Monday, December 5, 2011

Countdown #3 - these things happen

(podcast available here – originally broadcast Dec-3-2011)  All comments are from Philip Random's notes.  The full countdown list (so far) can be found here.

Mark Stewart - these things happen
A friend of mine, Charles, met Mark Stewart in about 1989.  They were supposed to be talking soundtrack stuff for a movie Charles had on the go.  Which they did.  Except Mr. Stewart didn't think the movie, which concerned a darkly comic dystopic future, went nearly far enough.  "If you're going to do dystopia, do fucking dystopia.  Rising oceans taking out entire countries, chemical plants taking out entire cities, global thermo-nuclear war taking out everything else.  Have it all happen one Tuesday morning.  And then maybe zombies attack the survivors for comic relief.  Because if someone doesn’t make the fucking movie.  It will happen."  Or words to that effect.  And then they got very drunk.

Holger Czukay, Jah Wobble, Jaki Liebezeit - how much are they?
As the story goes, hooking up with Can's rhythm section (Holger Czukay bass, Jaki Liebezeit best drummer in the world) was the impossible dream for Mr. Wobble.  And then he fucked it up, blew all the advance cash Virgin gave him on drugs, alcohol, other stupid stuff.  He ripped off his heroes and didn't have the nerve to talk to them for years.  But they still made a hell of an album together.  Music's like that -- the shit it puts up with in the interests of getting itself conjured.

Midnight Oil – U.S. Forces
The Clash weren't officially broken up yet in 1983, but they should've been.  Which was leaving a huge hole to be filled.  Smart, reckless, politically charged anthems toward some at least not completely hopeless future – no one band could do it but maybe a dozen could.  Midnight Oil were one of them and 1983's 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 was as raucous, as angry, as good as they ever got.  Everyone too stoned to start a mission, People too scared to go to Prison.

Iggy Pop - Repo Man
To put it context … Harry Dean Stanton (all cranked up on speed, of course) is driving around with young Otto, spitting out the Repo Man code. Meanwhile, there's been a fender-bender in the distance and it looks like there's going to be a fight – ordinary people in tennis whites facing off in the middle of the street.  Harry Dean shakes his head, says, "Ordinary fucking people. I hate 'em!"  And the thing is, for me, it was an awakening. Because I too HATED ordinary people – all the bullshit normality that wanted to eat me.  And REPO MAN (like the punk rock that fueled it) gave this HATE a voice and focus ... in a kind of beautiful way.  Within a few years, people were referring to the mid/late 80s as The Winter Of Hate (twenty long years since the Summer Of Love when we'd all been cute little flower babies). Not that there wasn't any love in the 80s. Of course there was. But you couldn't really make sense of the 80s and your place in the scheme of it all (in North America anyway) until you owned your HATE.  Until you knew what to HATE.  Otherwise, you were just going to get eaten.

Fleetwood Mac - tell me all the things you do
Album cover shows two little hippie children playing outside a hippie kiln house with hippie trees and flowers, so benignly 1970.  Meanwhile, the main guy from the band, singer songwriter, guitar genius, Peter Green, had gone psychedelically AWOL, melted down, never to really return, leaving the rest of the band left to pick up the pieces.  That was the other side of the picture.  But Kiln House was a fine album.  Best Fleetwood Mac release of the 70s … until Lindsey + Stevie signed on and kicked things into cocaine supernova.  

Cat Stevens - 18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare)
It was an amazing thing.  Fall 1972, my friend Malcolm actually bought a Rolling Stone magazine, which if you've just turned thirteen in suburban wherereverland, barely out of the 60s, was akin to signing on with the Weather Underground, particularly that issue –  the one with Ziggy Stardust on the cover (aka David Bowie), the rock star who was a genuine homosexual faggot … or perhaps a spider from Mars.  We were confused on that point.  And anyway, that's not what I'm remembering here.  I'm remembering a live review from that Rolling Stone of a Cat Stevens concert.  He was neither homosexual or alien, but reviewer sure thought he was cool, particularly this one new song  called 18th Avenue that apparently blew the whole audience away.  But you couldn't just buy the single.  You had to buy the whole album called Catch Bull At Four, which I did once I'd saved the five bucks (it took a couple of weeks).  Another one of those turning points.  I was buying albums now.

