22. Mountains

“As I once heard it put, if you’re not into Prince, you’re either racist or homophobic. Because if the 1980s had a Beatles, it was him, particularly up to 1988. Seriously, think about that run of albums: 1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in A day, Parade, Sign of the Times, The Black Album, Lovesexy. And then there’s all the b-sides and whatnot. Or in the case of Mountains, an extended version that isn’t so much a remix as a jam, expansive and epiphanous, like the mountains in question, I guess. The first few minutes are cool and expansive pop with a big beat, but then the genius truly takes over, takes groovy flight. Because by 1986, it was all getting proved on the dance floor, and nobody proved as often, with as much versatility, panache, invention, sheer gobsmacking talent and altitude as the skinny little mutherf***er called Prince.” (Philip Random)

(Morrison Hotel Gallery)

27. final solution

Final Solution equates unrequited lust and thermonuclear holocaust, then binds them with a title that can’t help but force reflection on the worst damned thing human beings have ever done. How punk is that? And all this from Cleveland, Ohio, 1976 before punk rock had even officially arrived in the Americas. The Pere Ubu crowd in full mad annihilation mode, simultaneously demolishing and inventing the future we all had coming, ready or not. Also, it’s basically a cover of Summertime Blues, one of rock and roll’s seminal protest songs, except these weirdos have exploded it into something far bigger and hungrier, ravenous even. In my idea of a perfect world, it would replace Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl at all weddings. And hell, play it at funerals too. Because who ever dies with all their problems solved?” (Philip Random)

58. the man whose head expanded

“I admit it. I never really gave Fall main man Mark E. Smith his proper due back in the day. But I had my reasons, mainly connected with the cult that seemed to spread up around him, which got particularly annoying as the 1980s dragged along (certainly in my narrow version of what passed for reality at the time). But that was then. Now there’s no arguing the guy had something genuinely fresh and cool mixed in with all the bile he was spewing. And to my ears, he never spewed it so well as The Man Whose Head Expanded, an assault rifle of a single that crossed my path in 1983 or thereabouts. Did I actually buy it? Or did Martin Q force it on me after one too many arguments, late night and accelerated, our heads definitely well expanded. Either way, tip of the hat to Martin for forcing the point, and to Mr. Smith just for being who he was-is-shall-always-be, good bad and ugly, because he will never die, I’m pretty sure, not with all those f***ing records kicking around.” (Philip Random)

124. just like heaven

I’ve never been one to buy many singles – something to do with coming of record buying age in the early 1970s, I guess, when albums were the thing. But every now and then, you’ve got to adjust your strategies. Like hearing Dinosaur Jr‘s planet killing version of the Cure’s Just Like Heaven on the radio one sublime summer day and immediately needing to own the record. But all I could find was a 7-inch. Which if I’d been truly cool would’ve triggered a whole new phase for me, 7-inches being all the rage as the 80s turned over into the 90s, particularly if you were into raw sort of proto-grunge indie-rock. But I’ve never really been into just one sound or attitude. It’s always been everything, if possible. Which to my mind (and heart) is what J Mascis and crew accomplish here, the kind of rapturous, all encompassing escape velocity that redefines reality forever … until it suddenly just has to stop.” (Philip Random)

169. Sister Morphine

Marianne Faithfull’s take on Sister Morphine is probably the best Rolling Stones record ever that most people haven’t heard, even if it’s not Mick singing and it’s not technically the Stones. Because Mick is apparently playing some guitar (along with Ry Cooder) and that’s Charlie on drums. Who knows where Keith is?  Probably on the nod. Which drives home the point. Marianne Faithfull gets the credit and she deserves it all the way, but Sister Morphine is very much a 1969 Stone-truth being imparted. It’s not the Summer of Love anymore. The drugs have gotten too heavy. Souls are being crushed. None of this is going to end well.

MarianneFaithfull-1969

(image source)

398. terror couple kill colonel

An early single provides strong evidence that Bauhaus were far more than just a goth outfit (the term didn’t even exist until after they’d split up). What they were was smart, innovative, never remotely boring, with Terror Couple Kill Colonel working all manner of studio exploration to get seductively under the skin, into the blood.

Bauhaus-1980-club

646. King of the Rumbling Spires

Apparently this is the first time Marc Bolan really rocked out on record. The band was still called Tyrannosaurus Rex at the time, and despite the name, a comparatively lightweight outfit – too much flowers and fine herbs, not enough thunder and rumbling. But that had to change. The 1970s were looming, the acid was wearing off, the hippie dream was much further away than it had previously seemed. Maybe it had never been there at all. Just another storybook fantasy.

TyrannosaurusREX-1969

648. indication

The story on the Zombies is that they’d broken up before their best stuff was ever even released. A classic case of being too far ahead of the curve as a track like Indication indicates, a pumped up ride with some killer keyboards at the heart of it all, and all months before the Beatles had gotten around to releasing Revolver. The upside being that we’ve never really grown tired of it.

Zombies-1966

698. death of a clown

Dave Davies being an original Kink, Death of a Clown being a darned fine single that featured big in the British version of the Summer Of Love. But I wouldn’t really notice it until at least the mid 1990s, working through my personal grunge aftermath where I’d listen to pretty much anything that wasn’t heavy, angry and in need of a clean shirt. Clown first showed up on a mixtape care of former roommate Dale, who stuck it right next to some John Coltrane, as I recall. The mid-90s were like that.” (Philip Random)

DaveDavies-1967