23. relax [the long version]

“I first heard this astoundingly epic remix of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax at Vancouver’s best dance club ever, the Luv Affair. It would’ve been 1984, I guess, at a time that many were saying it was already past its true glory. Because the club had become too populated with so-called breeders, was no longer a strictly gay and/or bi and/or trans situation. But I’d argue this made 1984 its true peak, because of those breeders (myself included), because this was the moment when the various compulsions all balanced each other, when no particular tribe held sway, sexually, politically, spiritually, philosophically (am I missing anything here?), yet all were being heard.  Felt anyway. In the music. And holy f*** this was good music.

Not that Relax wasn’t profoundly, exquisitely, educationally gay (particularly the extended version). It actually coached us all on the exquisite pleasure of delaying orgasm, of NOT firing all the guns at once … which instantly made it political, because this was a moment in history when the overall consensus (among those who actually thought about things) was that some level of global nuclear cataclysm was no longer an ‘if’ but a ‘when’. Mere minutes to midnight on the doomsday clock. Yet Frankie seemed to be saying, we all just needed to Relax, that yes, we have this climax in us, wanting out, but the more we just lie back, relax, focus on our breathing, the better it all starts to feel. Like maybe the point isn’t to climax, but to find that spot just short of the edge, and ride it to eternity, sheer gushing pleasure to the ends of universe, the right kind of apocalypse. I distinctly remember thinking all this one night at the Luv Affair, dancing, LSD in my veins. And no, it wasn’t lost on me that there already was a gay apocalypse playing out, a horrific one, the one known as AIDS. Everybody knew somebody who was dying or already dead. Hell, we’d soon find the guy who was singing Relax was infected. But all this just catalyzed things, I think, amped the volume, everything to play (and dance) for. Hallelujah!” (Philip Random)

86. Je t’aime … moi non plus

“Apparently Je T’aime … moi non plus (the Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg version) was a big deal international hit way back when. Just not here in the Americas. Because the first time I was even aware of it was at least twenty years after the fact, and that would’ve been in the background somewhere, cool radio, maybe somebody’s mixtape at a backyard barbecue, people playing croquet in the foreground. But it did eventually hit me. It did stick. The kind of easy cool melody and pop fresh production that destroys time, transcends decades, and then there’s the subject matter and its rather unabashed eroticism. Or as my friend Angela once put it, ‘The French may have gotten a lot wrong when it came to rock and roll, but they sure knew how to do dirty without it coming across as unclean.’ What it was (and still is) is pretty much pop perfect to my ears and (special thanks to North America’s rampant Puritanism) still not overexposed hereabouts, thus allergy free. And for the record, Ms. Birkin would’ve been twenty-one when she recorded her vocal, so it’s all entirely legal.” (Philip Random)

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)

242. new mind

New Mind is the lead track from the Swans‘ fifth album Children of God, and thus the first real evidence that this band wasn’t just heavier than God and/or Lucifer (as their earlier, more resolutely murky stuff had proven), but probably better too – musically speaking. Because holy shit, what an powerful f***ing band! As for New Mind itself, I’m not sure I want to know what it’s about, except to say that it feels like the work of some angry god on a rampage, or maybe one of those Japanese movie monsters that tears an entire city to pieces due to some unexplained grievance. Or maybe it’s all that sex in our souls damning us to hell, which just doesn’t seem fair.” (Philip Random)

Swans-1987-live

678. the slider

“It seems that Motron and I are still arguing T-Rex . Electric Warrior (me) versus The Slider (him). And he’s not exactly losing with the title track, which, as with pretty much all T-Rexian gems, doesn’t make much sense lyrically until you decide it’s like those warnings you used to get on porn-films: completely concerned with sex. In other words, it was miles over my head when it was new. And so was I for that matter, glam being a strange and necessary thing to find lurking in the pubertal suburbs of the early 70s.” (Philip Random)

T-Rex-1972-2