Wire’s 154, released in 1979, has been hard to ignore with this list, being one of those albums that helped invent the future, gave birth to all manner of sounds and textures that would come to define the decade known as the 1980s, which is now ancient history, of course. But 154 continues to stand up, songs usually as sharp and short as they are lyrically obtuse. Though A Touching Display goes the other way with a vengeance – an epic and passionate display of song as weapon, particularly as things erupt past the midpoint, like a bomber the size of a football stadium off to deliver a payload that would destroy the known world. And it did.
The Final Countdown* is Randophonic’s longest and, if we’re doing it right, most relevant countdown yet – the end of result of a rather convoluted process that’s still evolving such is the existential nature of the project question: the 1297 Greatest Records of All Time right now right here. Whatever that means. What it means is dozens of radio programs if all goes to plan, and when has that ever happened?
Installment #21 went like this:
896. Jonsi vs Tiesto – kaleidoscope ne
895. Drugstore – el presidente
894. Boo Radleys – wish I was skinny
893. Wire – I am the fly
892. Magnetic Fields – All My Little Words
891. Dusty Springfield – no easy way down
890. Prince – pop life
889. Grateful Dead – box of rain
888. Age Rings – Caught Up in the Sound
887. Blur – trimm trabb
886. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Spanish Dance Troupe
885. Van Morrison – the way that young lovers do
884. Arno – knowing me knowing you
883. Howlin’ Wolf – moanin’ at midnight
882. Dub Syndicate – stoned immaculate
881. Material – memory serves
880. MGMT – Siberian breaks
879. Sally Oldfield – water bearer
978. National Health – squarer for Maud
Tracks can be found on this Youtube playlist (not entirely accurate).
Randophonic airs pretty much every Saturday night, starting 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and/or download options usually available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook page.
The fourteenth 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.
14. Voodoo + Fish
T-Rex – cosmic dancer
Sugarloaf – chest fever [prelude]
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – crossfade
Moebius Plank + Neumeir – speed display
Agitation Free – Sahara City
Riuchi Sakamoto – kachakuchanee
Colin Newman – fish-9
Colin Newman – fish-3
Clinic – Voodoo Wop
Mott the Hoople – original mixed up kid
John Martyn – glistening Glyndebourne
David Sylvian – incantation
? – a very big marsh
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.
“In which the band known as Wire deliver the future circa 1979 from one of the great albums. Call it power pop, I guess, all angles and perhaps cold light. As for the map reference, I looked it up. It’s a placed called Centerville, Iowa, for no reason I can grasp … other than being the absolute center of Absolute Middle America (speaking of psychic topography here), which is about the last place you’d expect something like Map Ref 41°N 93°W to ever be a hit. Certainly not in 1979.” (Philip Random)
“A tight modern pop song with the kind of sharp, icy edge that defines a sonic future for all mankind. Which is pretty much what Wire did in 1979 with 154 (one of the greatest albums of any time) and songs like the 15th. Hell, I didn’t even hear it until at least five years later, called up the DJ because I had to know what this cool new song was.” (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 took a seven year break.” (Philip Random)
“Speaking of Wire, I finally paid attention to them in 1987 when, after more than seven years doing various solo and other things, the four original members recombined with the The Ideal Copy (and some dynamite single-only releases). Ambitious gets the nod here because it’s more or less the title track, and it does a sharp, tidy job of touching on all manner of essential 1980s topics such as paranoia, the Cold War, competing intelligence agencies and, of course, the ever present end of the world.” (Philip Random)
“I realize it’s not cool to prefer REM’s cover of Strange to Wire’s original, but who even heard Wire’s first three albums when they were new? Not anyone I was hanging with. So to me, REM’s more jangly, more rocking, more fun take is the original. And given that it comes from 1987’s Document, that means they’re at their pre-mega-mainstream peak. Still suitably artful and obscure, but beginning to enunciate.” (Philip Random)
The Twelve Mixtapes of Christmas have got nothing to do with Christmas (beyond being a gift to you) and they’re not actually mix tapes, or CDs for that matter – just mixes, each 49-minutes long, one posted to Randophonic’s Mixcloud for each day of Twelvetide (aka the Twelve Days of Christmas).
The mixes are in fact remnants of an unfinished project from a few years back that had something to do with compiling a playlist for an alternative to Alternative Rock (or whatever) radio station. To be honest, we’re not one hundred percent clear about any of it because somebody spilled (what we hope is) red wine on the official transcript, thus rendering key parts illegible.
Bottom line: it’s five hundred eighty-eight minutes of music covering all manner of ground, from David Bowie to Bow Wow Wow to Tuxedomoon to Claudine Longet, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Captain Beefheart, Aphrodite’s Child, Tom Jones, Marilyn Manson, Ike + Tina Turner, anything and everything, as long as it’s good.