6. only shallow

“Unlike pretty much everything else found on the My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless (which don’t get me wrong, I truly love), Only Shallow actually begins to hint at what this outfit conjured live, in a big room, with a big PA. By which I mean, maybe My Bloody Valentine in Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom, July-7, 1992 wasn’t the greatest f***ing show ever (that’s still probably Yes, 1975, the Relayer tour, because whatever blows your mind when you’re fifteen is always going to be the The Best). But My Bloody Valentine in the Commodore, 1992 was definitely the last show I’ll ever need to see. And hear.

Because that Commodore situation was proof of concept — that so-called rock music (or whatever you want to call it) really can rearrange molecules or atoms or neutrons or whatever the stuff of so-called reality actually is. Because handled correctly, these vibrations, this organized sound, this music really is the stuff of the gods. And those who deny it (for instance, the 500 or so folks who didn’t stick around for the whole gig that night), well, they can have the so-called real world, the real estate, the mortgage payments, the lawyers and accountants …. It occurs to me, I have no conclusion for this thought. I’m still confused, I guess. Years after the fact and I’m still looking for words to describe what happened that night, and I wasn’t even that high. Just a few tokes before the band came on, and then I guess I forgot. I got teleported, I got rearranged. In the meantime, there’s the album known as Loveless, the lead-off track known as Only Shallow which, on the right sound system, at the right volume, you maybe just begin to understand.” (Philip Random)

39. Würm

“Second of two in a row from Yes’s early 1970s glory years, though Würm is technically only part three of 1971’s Starship Trooper, which I figure most people probably have heard in one way or another. But probably not the longer, bigger, vaster 1972 live version, which truly takes off at its standalone climax – the Würm in question here. The album in question is the six sided monster known as Yessongs which was my proper introduction to Yes, the first album of theirs I actually owned. Talk about starting big. And even to this day, I have no problem arguing that at least four of those sides are a waste of nobody’s time, proving beyond any doubt that even as this crowd sometimes chased their high and mighty conceptual concerns perhaps a little (or a lot) too far, they always did it from a foundation of solid ROCK. With Würm’s deceptively simple, ever expanding power exhibit A in that regard.” (Philip Random)

40. close to the edge

“So here we are, decades after the fact and it’s still difficult to discuss the music of the band known as Yes without somehow disparaging it as overwrought, pretentious, guilty of trying too hard. To which I say, f*** that (unless you’re talking about their later stuff – the 1980s and beyond, some of which I’m pretty sure is on perpetual repeat in hell’s jukebox). Because the good stuff, the grand stuff, the vast and virtuous and ambitious stuff of their early-mid 1970s phase, we need that stuff, particularly Close To The Edge (the song and the album, but particularly the side long song). Because it’s true, I think, the edge isn’t a place, the edge doesn’t exist. You’ve either gone too far and you’re falling the long fall into oblivion, or you’ve found that sweet spot just short of it where everything opens up. All those BIG unifying passions and ideas that have been floating in and around you since before puberty even – the idea of indivisibility. Jehovah and Allah and Jesus and Muhammad and Krishna and every known and unknown god or whatever, all one big happy. Bigger than any cathedral, that’s for sure. Because every church, every creed, every ideology gets it wrong the instant it claims to have gotten it all right. Because even if you have vast chunks of the truth, you can’t have it all. It’s the nature of it, beyond mortal comprehension. So the very claim of TRUTH divides us, sets loose corrosive elements, brings the f***ing roof down.

Which is what’s going on in the middle of Close To The Edge, I think, the part where the church organ kicks in. That’s the capital T Truth failing. That’s the cathedrals all collapsing, and the mosques, the temples, the synagogues. That’s the outside crashing in, the inside gushing out. Now that you’re saved, now that you’re whole. Seasons will pass you by. You get up. You get down.  It’s all so clear once you stop trying to make sense of it. Just smoke a doob, put on the headphones, stretch out and let it all be … for eighteen and a half minutes anyway. Maybe the best damned band on the planet. Ever. Or certainly close to it. Hell even Led Zeppelin had to be looking over their shoulders by 1972. Because Yes simply had more going on. Hell, they had Rick Wakeman and his mountainous stacks of keyboards, conjuring choirs and orchestras and all manner of big and mysterious colours and textures and everything really, or damned close to it anyway. As close as anyone got at the time, and maybe ever since. Because has there ever been another time like it? We were definitely close to something.” (Philip Random)

72. mongoloid

Mongoloid rates high indeed because it’s the first punk tune that ever truly grabbed me, even if some have argued (and no doubt continue to) that Devo weren’t Punk, they were New Wave, to which I just fire back a big WHATEVER. It would’ve been 1978 because Tormato, the latest Yes magnum opus, had been released, except it was neither magnum or opus. But I loved it anyway being a fan. But not my friend Carl, who made a point of removing Tormato from the turntable mid-song (the one about a UFO as I recall) and slapping down Devo’s first album in its place … which proceeded to make an impression. Particularly Mongoloid. Just the whole nasty punk idea of it – a wound up anthem about some guy who was a mongoloid. How perverse was that! And yet fun. Because it was. Unlike the Yes. But Yes weren’t aiming for fun, I tried to argue, they were fixed on something more complex, important. Carl just smiled and played Mongoloid again. By the third time through, I was air-guitaring.” (Philip Random)

