Monday, August 20, 2012

Countdown #31 - hanging around

Broadcast August-18-2012 - podcast available here.  All comments are from Philip Random's notes (with some editorial diligence).  Links are not necessarily to the exact same recordings we played on-air (but we tried).  Nor is every record represented here.  To hear them all, you've got to actually listen to the podcast.  The full countdown list (so far).  
Stranglers - hanging around
Tough number about that most essential of human endeavours:  hanging around.  I remember seeing these guys in the mid-80s when they were trying to soften their sound, less punk, more aural sculpture.  But the audience wasn't having it, or better yet, the mob.  Because the Stranglers had that effect on people.  The aggression they inspired was downright ugly, serious stomping going at the slightest provocation.  Good thing I was thwacked on MDA at the time (ie: Ecstasy, before marketing wised up, changed the name and doubled the price).

Can - Vitamin C
A song about who knows what?  Including the singer, I'm pretty sure, Damo Suzuki from Japan, hanging out in Germany trying to work in English because that was the thing in those days.  And it works to abstract, dadaesque perfection.  A song about whatever you want it to be about, although I'll go with my friend Thomas's interpretation.  It's about that dissipated feeling you get when you've wasted all your precious vril energies on complex, yet pointless pleasures.  You're losing – You're losing …

23 Skidoo - G.I. Fuck You
Take a sample from the Do-Long Bridge sequence from Apocalypse Now, lay down some heavy funk, all manner of delicious percussion, and voila!  It must be 1984, almost ten years since the Vietnam War officially ended, but you could still feel its dark vibrations and heat, and horror.  Even in the suburbs.  Pop it in the Sony Walkman, take the parents old dog for a walk down cookie-cutter streets.  Welcome to the jungle.  

Suicidal Tendencies – institutionalized
Universal anthem of the pissed off, headbanger teenager, who though he may lack subtlety, has an excellent point.  If I went to your schools, your churches, ate at your restaurants, watched your TV shows and movies, read your book, and still got all fucked up in the head – well, maybe I'm not the problem.  And so on.  Society's to blame.  Society doesn't care.  Society's agenda does not include your sanity and/or autonomy.   Also, this was a seriously radical sound in 1984 (care of the Repo Man soundtrack).  Heavy metal licks, punk anger and insight (for lack of a better word), more rapped than sung – way ahead of its time.

Clash - safe European home
The Clash's second album Give Him Enough Rope may not be their best, but it sure delivers with Safe European Home, the-only-band-that-mattered captured at peak ferocity, moving beyond punk into a realm that is best thought of as superlative. 

Connie Kaldor - Maria's place [Batoche]
Why do Canadian school kids not know where Batoche is?  How do we get past Grade 10 without fully grasping the tragedy of what happened there, May 1885, and how, in spite of our ignorance, it still colours our souls (and our blood).  So yeah, I play this song at least once a year (the only Connie Kaldor song I could even name even though I've got the album).  Every Canada Day.  Because my French may suck utterly, but je me souviens anyway.

Bryan Ferry - a hard rain's a-gonna fall
It doesn't look promising on paper.  Mr. Suave takes on Bob Dylan's 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis world's-gonna-end-tomorrow-so-I-guess-I'll-just-write-all-my-songs-tonight apocalyptic masterpiece, turns it into a funky sort of dance number with a big arrangement.  Yet it works, ten or so years after the fact with the missiles and warheads still in position (as they remain even now), total species annihilation mere minutes away, every minute of every day.  Might as well dance to it, I guess.      

Kate Bush - the jig of life
Kate Bush pretty much had the world in her hands by 1985's Hounds Of Love, and she made excellent use of it.  Side One was the pop side, the songs we've all heard.  Side Two was deeper, richer, stranger, with The Jig Of Life kicking in toward the end, a force of pure and powerful pagan nature.  

Nina Simone - Suzanne
I was just a kid when this came out in 1969, but even ten years later, 1979, I wasn't near cool enough to get something like Nina Simone covering Leonard Cohen.  Hell, I barely got Leonard Cohen.  No, Ms. Simone would take another decade and a half to penetrate my thickness.  The mid-90s.  Grunge had gone horribly wrong.  We were slipping into sophistication, sipping cocktails, realizing our parents had been right all along.  Sort of.  Anyway, it was Amy's parents who had this album, not mine, tucked way away in the dusty far reaches of their collection ...  just waiting for us, some enchanted evening.

Velvet Underground - who loves the sun?
The Velvets go for full on pop but still can't help dis-respecting the mighty and magnificent and beautiful orb which gives all life, inspires much of the world's religion and spirituality.  Which is why we love them, of course.  Because the best sweets always have some bitter.    

Neil Diamond - coldwater morning
From the 1970 album Taproot Manuscript which made it very clear, Mr. Diamond wasn't just some fresh-faced popster anymore.  He was an artist, pure and true.  Yeah, the hippies were sneering at him because his jeans weren't faded and/or crusty enough (and he probably used cologne), but who really cared if he could deliver a song as perfect as Coldwater Morning?  Particularly that high note he hits in the chorus.  That's the kind of thing that stops time if you're twelve or thirteen and just starting to figure out what passion really is.  How deep it all goes.  

Bob Marley - midnight ravers
For old friend James who got traumatized the summer he spent tree planting by all the hippies who dominated his camp.  All they wanted to do after a long day's work was smoke marijuana and listen to Bob Marley, maybe bongo along.  So he ended up hating all the great man's music.  Except Midnight Ravers.  For some reason, he could never quite give up on Midnight Ravers.  

Einsturzende Neubauten - haus der luge
Berlin 1989.  The new buildings are collapsing.  The house is on fire.  Might as well panic, run wild, tear shit up.  Except then the wall came down.  Who saw that coming?  The historians now seem to give Ronald Reagan all the credit.  Fuck that shit.  It was Neubauten all the way.  Music that dissolved concrete, melted barbed wire, scared the hell out of the World Communist Conspiracy, set all mankind free.

Goose Creek Symphony - talk about Goose Creek and other important places
Drink a little wine, maybe mix it with other weird concoctions outa the holler, such that an easy little country blues devours itself, goes all psychedelic, stumbles off into imponderable dimensions, other important places.    

Black Sabbath - N.I.B.
I remember reading what N.I.B. refers to.  Except now I've forgotten.  "Nebulous Inner Blackness," said Motron when I asked him, but he was just snatching that out of the air. Anyway, it's from the first Black Sabbath album and it seems to be about the Dark Lord himself, Lucifer, but he just wants you to take his hand, be his friend.  Another lonely guy stuck in all eternity. Which is what Black Sabbath always were -- just another blues band, playing for keeps.

David Bowie - across the universe
The thin white duke at the thinnest, whitest, most cocaine psychotic point in his career, takes a careless swipe at maybe the Beatles great psychedelic hymn to transcendence, eternity, higher meaning.  And at first, it's a sloppy, god damned blasphemy, but then something very cool happens.  It finds its soul.  The memory is of being drunk, maybe twenty-one, singing my head off to this while very, very alone.  Feeling somehow saved.  I believe I was driving at the time, which is nothing to be proud of.  I didn't crash.  

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