“Any history of 1980s rock-pop-whatever that does not give Laurie Anderson her own chapter is wrong, and that accounts for most of them. Mister Heartbreak was her second proper album and it started strong with Sharkey’s Day, which I’m guessing is some kind of reference to the Burt Reynolds movie Sharky’s Machine that I never saw. But he was a cop and no doubt macho with corruption involved, and darkness all around. Temper of the times. Or maybe Sharkey’s Day has nothing to do with any of that. Maybe Ms. Anderson just saw the poster at some point, and something about it spoke to her – Burt Reynolds and his moustache and gun riding high at the box office, and everything that had to say about a culture. Where do you go from there?” (Philip Random)
“In which Sonic Youth muck around with drum machines and whatever, take the piss out of a Madonna song, turn it into a zeitgeist-defining masterpiece. At least, that’s what my friend Martin thought. And he was a loud guy, persuasive. Indeed, there was a brief chunk of 1989 when Into The Groovy really was the greatest record ever, in the history of all humankind. Why argue?” (Philip Random)
“In which Laurie Anderson reminds us that sometimes you’ve just gotta go with your intuition. If you see a guy and he looks like a hat check clerk, he is a hat check clerk. And everything that suggests. To which I must add, I have no idea what that is. And I doubt Laurie Anderson did either, early 1980s, just rolling with the zeitgeist which she was in the process of turning inside out with her strange gear and her stranger stories. And the pinks of the world are still trying to make sense of it. Stop making sense.” (Philip Random)
“The Jesus and Mary Chain seemed to come from nowhere way back when, that lost decade found somewhere within the mid-1980s. Something’s gotta f***ing give, the zeitgeist was screaming, somebody’s gotta take all this noise to its extreme edge, give us all a smug, punk sneer, call it music, cause riots, get arrested, sell records. In the case of You Trip Me Up, that meant taking a nice little la-la-la love song and plugging it into the end of the universe. Sometimes on late night radio, we’d play it at the same time as Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive, both channels maxed to eleven – like competing nuclear mushroom clouds. It had to be done.” (Philip Random)
The Catherine Wheel was David Byrne‘s first solo album, recorded while the Talking Heads were officially on hiatus. The soundtrack for a Twyla Tharp ballet, it stands as exhibit three of Byrne’s 1980-81 hat trick of zeitgeist defining genius (something he still hasn’t topped). The first two were collaborations with Brian Eno (the Talking Heads album Remain In Light, and then My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts) but Catherine Wheel was Mr. Byrne going it alone in the production/writing department. Eggs In A Briar Patch (and really the whole sweep of Dinosaur, The Red House, Weezing, Eggs in a Briar Patch and Poison) gets the nod here because of how effectively the convoluted path between song and atmosphere gets traversed, and all the cool mysteries thus uncovered.
It’s hard to put in context just how hot the band known as Yes were come 1972’s Close to the Edge, except just to say that a song as wired, as wild, as complex, as challenging, as virtuous as Siberian Khatru was pretty much required listening for anyone who was even half-serious about staying in touch with the zeitgeist. “I know where Siberia is. I have no idea what a Khatru is. Except to say it must have something to do with reaching for but not quite grasping the essence of all our striving, our yearning, our dreams – the Grail itself, holy and unfathomable. But careful way out there, you don’t want to fall off. The edge, that is.” (Philip Random)