New Order - ceremony
Spring 1980.  Word began to penetrate to my particularly dense suburbs of a band called Joy Divison.  Apparently, they were like a New Wave Doors.  Which is all I needed to hear.  I headed down to Quintessence Records cash in hand, prepared to doll it out for an import.  "Sorry," said the guy at the counter, "We're sold out since the guy killed himself."  Ouch.  Maybe a year later, we started to hear New Order, the band that rose from those ashes – cool and eerie, showing a glimpse of the future we all had coming, like something reflected in dark, unclean glass. 

Bourbonese Qualk - Boggy Creek
Bourbonese Qualk were early players in the so-called industrial scene.  Noise combined with music and, in this case, words concerning a place called Boggy Creek where there was rumored to be a monster or something.  They'd made a movie about it when I was a kid.  I still remember the TV ad.  Creeped me right out

Eric Burdon + War - beautiful new born child
In the very early 1970s, the only thing anybody was clear on was it wasn't the 60s anymore, and that's only because the date said so.  Eric Burdon's take on things included hooking up with the hottest band he could find in greater L.A. and declaring WAR.  In a nice way.  By the time their second album came out, Mr. Burdon, who'd lived the 60s the way you were supposed to (ie: well beyond the limit), was crashing and burning.  War, on the other hand, were just getting started, like a beautiful new born child.   

John Lennon - I don't wanna be a soldier
1971.  The Vietnam war was still dragging on, and even if it was going to end soon, everybody knew there'd be some new evil coming along soon to keep all the young boys busy tearing each other apart.  Yeah, Imagine was the big deal John Lennon song of the moment, all that pie-in-the-sky God-free utoptianism.  But I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier was selling a harder, louder truth … but kind of hypnotic as well.  They say the drugs were just better then.  

Neil Young - roll another number
This public service message comes from the Godfather of grunge himself.  Recorded in 1973 on the heels of various deaths in and around the band (Crazy Horse), not released until 1975 because everybody was just too fucking depressed.  Get stoned, says the song, go for a long drive that gets you reflecting on a recent events that seem much further away than they really are.  That's what the rear view's for.

Neil Diamond - Be
Neil Diamond had it all in 1973.  Millions of fans worldwide, great hair, even a slow building, grudging sort of critical respectability.  Because those recent live shows were just too strong to ignore.  So what does the man do with it all?  He dives deep, he reaches high, he gives his all to a soundtrack for a movie from a really dumb book about a seagull named Jonathon.  Yet even in falling, Icarus-like, he soars, as a page that aches for a word which speaks on a theme that is timeless.  Somebody had to do it.

Peter Gabriel - white shadow
Before he poured acid on his face and then shaved his head and eventually started hanging out with Rosanna Arquette, but after he quit Genesis because the hideously enlarged testicle costume had gotten too heavy to bear, Peter Gabriel was messing around with all kinds of possibilities, dragging his nails across chalkboards, seeking to reinvent.  He got very close to something here on his second album, the one produced by Robert Fripp.  What is a White Shadow?

Prince - I wish U heaven (extended)
Nice little ballad from the album Lovesexy becomes a full-on groove adventure in the remix process. Prince was like that in the 80s.  Everything he touched turned a brighter, more interesting shade of something, even his own already brilliant stuff.  And then came the soundtrack for the Batman movie.  That ruined everything.


1 comment:

  1. Got my copy of Lovesexy at A&B on Marine Drive, one of my first actual CDs. Cycled there from Richmond (sure, laugh), where the music stores generally didn't sell anything I was interested in and were more expensive. Was wondering why it was so cheap. Got home and found all the songs were one track. Not sure if this was a Prince concept or a mastering screw-up. Great music - nu-age funk, conceptual but laughing at itself at the same time, still packs a kick. Saw the show when it reached Vancouver as well.