Philip Random)
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)
“54-40 have given us a lot of good albums over the years, but the only one I’d truly call great was their second, the one called simply 54-40. A mostly straight up rock record that was (a rarity for the 1980s) not a pile of dumb clichés, but rather a collection of smart, solid songs with Alcohol Heart a particular stand out because it never got overplayed (even on campus and community radio) and yes, as a matter of fact, it tells the truth. Drink enough (but not too much) and close your eyes, and you really can feel the whole damned world.” (Philip Random)
Jethro Tull main man Ian Anderson was nothing if not level-headed come 1978. While many of his fellow formerly cool rock star types were scrambling (often pathetically) in attempts to reinvent themselves as somehow edgy and relevant in the face of punk rock etc, he just told it like it was — that he was more concerned about his farm up in Scotland than the state of the zeitgeist, the big horses in particular. The album in question may have seemed a throwback at the time, but over time, its mix of folk and rock elements has come to feel more timeless than anything.