Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Countdown #17 - Babylon Heart

Broadcast April-14-2012 - podcast available here.  All comments are lifted from Philip Random's notes (with some editorial diligence).  The full countdown list (so far) can be found here.  Links are not necessarily to the exact same recordings we played on-air, but we tried.

AC/DC - riff raff   
Never trust anyone under twenty.  Case in point, me when I was nineteen  and way too mature for the likes of AC/DC, yet capable of getting excited about shit like Styx, Foreigner, Kansas.  Fact is, it took me ten years before I was mature enough for AC/DC.  But it had to the old stuff – Bon Scott long dead but immortal, howling down the pure rock and roll truth.  Sheer Riff Raff all the way.

Led Zeppelin - the crunge 
Chuck McElveen was back-up goalie for my Midget-A hockey team, and he sucked.  Put him in net and we were sure to lose.  But I put up with him anyway, because he had his own car, with a proper stereo, and he always had good dope.  And he loved Led Zeppelin.  He's the one that clarified The Crunge to me.  A song without a bridge, a song in search of a bridge, and thus just a riff really, rock-steady and funky as hell.  And pure fun.  If this was Satan's own band, well hail Satan, man. 

Simple Minds - Premonition 
This song came to me via a mixtape.  I was arguing with a friend about so-called New Wave.  Simplistic and annoying (my opinion) versus the cool sound of the future (his opinion).  I was wrong.  Premonition helped seal the deal with its big, dark groove, though  I still have no idea what the simple minded guy's singing about.  

Bob Marley + the Wailers - Babylon System 
I was just starting to take Bob Marley seriously when he died in 1981.  So an obscure album cut like Babylon System didn't even find me until the 90s sometime.  Which was as good a time as any for an outside opinion on the evils inherent in the vampiric (and crumbling) empire I was inextricably part of, by the very nature of where and when I was born, not to mention the pale shade of my skin.  Sucking the blood of the children and the sufferers day by day.  Too true.

Rolling Stones - jigsaw puzzle  
In which the Stones, barely post-psychedelic (already falling into harder stuff yet nevertheless at the absolute peak of their form), wax artful, poetic, philosophical even as to the nature of life, the universe, everything – find it all just a jigsaw puzzle of confusion.  But not before twenty-thousand grandmas are seen waving hankies, burning pension checks, shouting it's not fair.  

Love - Seven + Seven is 
Love were already on their second album by 1966, and definitely hitting their timeless stride.  Of course, being seven at the time, I was more into the Monkees, Herb Alpert and Peter Paul + Mary.  So I'd have to wait thirty years before I could pronounce 7+7 as a near perfect a chunk of garage psychedelia – short, sharp, and not afraid to explode at the end.  

Temptations - psychedelic shack 
No Motown act nailed the psychedelic part of the 60s as effectively as the Temptations, with 1970's Psychedelic Shack (song and album) as that particular highwater mark.   And the thing is, there were psychedelic shacks in all three of the suburbs I did my childhood time in (late 60s, early 70s).  Absolute no-go zones where long-haired freaky people hung out and sacrificed small children unto Satan if they could get their acid drenched hands on them.  Later, I realized they were just teenagers and my parents were full of shit.  

MC5 - ramblin' starship [randoEDIT] 
In which the legendary MC5 kick things so hard loud and superlative that the very rules of physics break down, all known boundaries dissolve,  music and noise fuse as a higher sonic form, Sun Ra's starship is encountered roughly halfway to Jupiter, and entire galaxies are set blissfully free … 

Pretty Things - sickle clowns 
My English friend June always said this reminded her of the youth riots of the late 60s, early 70s, even though she was too young to remember them.  It never made sense to me either.  

