“Speaking of Jesus and surrealism and full-on agit-prop satire, Christianity Is Stupid has to rate as one of Negativland‘s high water marks. I remember it being particularly useful roundabout Christmastime, 1987, peak of the so-called Winter of Hate observances. Which, I suppose, are best understood as the mirror opposite of 1967’s Summer of Love observances, neither being exactly what they were advertising. In other words, there was more than little fear and loathing caught up in all that overhyped San Francisco hippie shit (even if some of it was no doubt wonderful); likewise, there were traces of peace and love to be found in massively the under-hyped Winter of Hate (even if much of was deliberately abysmal). And whatever was going down (or perhaps up), Christianity is Stupid has to stand as one of its key anthems, a record you generally played at people (as opposed to for them). It even caused a proper controversy, which still seems to be playing out. And oh yeah, the whole damned album‘s a masterpiece. Assuming noise is your thing, interruption, interference.” (Philip Random)
“Of course 1987 would be a locust summer, being the midpoint between the two winters, 1987 and 1988, that would come to represent the full de-flowering of the so-called Winter of Hate, Current 93’s David Tibet being its sort of patron saint and/or hell demon. But seriously, this stuff is sinister for damned sure, but also mysteriously beautiful and heartfelt. Just because a man is pointing into the maw of Moloch does not make him an agent of Moloch – just a messenger, filing a missive on the topic of Apocalypse (ongoing) by way of wigged out folk music by way of deep and dark industrial sturm + drang, or as a friend put it late one psychedelic evening, ‘this neo-Christian-pagan rigmarole I can’t seem to get enough of.’ The album in question is called Imperium, and yes, it goes places.” (Philip Random)
Another argument in favour of the Dub Syndicate (the whole On-U Sound project in general) continuing to be one of the great overlooked items in recent cultural history. Seriously. In the case of Stoned Immaculate, that means you grab a sample of Jim Morrison waxing poetic about what it’s like to be way out there at the psychedelic edge, lay it over some suitably strong and mysterious dub and voila! It hits the cool zeitgeist of summertime 1991. A stupid war has ended and with it the so-called Winter of Hate, so maybe something new and beautiful is being born. The 90s did have that vibe … for a while anyway.
“The Electric Light Orchestra were an early fave of mine – big melodies, bigger production, like the Beatles by way of some overblown Hollywood fantasy from the 1930s … except unlike many of those fantasies, ELO was always in vivid colour. Over the years, of course, a lot of this pomp and electricity started to feel a little uncool, silly even, particularly as 1980s imposed, the Winter of Hate and its doomsday realities. Not much room for sunny fantasy anymore. But then a strange thing happened in the early 1990s, right around the time that the last Republican got turfed from the White House (for a while anyway) and the grunge thing got over-hyped (being serious getting taken way too seriously). ELO started sounding fun again, relevant even in some retro-cool ironic sort of way. Not that a song like 1975’s One Summer Dream had ever entirely lost its lustre. It was just too beautiful, like a summer afternoon in the middle of nowhere, looking out over an unknown lake with great birds soaring past and mountains in the distance. You’re sixteen years old and you know this is one of those moments that’s going to last forever.” (Philip Random)
Second of two in a row from the Swans, 1988 being the year that they gave us not one but two covers of everybody’s favourite suicidal love song, both actually quite good. Jarboe‘s version gets the nod here, because she’s got the nicer voice, and it’s more gentle. And we definitely needed some gentle niceness by the time 1988 landed, Winter of Hate in full effect. Not that Love Will Tear Us Apart could ever be mistaken for a song bereft of cataclysm.
“New Mind is the lead track from the Swans‘ fifth album Children of God, and thus the first real evidence that this band wasn’t just heavier than God and/or Lucifer (as their earlier, more resolutely murky stuff had proven), but probably better too – musically speaking. Because holy shit, what an powerful f***ing band! As for New Mind itself, I’m not sure I want to know what it’s about, except to say that it feels like the work of some angry god on a rampage, or maybe one of those Japanese movie monsters that tears an entire city to pieces due to some unexplained grievance. Or maybe it’s all that sex in our souls damning us to hell, which just doesn’t seem fair.” (Philip Random)
“The first thing I ever consciously heard of My Bloody Valentine was Andy Weatherall‘s 12-inch remix of Soon. And it was good, immediately figuring in all the mixtapes I was making at the time, 1991 being a serious watershed year for me. I’d taken the baleful rage and angst of the 1980s further than most, and loved it often as not. But now it was time for a change, and here it was, often as not lyrically vague as it was musically expansive, like 1960s psychedelia all over again, only bigger, richer, pumping cool light and amazing colours. And then the album Loveless showed at the year’s end, and I finally heard the actual original version of Soon, and holy shit, it was everything I could’ve imagined, only more so, the future having arrived.” (Philip Random)
“A hell of a song from a hell of a band that, for whatever reason, didn’t rise up and become insanely huge. Their first album in particular managed to be heavy and cool and entirely necessary without really sounding like anything anybody else was doing at the time. Which was perhaps the problem. Sons of Freedom were unique … in 1988 anyway. The biz just didn’t know what to do with them. Jump ahead three or five years and I suspect things would have played out differently. But then I would’ve been denied Alice Henderson when I needed it. Winter of 1988 into 89. Did it ever stop raining bullshit? Only when the music played.” (Philip Random)
Not to be confused with the 1984 album of the same name, this Julian Cope world stomper spoke a truth that was rather impossible to ignore in 1986. Anger, bile, spite were all officially virtues now if you wanted to survive. It was the Winter of Hate after all. Everybody who was even half alert was shouting down the world, demanding it shut the f*** up. Not that the world was listening. But that just meant we could shout louder, louder, louder. No limit. Which made for some great music if nothing else.