Sunday, February 12, 2012

Countdown #9 - I hear the rain

(Broadcast Feb-11-2012 - podcast available here).   All comments are from Philip Random's notes.  The full countdown list (so far) can be found here.  Links are not necessarily to the exact same recordings that got played on-air, but we tried.  We also tried to link to things that don't have commercials attached to them, but that changes sometimes with YouTube.

Jerry Harrison - worlds in collision
Even Adolph Hitler gets his two cents worth in this one – not that I'm up on the translation.  Worlds in collision indeed.  That's what the 1980s felt like – one long build-up to yet another war-to-end-all-wars, except it never really came, because the last one left us with split atoms and the gates of hell opened wide.  And enough people in seats of great power seemed to remember.  So we just hung around at the edge for a while, didn't like the view, stepped carefully back.  But what about next time when maybe there are no old men left who remember?  There's fuel for your nightmares.   

Arthur Brown - nightmare
We all know that I-am-the-God-of-HELLFIRE song -- crazy guy wailing over a kickass band, bringing a little heat to all that 1968 flowers-in-your-hair psychedelia.  But what was the rest of Arthur Brown's stuff like?  It took me a good thirty years to hear the rest of the album and find an answer:  more of the same, except more so.

New York Dolls - private world
Note the date on this album.  1973.  Lots of talk (in these notes among other places) about punk-BEFORE-punk, but in terms of that raw mix of decadence, sleeze, lo-fi grime and give-a-fuck directness, I'm arguing it all starts here with the glam punks from NYC who didn't just put on a little makeup, they wore dresses.  And they rawked.  Of course, it was better part of a decade after the fact before I finally heard them properly, put the whole thing together.  It's not like they were getting heard much in the suburbs.  

Frijid Pink - house of the rising sun
I would've been ten, maybe eleven when this version of House of the Rising Sun first caught my ear via a jukebox up on Grouse Mountain.  The word HEAVY comes to mind.  HEAVIEST thing I'd ever heard, except maybe Jimi Hendrix, which is who I thought it was for a few years.  Because no way was I going near that jukebox to find out, surrounded by surly teenagers with long, greasy hair, blood dripping from their mouths.

David Bowie - look back in anger
A ripping bit of genius from 1979's Lodger, that mostly overlooked Bowie album that came between Heroes and Scary Monsters (the one where he's dead on the cover).  Disco was dying.  Punk and new wave were erupting.  Mr. Jones was still hanging out in Berlin (actually Switzerland, it turns out) with Brian Eno, Tony Visconti, Adrian Belew, Carlos Alomar, etc inventing a future for that thing called rock and roll, sounding very much alive.

Toots + the Maytals - pressure drop
Toots + the Maytals were the first reggae band I ever consciously heard.  It would've been maybe 1976, their cover of John Denver's Take Me Home Country Roads.  I HATED IT.  The guy couldn't sing.  The band was just weird.  But then I grew up.  Hell, by 1983, a decade after its release, I was naming Funky Kingston as one of my ten or so all time FAVE albums.  Which gets us back to teenagers.  THEY'RE WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING.  But we still love them, because they're cute, some of them anyway.

Poppy Family - where evil grows
Sometimes nothing's darker than the soft stuff.  My friend Joseph was big on this spiked bit of candy when we were about twelve.  He said it was about vampires and what happened when they bit you.  "Evil grew, it's part of you.  And now it seems to be, that every time I look at you, Evil grows in me."

Alice Cooper - I love the dead
This would've been my favourite song for a few weeks when I was thirteen, almost fourteen.  A rousing anthem about loving the dead from a guy that murdered babies on stage, killed chickens, then got hung, guillotined, otherwise pulverized for his heinous sins.  It never actually occurred to me that it was about necrophilia – actually luvvving the dead.  Because it never occurred to me that people would do such things to get their rocks off.  I guess, I just didn't know people yet.      

Synergy - disruption in world communication
Synergy was one man – a guy named Larry Fast who, among other adventures, toured with Peter Gabriel, who gets credit for helping with the titles on 1978's Cords.  And none are better than this one, because yeah, this is exactly what it sounds like when we humans cease communicating with each other, let our worries, paranoias get the best of us, only see the worst in others' actions, intentions.  Armies mobilize, missile silos open.  Cords may have been released in 1978 but it was all about the 1980s.

Moody Blues - Melancholy Man
Summer 1975.  I'm a post-puberty, pre-driver's license teenager spending the summer with relatives in a mostly beautiful rural location.  Not that I was playing it much attention.  I was reading Lord of the Rings for the first time and listening to the only even remotely decent album in the vicinity – This Is The Moody Blues (who knows how my great aunt ended up with it?).  I still think of Bilbo Baggins finally getting old whenever I hear Melancholy Man, and I didn't even know what melancholy meant at the time – just felt the deep sorrow and regret and resilience inherent in the song, particularly once the mellotron sweeps in about half-way through.  

Neil Young - vampire blues
On The Beach came out in 1974 but it took until 1991 before I realized that Vampire Blues was about oil as blood, and we who NEEDED it as vampires, which is to say, junkies, willing to kill for a fix.  And kill we did in 1991.  The first Gulf War.  At least 150,000 killed in Kuwait and Iraq, not counting the few dozen on our side.  "No Blood For Oil" said all the anti-War posters and placards, but they were missing the point.  The oil was blood.  It still is.  And we're still killing for it. 

Jimmy Castor Bunch - LTD (life truth + death)
I had no idea how rare this was when I grabbed it at a garage sale in Tacoma (just passing through).  For me Jimmy Castor was just a one-hit summer of 1972 novelty (remember Troglodyte).  But man, what a blast!  Like the 60s had never ended, just gotten better, funkier, more full-on psychedelic ELECTRIC, and serious, because nothing's more serious than life truth and death.

Culturcide - they aren't the world
Maybe you had to be there.  Mid-80s, Ronald Raygun's America, the rich getting richer, their piss trickling down to all the miserable assholes at sidewalk level, on their knees, licking it up, lining up to see Tom Cruise and Michael J. Fox movies.  There is an alternate history of the past twenty-five years where the REVOLUTION did happen.  The masses did rise in unanimous self-disgust, got hungry and ate the rich.  And it all started with this album ("Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America") where Culturcide took a bunch of the more loathsome hits of the day and didn't even bother re-recording them, just smeared their shit all over the original tracks.  Never has ugly been so beautiful, or visa versa.

Klaatu - little neutrino
It's 1976 and there's rumour spreading fast that the Beatles had secretly reunited and recorded an album under an assumed name – the cryptic Klaatu It was all bullshit, of course, and thank God, because it really wasn't that.  Kind of like what you’d get if Paul McCartney rediscovered LSD and tried to do another Sergeant Pepper's, but all alone this time, and maybe drinking copious amounts of vodka spiked Cream Soda on the side.  But the last track was a keeper, something to do with split atoms, I think, and the wrath of gods thus unleashed.  The ongoing subtext of our times.

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