The forced marriage in 1980 of prog-rock dinosaurs Yes and earworm popsters The Buggles was a strange thing that should not have worked. And maybe it didn’t, because they only ever released one album (which was credited to Yes, but they should’ve called themselves something else, because any band called Yes without Jon Anderson involved just feels very wrong, like a Beatles without John Lennon). But all that said, Drama (the album) can’t just be dismissed, if only for the possible future it speaks of that never happened – a musical decade that managed to both embrace the cool new synthetic pop options and the recent powerhouse progressive past. Like an odd sci-fi movie that only you remember, seen just once late at night on one of those scrambled Pay TV channels. Maybe Tuesday Weld was in it.
“Tight, hard, fast, and looking very good – nobody else sounded or looked or felt remotely like Roxy Music in 1973. That would have to wait five or so years. Then all kinds of people were sounding, looking, feeling like Roxy Music (in 1973). Unfortunately, Roxy weren’t anymore. They were getting all smooth and white-boy soulful, turning into a creature I was fast finding it hard to love. But that was okay. I was really just discovering 1973 anyway, and it was all for my pleasure.” (Philip Random)
“Donovan never really gets the credit he deserves for kicking the future into motion. I’ve said that already, I know. But seriously, here he is detailing an acid trip in all its cool-and-gone poetic glory at least half a year in advance of the Beatles Sgt Pepper. And better yet, he keeps the groove bluesy, the whole thing strutting comfortably along, the sunshine superman in full cosmic bloom. Nothing could stop him but a drug bust, which is precisely what happened.” (Philip Random)
“Cool and wigged out raver from Devo‘s second album, Duty Now For The Future, which the experts tell me is, at the very least, their second best. And certainly wiser words have seldom been spoken than ‘duty now for the future’. Because the past is done and the present merely is, but the future – that’s where the wiggle is. Not black or white, not straight up and down – a stranger thing, hard to grab, impossible to hold down. Which was Devo in a nutshell circa 1979, exactly as strange as they needed to be.” (Philip Random)
“Somehow I missed Wire completely the first time around. Three future inventing albums culminating with 1979’s 154 at which point they went their separate ways for a long while. Then came 1987’s Ideal Copy, which was way too good to not get curious about, which eventually led me back to 154 and the revelation that, holy sh**, this album invented the 1980s (sort of). The energy of punk driving something smarter, more abstract and intense, taking it way behind enemy lines. No wonder they needed a seven year break.” (Philip Random)
“Are Can still the greatest band that most people have never heard? Probably. If you are perhaps one of those, Future Days (song and album) is as good an entry point as any, marking both the peak and the end of their glory days. Not that they didn’t still have some great music in them post 1973, it would just never get back to such a strange and etherea peak. Because singer, vocalist, lead madman Damo Suzuki was slowly fading away, not to return. Like a bittersweet dream of the future that actually came true, because there I was, a good ten or twelve years after the fact, hearing it for the first time myself, and it was perfect, it was exactly what the mid-80s felt like. Living in the future, ready or not.” (Philip Random)
It’s 1973 and the times may be grim but the Temptations (and producer Norman Whitfield) are in full, expansive, beautiful bloom (riding as they are on the mega-success of 1972’s Papa was a Rolling Stone). But the focus now is not the past, but seventeen years into the future, the dawning of the 1990s, not that not much has changed. There still ain’t no justice.