181-80. P-funk wants to get funked up + night of the thumpasorus people

“Two in a row from Parliament’s 1975 Mothership Connection, because sometimes more is more. I vaguely remember skimming through a book a friend foisted on me a while back that had something to do with all the sci-fi imagery and metaphors inherent in certain cool African-American musics (specifically the likes of Sun Ra, Lee Scratch Perry, George Clinton and the whole Parliament-Funkadelic crew). It was way too academic, probably some guy’s thesis, and thus it lost me. Or I lost it. I can barely remember any of it, except maybe the notion that a spaceship could be seen as the opposite of a slave ship (the vehicle that might finally take them home to a new Africa of the future, not the lost one of the past … or something like that). What I do remember very well is seeing Parliament (or was it Funkadelic?) on TV back in 1976 on one of those Friday night concert shows they used to have. It was one of the tours where they had an actual spaceship land on stage, great clouds of smoke and lights, and, of course, the music itself care of a band umpteen strong and powerful. Like an alien invasion straight to the marrow of my narrow, white bread suburban soul. And thus my universe was changed. But good luck actually finding any of the records down at the local mall. Cool funk just didn’t travel that far north and west in the mid-70s. In fact, it would take me decades to finally track down a vinyl copy of Mothership Connection, some things being well worth waiting (and searching) for.” (Philip Random)

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183. it’s a rainy day, sunshine girl

 

“I don’t often brag about specific albums I own. But holy sh**, how cool am I to have a mint 1972 Japanese pressing of Faust‘s So Far with 12-page booklet intact! And I paid less than ten bucks for it. Which would all be pointless blather if the music itself didn’t deliver. Which it does, So Far being an album of strange and extreme moods and sidetracks (some might call it noise) with It’s A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl either a #1 pop hit in another, cooler, far weirder and better universe (where Faust really were The German Beatles) , or just a long brash walk along a certain razor’s edge – where genius actually touches stupidity, but it never falls in, even when the saxophone finally arrives past the six minute point, out of tune, of course.” (Philip Random)

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371. two-headed boy

Neutral Milk Hotel‘s 1999 album, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea gets a special nod here for giving us the most recent selections on the list. Though it should be noted that the entire decade of the 1990s is rather woefully neglected mainly because Philip Random had mostly stopped buying new vinyl by then. “CDs were the thing at first, and then mp3s. But something about In The Aeroplane Over The Sea – I just had to have it in full twelve-inch form. And not just for the cover, though it’s a hell of a cover. Nah, it just didn’t feel right unless I was getting some vinyl hiss and ticks, like a throwback to those times when the blemishes mattered. The blemishes always matter, which main Neutral Milkman Jeff Mangum makes clear every time he opens his mouth and thus his soul, young man with a whole new way of turning breath to voice. And the whole album’s strong. Not an unnecessary moment. Including the few seconds it takes to flip it over between sides.”

NeutralMilkHotel-art

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

 

487. earth [gaia]

“You’ve probably noticed there’s not much stuff from the 1990s on this list even though the cut-off date is officially summertime 2000. That’s because I generally didn’t buy new vinyl past about 1989. Is this fair to the 1990s? No. And I’m sorry about that. This list is not fair. This list is not definitive. Yet it would be incomplete without some Orb, from 1991’s The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, because I had to have that one on vinyl, all four sides of it, something I could look at BIG and spread out, while it played BIG and spread out, not unlike the entirety of the universe, known and otherwise.” (Philip Random)

Orb-UltraWorld

680. strawberry letter 23

“The Brothers Johnson being one of those bands that I pretty much missed completely during my white bread suburban youth … except somewhere along the line, Right on Time slipped into my stacks of vinyl. And it’s all very nice, groovy and smooth, but then Strawberry Letter 23 comes along and takes things to a whole other level of cool and soulful invention. Music you can taste as well as feel.” (Philip Random)

BrothersJohnson

751. leaving this town

The only Beach Boys track on the countdown list is as good a time as any to reference the guidelines, the key ones in this case being A. if Philip Random didn’t have it on vinyl as of August 2000, it doesn’t matter how good it is, the song doesn’t qualify, and B. it has to be something the average person probably hadn’t heard (also as of August 2000 – a few of these tracks have since gained some much deserved notoriety), which means no chart-toppers, no inescapable big deal pop items already played lots on commercial radio and/or heard in commercials themselves, or in big deal movies or TV shows, or video games, or in any other way already exposed out there in the culture. So, in the case of the Beach Boys, we only get one selection, “… the easy, breezy, really quite cool Leaving this Town (found on 1973’s Holland), because everything else I’d care to share has either A. proven impossible to find on vinyl at non-ridiculous collectors prices, or B. popular enough already.” (Philip Random)

BeachBoys-Holland

954. Holland 1945

“The cut-off date for this list is officially August 2000, because that’s when I started putting it together. You’ve probably noticed there’s precious little in the way of 1990s stuff on it. This is because it’s an all vinyl apocalypse I’m exploring here and I pretty much stopped buying new vinyl in 1989, mainly because that’s when CDs pretty much took over (for worse more than better, I’d argue, but that’s a whole other tangent). One album I did have to buy on vinyl was 1998’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. Because the cover’s a damned fine work of art, so I wanted it big, and because it just had to be heard in analogue form, with hisses and crackles, and all manner of other fat imprecisions thundering up my ear canals. And, in the case of Holland 1945, all that semen staining the mountaintops.” (Philip Random)

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