211. Persian Love

“The only reason why Holger Czukay’s Persian Love isn’t way higher on this list is because many people have already heard it, even if they couldn’t really tell you when or where, or who for that matter. It first came to me via Music + Rhythm (Peter Gabriel’s Womad compilation album that came our way in 1982). Exotic, sweetly melodic, modern — it instantly hooked me, and thus I had to know more, and there was a lot to know. Because, it turns out Holger Czukay came from an obscure German band called Can … and so on. One of those journeys that started small, but damned if didn’t lead me to a vast mansion of musical (and thus human) possibility: doors within doors within doors, and they all kept inviting me deeper, higher. And somewhere along the way, I got the back story on Persian Love itself – how Mr. Czukay constructed it around a fragment of song he’d recorded from shortwave radio. Like a ghost … out of ancient Persia.” (Philip Random)

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248. America is waiting

“The gods must have had me in mind with America is Waiting, side one track one of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Brian Eno and David Byrne messing with African beats and rhythms, disembodied voices, all manner of weird noises, everything coming together to call down the venal soullessness of Ronald Reagan’s America, like the atmosphere itself was speaking to my concerns. How could all this not go well with the copious quantities of LSD that were bubbling around at the time? But the drugs wore off eventually. My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts didn’t, never has. Others may have used samples before, merged noise and rhythm and all manner of exotic tangents and textures. But once Misters Eno and Byrne had done their bit, this sort of stuff was emphatically here to stay, part of the firmament.” (Philip Random)

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249. E=mc2

“Speaking of Performance (the movie), it features prominently in Big Audio Dynamite‘s sample rich E=mc2, along with other bits and pieces from various films directed by Nicholas Roeg. And what a cool track it was (and still is), promising so much from Mick Jones in the wake of the Clash‘s rather ridiculous crash and burn, except they never really got any better, which can only mean they got worse. Not that Big Audio Dynamite were ever really bad (even if they were definitely B.A.D.) – just lacking Joe Strummer‘s overall sandpaper edge, I guess. Rather like Paul McCartney operating without John Lennon post-Beatles. At least B.A.D. never did a Christmas song.” (Philip Random)

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263. can u dig it?

“In 1989, when Can U Dig It was fresh and entirely cool, it felt inconceivable that this particular Pop wouldn’t just eat itself, it would eat the whole f***ing world. Because Pop Will Eat Itself had a beatbox, samples, world eating smarts and guitars – who needed anything more? But it wasn’t to be. Can U Dig It did not hit massive all over and everywhere. I guess the Poppies just weren’t cute enough (or maybe black enough). And ultimately, who cares? It’s the world’s loss, not mine. I’ve still got my Furry Freak Brothers, my Twilight Zone, my pumping disco beats. And yeah, Alan Moore still knows the score.” (Philip Random)

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704. reverse lion + downtown samba

Two tracks that flow together as one in Philip Random‘s mind. “It always bugs me when people call Yello synth-pop. Yeah, they have synths and they’re not afraid to pop, but there’s so much more going on, with their first album Solid Pleasure a solid clue as what it was all about. It was about everything – from drones to sambas to just pure out there techno-pleasures. I had a drummer friend who’d throw side-one onto the turntable and just pound away to it. He said it was all there, everything he could ever want from music. Ten years later, he was a deadhead, but that’s another chapter.” (Philip Random)

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705. mea culpa

“In which David Byrne and Brian Eno step outside of the Talking Heads for a bit and, to no surprise, end up changing music forever. No, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts didn’t invent sampling (Holger Czukay was already messing around with disembodied voices inside and out of Can), but it did rather open the gates, with Mea Culpa proving ideal for heroic doses of LSD, assuming you were up to it. I wasn’t always. I recall once hearing  it at a gloomy, January dusk, a riverbank, a cold wind blowing. We were in the flight path of the local airport. I became convinced an incoming plane was crashing. But it wasn’t the plane. It was me.” (Philip Random)

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789. ode to perfume

“The whole of Holger Czukay‘s third solo album, On The Way to the Peak of Normal, is a weird and mysterious and wonderful gem, with Ode to Perfume (the full version which fills the entire second of side of vinyl) particularly notable because of that haunting melody at the beginning – actual chunks of somebody else’s song that I vaguely recognized but could never place (sampling before they called it sampling), until I finally did place it, but only because a friend’s mp3 shuffle randomly threw the two of them on pretty much one after another. It’s Suspicion made famous by Jimmy Stafford, a genius piece of paranoid pop if there ever was one.” (Philip Random)

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911. he’s gonna step on you again

John Kongos, who isn’t known for much else, loops up some genuine African drumming (way before it was the thing to do) lays a groovy pop song on top and cracks the British Top 5 at a time (1971) when that was simply not an easy thing to do. Philip Random recalls first hearing it on his second trip to Britain. “Mid-90s. well on my way to getting drunk at a very old pub in Nottingham. My immediate thought was wow, somebody’s done a helluva job with that Happy Mondays song. Of course, I had it backwards.”

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952. beyond the valley of a day in the life

In which the Residents sample the Beatles and make such a glorious mess of things that rumours eventually surface that they are in fact The Beatles themselves, undercover. And all of this at least a decade before sampling-stealing-pirating in the name of art had even begun to achieve hip status. “I actually heard this when it was new in 1977. Not that I was remotely cool at the time, more the opposite. A friend’s big brother heard me talking loud about how progressive rock was the only music that really mattered, because it was so inventive, so ambitious, so strange … so he got me high and set me straight on the fact that there were far, far stranger things going on out there in the name of music than I ever could have imagined.”

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