Monday, July 9, 2012

Countdown #27 - feed the enemy

Broadcast July-7-2012 - podcast available here.  All comments are 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.
Magazine - feed the enemy
This one goes out to a guy whose name I don't remember.  He used to work at Quintessence Records before it turned into Zulu (late 70s, maybe 1980) and he made it his business to convince me that prog-rock was dead, that punk had killed it, that whatever cool, innovative music the future might hold – it would come from punk and the ashes it had made of all that had come before.  So he more or less forced Second Hand Daylight on me and, of course, I didn't get it. Starting with the lead off track Feed The Enemy – all threat and paranoia, a plane crash, unconvincing border guards, hunger.  Where were the angels, the wise old men, the mystical topographic sages of prog?  Killed in the plane crash apparently.

Can - mushroom
Tago Mago is the greatest album in the history of humankind. At least it was, for a good chunk of 1986-87. Shit so far ahead of its time even then (a decade and a half after its release) that normal folks are still trying to figure it out.  Hint: it's magick, the Axis powers of WW2 reunited (four Germans cranking out avant-grooves, Japanese singer cruising cosmically in and out of it all as only 1971 could allow).  But this time they were all taking the right drugs, unconcerned with world domination. 

The Jesus + Mary Chain - you trip me up
It's the mid-80s and something's gotta give, somebody's gotta take noise to its extreme edge, give you a smug, punk sneer, and call it music. Crazy thing is, it's not a lie. There really is a nice little love song buried deep in the abrasive acid heart of You Trip Me Up. Late night radio, 1985, we used to play it at the same time as Pink Floyd's Interstellar Overdrive -- like mixing nuclear mushroom clouds, in a good way.

Forgotten Rebels - surfin' on heroin
Yes, on one level, it's about getting fucked up on the heaviest drug there is, not falling flat on your face (or maybe just turning blue, dying). But, as was put to me once (by the lovely Lucille, I'm pretty sure) while I was gliding through about hour 38 of non-stop awakeness fuelled by all manner of drugs (none of them heroin or opiate related), saying you were surfin' on heroin was just an overall acknowledgement of how far gone you were, but still somehow able to function. Maybe two hours after that, past hour 40 by now, I thought it was a good idea to drive home -- 45 minutes through heavy weekend traffic. At some point there was a massive accident on the freeway (going the other way).  But I just surfed on past. Later, when I finally got home, PBS had Woodstock on, the whole movie.  Who says drugs destroy your memory?

Hunters + Collectors - run run run
The memory is vague indeed, and strange.  It's 1984 maybe and we've trekked out to suburban Richmond to catch this band from Australia in one of the local rawk clubs. And yeah, minds were blown, souls were lifted, believed in. Particularly as Run Run Run roared through its epic second half. "For the ages," muttered somebody afterward. 

Rod Stewart - it's all over now
Bobby Womack wrote the song. The Rolling Stones had a big early hit with it, but Rod the Mod owns it here to absurdly relentless effect, making it the greatest, truest break-up record ever, best grasped via too much alcohol, self-pity etc.  Because it's true, endlessly true. I used to love her, but it's all over now.  Just keep repeating it.  

Daevid Allen - [then] smile [randoEDIT]
It's 1980 and the 60s are definitely over, even for the hippest of hippies.  And Daevid Allen was definitely one of those:  founding member of Gong, and before that Soft Machine, and before that, beat collaborator with the likes of William Burroughs. And oh yeah, he was in Paris in May 1968, threw his hand in with that insurrection that almost brought the whole of Western Europe to the ground.  But by 1980 it wasn't about big movements anymore, it was just you and me, eye to eye, and, "When we have killed each other, then we can the subject.  But first, let's talk about your life policy." 

[then] smile
Sparks - the number 1 song in heaven
Some people just can't get enough Sparks, hence the umpteen albums going back to the early 70s. But I've always been happy enough with the occasional gem of pure weird pop beauty, wonder, invention. Like The Number 1 Song In Heaven, their big deal disco hit from 1979, which is weird given the sudden switches in time signature and all. Apparently, they didn't clear the dance floor.  At least that's what I was told.  Because I didn't go to discos at the time.  I despised the whole culture categorically. With occasional exceptions, because there are always exceptions.

Velvet Underground - Venus in furs
It still shocks me that this happened in 1967.  Music so driven, angular, intense while the rest of the planet was going so gloriously, colourfully, OFF. Jump forward maybe twenty-five years and I'm playing it as pre-gig background music, a couple of local bands playing.  A nervous sort of guy pulls me aside and tells me I'm doing a very bad thing. I can't play this song, not to this crowd, with so many junkies in the room.  Must've been the early 90s – Vancouver, of course.  Always junkies in the room.

Spacemen 3 - when tomorrow hits
I still haven't really figured out the Spacemen 3 (or any of their latter day off-shoots). Such a solid grasp of all things musically psychedelic, yet all the clues point to their drug of choice being heroin. Not that I'm complaining. I appreciate the confusion, particularly when it erupts like the end of When Tomorrow Hits.  Stuff like that doesn't require explanation.  Just surrender to it, get lost, never to be found.

Mothers of Invention - who are the brain police?
It's 1966 and it seems only Frank Zappa realizes how freaky and weird things are about to get, and he never even did drugs (beyond cigarettes and coffee). Nevertheless he could see them -- the Brain Police. Or more to the point, he felt them, because you can't see the brain police, can you? They're within you, hiding behind your devices of oracular perception.  Taking notes.  It's true.

Laurie Anderson - let x = x [it tango]
Because sometimes you've just gotta go with your intuition. If you see a guy and he looks like 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, setting up her tape loops, playing her strange fiddle, telling stranger stories, aeons ahead of her time (and ours).

Marianne Faithfull - the ballad of Lucy Jordan
There's an 80s movie called Montenegro that I tend to assume everyone's seen but no one actually has. It's the one where Susan Anspach (wealthy housewife, bored to the point of insanity) just bails one day, splits suburbia and her husband and kids, and somehow ends up hanging with some savage eastern European types still playing out blood feuds older than recorded history.  It's a strange movie, disorienting, intense, and (spoiler alert) the fruit was poisoned.  The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan features prominently. 

The The - red cinders/song without an ending
If this was a list of albums, The The's Burning Blue Soul would be very high up. Because it really is all of a piece, a continuous beautiful flow, in spite of the poisonous fumes, the raw chunks of jagged steel just left lying around -- an essential piece of that ongoing soundtrack for the movie called Winter of Hate that no one's gotten around to making yet. But they will. Someday.

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