Monday, March 5, 2012

Countdown #12 - dead finks don't pop

(Broadcast March-3-2012 - 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. 
XTC - this is pop?
Note the question mark.  It was inconceivable at the time that something so dissonant could be considered pop.  But if it wasn't pop, what was it?  It wasn't PUNK.  Maybe it was this new thing that people were trying to call New Wave, but what the hell did that mean?  New Wave wasn't a sound.  It was a way of marketing stuff that may have had PUNK in its blood, but was a little more ambitious than just three chords and a pile of rage.  It was pop!

Sonic Youth - Hey Joni
Hey Joni's about Joni Mitchell apparently.  But I always imagined something more cosmic than that, expansive.  Like the rest of Daydream Nation, it was really about everything.  It may have been 1988, the Winter of Hate, raining all the time, the nights long and desperate. But here was the future kicking through, full of cool white light, and like the guitar tunings Sonic Youth used, infinitely complex, and ultimately quite hopeful.

Undertones - you've got my number
A great single by one of the great singles bands ever.  But I'll be honest.  I never really liked them much at the time.  Blame Eric.  One of those obsessive assholes who can't let a good thing speak for itself – he has to evangelize it, until you come to HATE it, even if you don't, anything to get under the guy's skin.

Cure - caterpillar
Early 90s.  I remember these two drunk guys arguing about Goth and its relative merits.  One of them hated it outright.  All of it.  Oh yeah, said the other, what about the Cure?  You like them.  The Cure are a pop band, said the first, and a fucking good one.  Which is certainly true of Caterpillar, from the mid-80s sometime, a nifty and successful piece of pop experimentation indeed.  Nothing does what you expect it to, but it always works, keeps the foot tapping, the head nodding, the earworm slithering. 

Aphrodite's Child - you always stand in my way
Aphrodite's Child are a weird one, coming out of Greece in the late 60s, a sort of pop-psychedelic outfit that managed to be both sonically extreme and sentimentally cloying, sometimes in the same song.  But You Always Stand In My Way goes mostly for the extreme edge, singer Demis Rousos giving his WAILING all while keyboardist Vangelis tears things up on lead melotron.  I actually found this one in a yard sale sometime in the early 90s, paid a buck for it.  I remember the guy who sold it to me sort of scratching his head and mumbling, "Oh yeah.  This record." 
Waterboys - a girl called Johnny
From before they'd really committed to the BIG MUSIC, a catchy pop gem about a girl with a boy's name.  Why didn't we get to hear this on commercial radio again?  Oh yeah.  Satan had everything tied down in 1983.

Cosmic Jokers - kinder des alls galactic [randoEDIT]
It's Germany 1973.  A guy named Dieter Dierks is throwing acid parties in his studio, all musicians welcome.  Just show up, gobble some acid, lay down tracks. And he gets some top players throwing in, Members of Ash Ra Tempel, Wallenstein.  Later, Dierks would do more drugs, muck around with the tapes, get his girlfriend to throw some vocals down, and call the whole thing Cosmic Jokers.  Then he'd release it without telling anybody, or cutting them in on any royalties. Which got lawyers involved, and Cosmic Jokers relegated to the extremely rare category.   But good.

Beatles - hey bulldog
Even at their least essential, the Beatles couldn't help being a great fucking rock and roll band, particularly if John Lennon was unleashed, and allowed to snarl.

Doors - L'America
Jimbo the Lizard King was already dead when this one came out (or successful in his disappearance).  Either way, LA Woman is exactly the kind of album every dead (or disappeared) poet, sexgod, asshole rockstar should leave in his wake.  Full of grit, mystery, and kickass songs like L'America.

Link Wray - Batman theme
As far as I'm concerned, there's still only one Batman worth talking about, and that's the 1960s TV Batman, the Adam West Batman, the laugh-along silly Batman, the mod-pop technicolour Batman.  Everybody was doing versions of the main theme at the time.  Link Wray's wins because it's just so dirty (the guitar that is), and straight up FUN.  

Cocteau Twins - Ivo
I didn't pay that much attention to the Cocteau Twins back in the 80s when they were first doing their thing.  Not that I didn't at least like pretty much everything I heard, it just never found me that often.  But Treasure was an exception.  An album full of it.  Treasure, that is – dense, ethereal, yet surprisingly tough.  

Love + Rockets - all in my mind [electric]
Love and Rockets never got the respect they deserved in the mid-80s.  Fans of Bauhaus (the band they'd split from) were huddled together in dark rooms awaiting the resurrection of their main man, Peter Murphy (which never really came).  Edgy psyche-types were busy getting their ears abused by the likes of The Jesus + Mary Chain.  Meanwhile David Jay, Kevin Haskins and Daniel Ash were slipping on the shades and cranking out some of the smoothest, most artful, BEST psychedelic sounds since the 60s – always delivered with a cool hint of 80s snarl.

Guess Who - key [randoEDIT]
Not the key.  Simply (significantly) Key.  In which Canada's biggest band ever, at the verge of conquering the world (they'd outsell the Beatles in 1970), smell the wheat and get cosmic, reference the Bible and otherwise lay down the elusive psychedelic TRUTH for all god's children.  With prolonged drum solo toward the end which the Randophonic edit-team has seen fit to remedy somewhat.  

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