“You can do a lot worse than calling The Who’s My Generation the first proper punk rock song. Because it really does have it all — teenage rage, power, angst, frustration, horniness, confusion, all erupting as a sustained declaration of … something that’s impossible to really put into words without f***ing stuttering off into guitar, bass, drums, distortion, explosions and sustained thunder from there out to the edges of the nine known universes, which is what happens in the best version, the 1970 Live At Leeds version that just keeps mutating and erupting for almost fifteen minutes, the band having grown over the years into a monstrous garage apocalypse of noise and negation that was nevertheless playing the biggest festivals, topping the highest charts, like the answer to the question: what happens if you cross a Mod with a supernova?
Such that maybe eight years later, an eternally frustrating late teenage night, nothing to do, nowhere to go, just me and my friend Doug, a 26er of Tequila, his dad’s Camaro and an 8-Track of Live At Leeds. It’s snowed recently, so we take it down to an empty mall parking lot and cut loose with power slides, fishtails, spinouts. True heavy metal thunder. Although it would’ve been truer if the Camaro didn’t have an automatic transmission. Which we fried. So we ditched the car, hiked home and let his dad report it stolen the next morning. We never did get caught. Although maybe fifteen years later Doug got busted for some kind of insider trading, then split the country while out on bail. One of these days, I guess I’ll get the full story, but I doubt I’ll be any less confused.” (Philip Random)
“It’s all in the title. Teenage Kickskicks like a f***ing teenager. In the best possible way. Or as The Who put it way back when, the kids are alright. They always are, they must be, such is the life force itself, all those eternal teenage hormones, hardons, heartbreaks, total havoc. The Kicks Must Continue or else seriously, why bother? And the thing is, you don’t have to be a teenager to get it. I wasn’t. I was twenty the first time I heard Teenage Kicks. And if my math is straight, so was Feargal Sharkey when he sang it, and John O’Neill when he wrote it. Power pop for the f***ing ages, I say. The Undertones were NOT a punk band. Yet in true stupid music biz fashion, I doubt it got played even once on commercial radio here in the Americas. And people wonder why I so deeply detest the f***ing Knack.” (Philip Random)
“The fourth Alice Cooper album, the one known as Killer, is as fine a slice of epic rock spectacle as the early 1970s delivered, and they delivered a lot. I distinctly remember the first time I heard it, at my friend Malcolm’s, who immediately went out and bought it when the news hit about a kid a few suburbs over who’d hung himself trying to imitate the ‘hanging trick’ pictured on the calendar found inside. The newspapers were all over it for a while. Fourteen year old boy kills himself because of Alice Cooper. Which, of course, is as deep as any adult ever went when it came to Alice. The pictures. Their loss, because there was nothing shallow about the music. Creepy, dynamic, erupting with grotesque passion and cool … particularly Halo of Flies. Apparently, it’s about espionage. Halo of Flies being an evil outfit working deep networks of counter-intelligence-terrorism-revenge-extortion-perversion, and thus they must be smashed. And our man Alice and his crowd of weirdoes are up to the task, whatever it takes, even a little Rogers + Hammerstein if needs be. Would’ve made a helluva movie.” (Philip Random)
The lead-off track from maybe the greatest album ever in the history of anything, Teenage Riot is where Sonic Youth get political, make their demands explicit as to what it’s going to take to get them the f*** out of bed and deliver the goods. A full-on teenage riot and nothing less. Which may be inappropriate, wrong even, but f*** is it fun to tear up Main Street, smash all the windows, not get caught! Which by the end of Teenage Riot is exactly what’s going on – Misters Moore and Renaldo annihilating frequencies with their magic guitars, smashing every window and door, setting all humanity free for a while. Even the adults. The rhythm section’s not half bad either.
When Queen’s second album arrived in 1974, it was unlike anything the world had ever heard, unless you’d heard the first one, which very few had. And Queen II was even more of all that — the full metal raunch of Led Zeppelin, the camp 19th Century operatics of Gilbert and Sullivan, the heartfelt harmonic longing of the Beach Boys, the brash pop adventuring of the Beatles, and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, and glam, and prog. And if you were fourteen or fifteen years old, still getting by on five or ten bucks allowance a week – what better album to to buy than the one that had EVERYTHING! In the case of March Of The Black Queen, it was all in the one song.
“The official Black Sabbath history lesson regarding Vol.4 seems to go something like this: after three albums inventing and defining what would eventually come to be the core of heavy metal, it was time for the band to expand their sound, roll with the progressive changes of the moment, get even bigger. But for me, thirteen when Vol.4 hit, catching random pieces on late night radio, it was just this deeply heavy stuff that seemed to capture everything that was weird and wrong with the world, but also kind of cool. Wheels of Confusion indeed, crushing anything that got in their way.” (Philip Random)
“In which Queen (before the world had a clue who they were) unleash an astonishing mix of heavy licks, mad harmonies and wild mood swings all in service of some high fantasy concerning a mythical Queendom called Rhye. Which, if you were fifteen years old and stuck in the mid-1970s confused about pretty much everything, was exactly what the Universe needed you to hear.” (Philip Random)
In which the Moody Blues go deep and wide and high, and remind us why they were once considered pretty darned cool. Philip Random recalls listening to Melancholy Man a lot while reading Lord of the Rings for the first time “… as a mostly uncool, pre-driver’s license teen with absolutely nothing better to do one long hot summer, stuck in somebody else’s cottage, there being only one even remotely decent album in the vicinity – This Is The Moody Blues (who knows how it got there?). I still think of Bilbo Baggins finally getting old whenever I hear Melancholy Man and I didn’t even know what melancholy meant at the time, just felt it anyway, all that deep sorrow and regret, particularly once the mellotron sweeps in for the kill.”
In which the Alice Cooper Group knock it out of the graveyard with a stirring epic toward the pleasures of necrophilia found on 1973’s hugely successful Billion Dollar Babies. “No question, this would’ve been my favourite song for at least three weeks when I was thirteen, almost fourteen. Though it’s actual meaning eluded me for years, because it never occurred to me that necrophilia was a thing, that people would actually do such stuff to get their rocks off. I guess, I just didn’t know people yet. Who says Alice was down on education? He was just way over our heads.” (Philip Random)