“Because sometimes the music just needs to be BIG. And who better to lay it all down than the band that put a name to such stuff, The Waterboys, who yes, as a matter of fact, were more relevant than U2 in the power and passion realm come the mid-1980s. Because in main man Mike Scott, they had a proper a poet on board, and thus more colours, clearer visions, greater incision. At least that was the argument a few months ago. This Is The Sea (album and song) versus The Unforgettable Fire (album and song), both high water marks, no doubt, but Waterboys had more of it, whatever it is, because water beats fire every time. I guess. What I can easily say now, many years after the fact, is that the album (and band) that still speaks to me is the outfit that Mr. Scott put together way back when, because unlike U2, he found a way to haul on the reins at just the right moment, stopped the whole mad and beautiful thing from charging off into the abyss of fame and ridiculousness which, I figure, mainly meant not losing focus, making sure the music and poetry that infused it remained bigger than all other concerns. Or something like that. Because like the song says, this ain’t no brook, no creek, no river even, this is this, as big as it gets. Bigger than words anyway.” (Philip Random)
“In which John Lydon (aka Rotten) conducts a mid-1980s re-imagining of the concern known as Public Image Ltd, engages with the likes of Bill Laswell, Ginger Baker, Stevie Vai etc, and blows more than a few minds. The album is called Album (of course), with Rise the big (almost) hit single. It’s about Apartheid apparently, but to my ears, it’s concerned more with anger itself, and its inherent elemental energy. Like wind or electricity or the stuff of split atoms, the question quickly becomes not, should we have it (fact is, we do and it ain’t going away), but what should we do with it? Get drunk and wail on some guy down at the pub, or maybe get it focused, turn it into a laser beam that destroys an empire, frees slaves, saves children from lives of boredom and futility? Not bad for a punk.” (Philip Random)
“If there’s a typical Cure track, the extended (BIG) mix of Never Enough is not it. What it is, is truth in advertising. In other words, big. So much so that I’m going to suggest that its keen sense of pumped up sonics pretty much defined the near future of rock infused pop (yes, champions of U2’s Achtung Baby which came out a good year later – I’m talking to you). As for the song itself (which never showed up on a proper Cure album), it’s just more evidence that when it comes to a certain kind of delirious desire put to pop, Robert Smith has few equals. And you can dance to it.” (Philip Random)
The seventeenth of a planned forty-nine movies (without pictures), each forty-nine minutes long, featuring no particular artist, theme or agenda beyond boldly going … who knows? Or as Werner Von Braun once put it, “Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.” And we definitely have no idea where all this will take us.
17. Invisible Cities
Tom Waits – clap hands
Fred Frith – Navajo
Invaders of the Heart – good ghosts + invisible cities
DS Crew – frontier
Passengers – Plot 180 
Love + Rockets – all in my mind [acoustic]
Bauhaus – exquisite corpse
Olivia Tremor Control – late music 1
James – DVV
Man – c’mon 
Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark – architecture + morality
Can – Come sta, la Luna
Further installments of the Research Series will air most Sundays at approximately 1am (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with Mixcloud streams usually available within twenty-four hours.
This gem came out just before Joshua Tree, U2’s The Edge doing some soundtrack work, bringing in an unknown named Sinead O’Connor to sing a lead vocal so strong it inspires thoughts of an alternate pop-history, where U2 never goes supernova. Instead, they break up for whatever reason, Bono runs off and joins Van Halen, and the Edge sticks with young Sinead. They end up going to the Vatican, overthrowing the Pope and ruling the world. Satan (who it turns out was David Lee Roth all along) retires and moves to Calgary. A thousand years of peace ensue, except in Alberta.
“The Big Music is the first Waterboys song I ever heard and it didn’t do much for me. It felt too on the nose, and anyway, wasn’t Big Music U2’s thing? But a decade slipped past and I guess I found it serving a different purpose. More of a statement of intent (from Mike Scott in particular) than some half-baked U2 rip-off. Because the Waterboys had since proven themselves entirely their own unique beast, and pagan at that, like the wild crash of surf on a northern shore, at sunset, everything turning blood red. I actually saw that happen once, off Ireland, while listening to a different Waterboys track. Proof that gods exist, and here they were showing off at the edge of things. And they’re still at it, by the way. The Waterboys, that is. I can’t speak for the gods.” (Philip Random)
“Two in a row from way the hell back in the U2 story (and as eventually found on the R.O.K. 12″), way before all the fame and riches and boredom. My boredom, that is. I blame Joshua Tree. Though I guess it wasn’t the songs so much as the environment. U2 just weren’t as good anymore in those huge stadiums. Give me the Commodore Ballroom any day, 1981, three dollar ticket, maybe a thousand curious punks and new wavers. I’m pretty sure they did Eleven O’Clock Tick Tock as the encore that night, and the whole show actually began with The Ocean. But either way, the place went mad. Or as a friend said at the time, it’s like they weren’t playing songs, they were playing us, the audience. The songs were what we sounded like. He’d dropped acid.” (Philip Random)
By 1989, Public Image Ltd weren’t exactly redefining the zeitgeist anymore. In fact, it’s arguable they weren’t really a band anymore – just John Lydon‘s personal project. Which, in the case of Warrior, seemed to be about proving that he could rock at least as big as U2 (or whoever) and succeeding, with the best version a remix that’s now almost impossible to find, probably because of the sample of Old Lodge Skins himself laying down his humble but fierce warrior prayer.