273. plastic people

“As a kid who hit his teens in the early 1970s, I sort of always knew about Frank Zappa and his Mothers and their various crimes against humanity, but I never really fell in love until I heard Absolutely Free toward the end of high school, Plastic People in particular, and how nastily, incisively, hilariously it skewered all the transparent, pre-fab zombies I walked the halls with, who I once thought of as friends, but now, they just seemed hard-wired for lives of desperate boredom, intent on becoming just like their parents, only worse, because normal always gets worse. Yet Plastic People is in fact not about suburbia 1977, but Los Angeles 1967, a grand piss take of pretty much everyone, even the hippies, and how there was plastic where their souls should have been. It was just that kind of town, I guess. Still is, apparently.” (Philip Random)

FrankZappa-1967-Absolutely

Advertisements

293. Spanish Bombs

“I liked Spanish Bombs from first listen, which would’ve been summer, 1980, bombing around suburbia in co-worker Gregory’s hot rod, London Calling being the only album I ever remember him playing. It was that kind of album. Still is, I guess. But Spanish Bombs wouldn’t truly land with me until about ten years later, a beach, a bonfire. Some girl I’d never met before grabbed an acoustic guitar and nailed it, nailed me. It was love at first sight, first chorus. Sort of. Because I’ve never seen her since. Except sometimes when Spanish Bombs comes on, like a ghost, I guess, lost in some mythical Andalusia.” (Philip Random)

Clash-1980-live

311. have you heard + the journey

“It was a summer party, a backyard thing, 1980 or thereabouts, the evening shifting sweetly into twilight, everybody else having gone inside leaving just me and the stillness, and the music, the stereo having been dragged outside earlier, various mixtapes coming and going, and now, miraculously, as though ordained from on high, the Moody Blues‘ epic and spacious finale to Threshold of a Dream, their third and best album — it suddenly seemed to contain everything, capture all the complexity of the moment in strange apprehension, like a painting, but not looking at it, being inside it. Definitely the threshold of something. The acid was kicking in.” (Philip Random)

MoodyBlues-1969-live

 

417. Soolaimon + Brother Love

“File Neil Diamond’s double live Hot August Night in the Everything You Know Is Wrong category, certainly if you considered yourself even halfway cool in 1972. Because here was a guy that moms liked unleashing one of the greatest live albums the world had ever heard, particularly the climactic side four, the climax of which was a medley of Soolaimon (originally found on Taproot Manuscript) and Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show (originally found on the album of the same name) but neither of those originals came remotely close to the drama-power-glory of what happened that hot august night, August 1972, LA’s Greek Theatre. I’d go deeper into it all but I know my words would quickly fail. The temptation is to say, you had to be there, except I wasn’t. I was in some suburban rec-room a year later, bored with Cat Stevens and Three Dog Night, fourteen years old and ready to be saved. For a few minutes anyway.” (Philip Random)

NielDiamond-1972-HotAugust-02

439. it was a very good year

“We’ve all gotta start somewhere. Before I got seriously hooked by the superlative noise of rock-roll-psyche-whatever-you-want-to-call-it (sometime safely before my tenth birthday in the form of The Beatles Revolution the shorter, sharper, nastier version), I only really cared for one so-called pop album:  What Now My Love, a 1966 chart topper from Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (who weren’t from Tijuana, they weren’t even Mexican). Because it was the only halfway modern slab of vinyl in my parents’ collection. And now it’s in mine, the same original record (proudly slotted between the Allman Bros and Amon Duul), because it’s actually pretty darned fine in a sangria-soaked suburban backyard barbecue sort of way. Smooth Latin rhythms and sunny day melodies and occasional gushes of rapture like the part at the end of It Was A Very Good Year when the strings come swooping in like the gods themselves. What sentimental eight year old (of any age) ever needed anything more?” (Philip Random)

HerbAlpert-1966

 

485. everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey

“Patrick Gallagher was my life’s first full-on Beatles fan. Every Christmas, he’d get a new Beatles album. In 1968, that meant the White Album, two records exploring all kinds of extremes, most of them miles over our tiny heads (his ten years old, mine nine). But we liked the monkey song. What kid wouldn’t like a monkey song? Even if it turned out to have nothing to do with monkeys at all, but was John Lennon’s take on the great and faultless Maharishi being a bit of a horndog, trying to get his hands on Mia Farrow’s ass, and how this didn’t seem to fit the man’s intimations of higher wisdom and humanity. Also, maybe heroin.” (Philip Random)

Beatles-1968-dog

522. F*** You G.I.

23 Skidoo being one of those outfits who define the notion of hard to pin down. F*** You G.I. being a heavy slab of polyrhythmic funk driven by a key sample from the legendary Do-Long Bridge sequence from Apocalypse Now. 1984 being nine years on from the Vietnam War’s official conclusion, but you could still feel the darkness, heat, horror, even if you were just out walking the family dog through the suburban shadows, Sony Walkman on, of course.” (Philip Random)

23skidoo-urbanG

643. meadows

Joe Walsh tends to get conveniently filed away as the fun loving stoner guy who eventually got scooped up by the Eagles and then whatever. But that misses the point that The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get is one of the genuinely best American albums of its time, and thus of all time, because albums are where it was at in 1973. The big hit was Rocky Mountain Way (speaking of fun loving stoner rock), but my fave will always be Meadows, one of those songs that sent this very young man wild and free, running through fields, leaping old stone walls. Dreaming about it anyway, as I was mostly stuck in suburbia at the time. Nice melody, killer guitar riff, but it’s the drums that still send me, the way they come crashing in like a flash flood, the kind that saves your life rather than ends it. Hallelujah.” (Philip Random)

JoeWalsh-1973-2

743. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

If you were a little kid in the 1960s and early 1970s, your life was full of this kind of stuff. Various pop orchestras taking on the hits of the day, delivering mostly average versions. But every now and then, someone got it just right, like Roland Shaw, whose take on the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service theme is punchier, more revved up, better than the original in pretty much every way. The perfect soundtrack for bombing around on your banana bike, rooting out all the evil geniuses who were plotting world destruction from their suburban lairs two blocks over.

BOND-majesty'sSecretService