Boo Radleys - at the sound of speed 
You'll notice that even though this list allows for recordings from as late as 2000, there isn't much post-80s stuff at all.  That's because I more or less stopped buying new vinyl in around 1989.  So why not just place the cut-off point at 1990?  Because then I'd have to NOT include the likes of the Boo Radleys whose godlike and powerful pop was known to cause actual changes in the weather in those turbulent early 90s.  And anyway, this list was never meant to be definitive, or even accurate.  But it is a list, and as my philosopher friend Samuel has been known to say – no proper epic is complete without a hero, a descent unto hell, and a list. 

Echo + The Bunnymen - all you need is love
This one saved my psychedelic soul one hot summer day, well into the 1990s.  What the hell was I even doing tripping well past my thirty-fifth birthday?  Why was I alone in that dank hole of an apartment?  What was the fucking point of anything in my misplaced life beyond mere survival, which is the ultimate losing game anyway?  And so on.  I was on the slippery slope, pitching fast into a darkstar.  But then there was Echo + the Bunnymen in the background, from a random mixtape, their rather half-assed, definitely at least half-cynical take on the Beatles summer of love classic … nevertheless reminding me.  You're never really alone, never truly beaten, or doomed.  All you've got to do is give.

Python Lee Jackson - in a broken dream 
Yes, that is Rod Stewart singing the blues back when he still remembered how.  Otherwise, I know nothing about this track, or Python Lee Jackson.  I'm guessing it was just a session Rod the Mod did back before he got famous.  And it probably went nowhere, got put on a shelf and forgotten about.  Until Rod was suddenly too big to ignore, and cool.  That's the hard part.  To realize that Rod Stewart was once genuinely cool, hard drinking, hard rocking, always smiling.  But then he had to split from the Faces, go the Americas.

Pixies - caribou 
Track one, side one, from Come On Pilgrim, the first Pixies record.  I even heard it at the time and, genius that I was, decided it was pretty good, then put it aside and forgot about it, because I was more into noise in those days.  I needed things falling apart, a soundtrack for the corrosion inherent in my worldview.  Then maybe eight years later, couch-surfing in Berlin, a half-condemned building east of where the wall had been, a grey day threatening rain, I was finally ready.

Savoy Brown - I'm Tired 
If you were cool in 1969, you had very long hair, smoked a lot of dope, and didn't mince words when it came to your opinion on the fucked up state of the world, MAN.  "I'm tired," said Savoy Brown.  Definitely cool.   

Pink Floyd - atom heart groovin' [randoEDIT] 
The title's cool.  Atom Heart Mother.  Shit doesn't get much heavier than that.  But it's the cow that grabbed me.  I first saw it as a poster in a record store when I was maybe twelve.  No group or album name.  Just this cow gazing cowlike from its green field.  

I didn't get it.  Later, a friend told me it was Pink Floyd, who I'd heard of but never actually heard (this was a good two or three years before Dark Side of the Moon would become as common as allergies in springtime).  "What do they sound like?" I said.  "Acid rock," said my friend, with extreme emphasis on the ACID part.  Because acid could eat metal, right?  But then I actually heard some and it was … kind of nice for a while, then a bit weird, then nice again, like an orchestra or something, but with space ships in the distance.  But where was the metal eating?  Then I finally started doing acid, 1980 by now and Pink Floyd were ubiquitous.  The Wall was HUGE, and annoying, and I was fast growing allergic to it.  Eventually, maybe my seventh trip, I found myself out in the country (we were searching for magic mushrooms).  I noticed a cow in the next field, looking at me – cowlike, calm, significant, like a Hindu god.  Not like.  It was.  And fierce to boot.  A god that could calmly eat metal, but it preferred grass.   

Pink Floyd - pigs (three different kinds) 
In which the supreme dinosaurs of 70s mainstream album rock confuse everybody and unleash a work such uncompromising bile and rage, it would be confused with punk rock if the songs weren't so long.  Pigs rates for the pure sonic violence of its instrumental parts, like the worst of dreams.  You wake up to air raid sirens and a strange squealing sound.  You look fearfully skyward, catch a hint of something floating high above the clouds.  It's a pig the size of a football field, with red laser eyes, and they're fixed on you.  

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