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125. buffalo gals

“I’m pretty sure the first time I heard what came to be known as rap music was 1982, Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five. To my ears, it was just another pop-gimmick, albeit a pretty cool one. Big funky groove with some hip rhyming on top. But jump ahead a few months and no less than Malcolm McLaren (who’d previously helped invent the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols, if you believe his bio) seemed to be singing (for lack of a better word) this new form’s praises. But it wasn’t just about the rhyming and grooving now, it was also the sampling (not that we’d heard that word yet), grabbing beats and pieces from wherever you could find them (some local NYC radio DJs, an old funk 45, a square dance album, some high school girls having a blast, the backstreets of Soweto), and just sort of jamming everything together, smacking it all around, somehow squeezing out what might be called a song, the weird and wonderful part being that it worked. In fact, I’ll always remember the party where I first heard Buffalo Gals, a friend’s place, everyone trying to get excited about Elvis Costello or whoever and suddenly this other tape got put on. So weird and fun that all you could do was dance to it. And then the album Duck Rock showed up to drive home the point that whatever was going on, it wasn’t just some one-off. Having ex-Buggle and Yes man (and future Art Of Noise instigator) Trevor Horn in the producer’s chair† may well have been a factor.” (Philip Random)

162. liar

Liar‘s the first Queen song I ever heard. Grade Nine, a tinny little radio in my bedroom, I was probably doing homework. And suddenly there it was, knocking me spiraling out of orbit (in a damned good way) like something from Jesus Christ Superstar, except without any Jesus involved, thank God. Just the trials of tribulations of some guy who’d done too much lying and now there was hell to pay. But it was the band that had me floored – all the power and stomp of Black Sabbath mixed with the epic sweep of somebody like Yes, and a singer (or was there a whole choir?) who didn’t seem to know any limits at all. Of course, I had to tell everybody about it at school the next day, but most of them just laughed. A band called Queen? What were they? Fags? Jump ahead a couple of years and I’d be thoroughly vindicated. Queen would be mega by then, with even the football jocks trying to hit Bohemian Rhapsody’s high notes. Except I didn’t really care about Queen anymore by then, they’d peaked already with their first three albums. Or maybe they never really got past Liar, that part toward the end where the riff lands heavier than metal and then the bass goes rampaging off into a whole new dimension (take a bow, John Deacon, you never get enough credit) and then one more chorus of ‘liars’. It still gives me chills. Sometimes anyway.” (Philip Random)

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192. sound chaser

“Maybe you had to be there like I was, fifteen years old, opening song of Yes’s 1975 Relayer tour. Stravinksy’s Firebird suite crescendos, the curtains part, and holy f***ing WOW!!! Call Sound Chaser an intervention. The gods themselves imposing on my affairs. Ecstatically so. Like the Apocalypse itself, but in a good way. Like these musicians, these sorcerers, weren’t really playing this music, they were conjuring it, shaping and turning and chasing this superlative noise that just kept bubbling over, ricocheting all around, setting even the atmosphere on fire. Or as my old muso friend Robert once put it, Sound Chaser‘s the one where Yes finally got to that edge they’d been aiming for, flirting with, singing about –  not close, not over, but right the f*** on it. Maybe not their greatest achievement, but definitely their sharpest, fiercest, most dazzlingly precarious. Like a gauntlet thrown down. This is where music must go. Here are untold galaxies for us to explore. Except I guess most of us were looking the other way, or maybe just afraid. Because disco came along, and punk, and whatever else, and somehow we stopped with the progress, and that was that, mission abandoned, lost in the vastness of space.” (Philip Random)

The 12 MixTapes of Christmas [2018 version]

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These 12 Mixtapes of Christmas have got nothing to do with Randophonic’s other 12 Mixtapes of Christmas from two years ago, or even 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).

There’s no particular genre, no particular theme or agenda being pursued, beyond all selections coming from Randophonic’s ever expanding collection of used vinyl, which continues to simultaneously draw us back and propel us forward (sonically speaking) — music and noise and whatever else the world famous Randophonic Jukebox deems (or perhaps dreams) necessary toward our long term goal of solving all the world’s problems.

Bottom line: it’s five hundred eighty-eight minutes of music covering all manner of ground, from Roy Orbison to Curtis Mayfield to Can, Bob Dylan, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Kraftwerk, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and beyond (and that’s just from the first mix) — anything and everything, as long as it’s good.

325. perpetual change

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the original 1971 studio recording of Yes’s Perpetual Change. It just doesn’t go as far as strong as gobsmackingly wow!!! as the 1972 live recording that showed up on the triple live set Yessongs. Because they really do set the atmosphere on fire here, one of the last tracks ever recorded with drummer Bill Bruford, so yeah, the classic Yes lineup (my version of it anyway), which does need to be raved about if only for that point maybe halfway through Perpetual Change where the band are effectively playing two completely different songs at the same insane time, and it works, finally blowing off into a feedback overload that quickly segues into a Jon Anderson vocal harmony, and then BAM!!! into an extended outro, the tightest band on the planet at the time (seriously, even Led Zeppelin had to be looking over their shoulders in 1972) bouncing back and forth from improvised bits to insanely abrupt changes, on and on, higher and deeper until the only real flaw, which is the overextended drum solo (not bad, just not necessary). As a musician friend once put it, Perpetual Change is the secret to everything that was great about Yes, because they were perpetual change (up until around 1975 anyway), not just evolving from album to album, but within the songs themselves. Everything was possible and they had the smarts (and the chops) to make it so.” (Philip Random)