Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Countdown #58 - burnin + lootin

Broadcast May-4-2013 - 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).

KLF - doctorin' the Tardis
Because it makes so much sense.  Take the Doctor Who theme, jam it up with Gary Glitter's Rock and Roll Part 2, add some big beats and voila! the whole world shall move.  And it did, sort of, the KLF (acronym for Kopywrite Liberation Front) being almost as committed to sabotaging themselves as they were to world domination.  Future shenanigans would include hooking up with Tammy Wynette for another almost monster hit and (operating under the banner of the K Foundation) burning a million pounds (almost three million dollars at the time) in the name of art, which confused a lot of people and forever earned them mythical status in my book.  But then what do you expect from beings allegedly connected with the lost civilization of Atlantis?

Undisputed Truth - ball of confusion
Because it's true, it's indeed a ball of confusion, the world that is -- everything pumping with paranoia, unease, threat.  It is now, it was in 1971-72, evidence as near as the six o'clock news, which I did occasionally watch, age twelve or thirteen. The Temptations had the big hit with Ball of Confusion but the Undisputed Truth (whoever they were) take it way further, funkier, bigger.  And then there's that band I vaguely recall seeing at a school dance, maybe Grade ten, doing their own long and sloppy rock take.  I remember thinking, I guess this is sort of the future, all endless struggles and bullshit.  Prophetic indeed.  At least you could dance to it.  

Beatles - it's all too much
Because it saved Pepperland, Beatle George,s full-on acid epiphany at the end of Yellow Submarine (the movie), which I saw when I was nine, my friend Patrick's birthday.  And  even then, It's All Too Much was my fave (and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds).  What was it about psychedelia that so instantly grabbed me, even then?  And the thing is, we kids knew.  These were songs about drugs and hippies -- the kinds of things that hippies saw when they did drugs.  Which seemed to be rainbows and flowers and weird multi-coloured alligators and much too much too much too much.  What was so wrong about that?  

Neil Diamond - Hot August Night
"Because it's not ironic, man, this shit makes me live.  Let the seed be full with tomorrow, it doesn't get more hopeful than that, and also the part about the lame man not just walking but flying – that's what music can do, that’s what music must do." I didn't say it, my friend Steven did, but I agreed with him, even if I needed about five drinks in me to bring myself to it, the kind of gushing that was required, and dammit, it was required, because Mr. Neil Diamond had NOT received his due measure of respect, and still hasn't.  Go ahead, listen to a live take on Holly Holy with your mind open and try to argue otherwise.  

Orb - little fluffy clouds
Because it's Graceland, 1996 or thereabouts and The Orb have finally made it to town.  But it's a curious set, all texture and groove, precious little song.  But it gets the packed room moving.  And then, final song of the main set, they drop the old hit, Little Fluffy Clouds – the whole room suddenly kicking up three or four gears, achieving escape velocity.  At which point it occurs to me that Little Fluffy Clouds is an anthem.  Something to do with beauty being its own argument, its own justification, its own ideology even.  Which is to say, the ends can never justify the means, because the means are the end.  You don't get to paradise by doing ugly things.

Bob Marley + the Wailers - burnin' and lootin'
Because of the 1992 LA riots (all that post Rodney King verdict chaos).  I remember watching it go down on TV all day, then helping with a radio show that night, piping in the TV sound live, surfing the chaos, mixing it up with various relevant tunes, which meant lots of gangsta rap, of course.  Angry As Fuck.  But the song that cut the hardest that night, spoke most profoundly of the underlying history, the centuries of bullshit and terror that had fed the monster we were watching – that was Burnin' and Lootin', Bob Marley and the Wailers from almost twenty years before anyone had even heard Rodney King's name.

Jimi Hendrix - third stone from the sun + 1983 a merman I should be
Because if Jimi calls it surf music, it's surf music.  Except that's not actually what he's saying toward the end of Third Stone From The Sun, all mixed up with guitar manipulations and feedback.  He's saying surf music is dead, because he'd recently heard Dick Dale was dying (he wasn't, but he was fighting cancer at the time).  Except I wouldn't get this straight until just recently, care of neighbour Motron, which means I spent a good fifteen or twenty years thinking Third Stone was Jimi's version of surf rock, which is brilliant really.  Like that moment I had, fourteen years old, caught in some monster surf off Hawaii, turning and tumbling, no idea what  was up or down, where there might some air to breathe.  Not that I panicked.  It never occurred to me to panic.  It was just so strange.  Like this is it, this is how you die, even if you are a strong swimmer, you just can't find the surface.  And then I did, kind of by mistake.  Anyway, that's the kind of place Jimi Hendrix at his most abstract gets you.

And throw in the latter part of 1983 A Merman I Should Be to further the point.  Submerged all the way, the very best music being not unlike the ocean -- vast and unpredictable.  The secret is not to panic.

Crosby Stills Nash + Young - Ohio
Because even though the album says 1972, this live recording of Ohio dates to June 1970, barely a month after the events in question – the murder by National Guard marksmen of four students on the campus of Kent State University, Ohio.  So what you're hearing are people in the line of fire, singing for their lives.  Because Richard Nixon has given the executive order.  Fuck the long hairs and their protests, send in the tin soldiers and shoot them down.

Suicide - Frankie Teardrop
Because violence is in our nature and it's seldom been so viscerally expressed as it is here.  No surprise that it would be 1977, the year punk truly broke.  Not that Suicide were punk.  They were their own genre altogether.  And political as hell if only for the full on howl of rage found in Frankie Teardrop, young man with a family, just trying to survive, but he's not gonna make it, he can't make the payments.  And don't fool yourself, like the song says, we're all Frankies.  WARNING: the word nightmarish does apply here.

Klaus Shulze - floating
Because there had to be at least one endless eternal mid-70s analog synth epic on this list, so it it might as well be the one that just saved my life.  Sort of.  The weight of the whole damned world driving me down.  I'm finally flat on the floor, not even drunk or stoned, just spent with worry ... but fortunately I've got Floating playing.  I don't even remember putting it on.  But here I am giving myself to it, floating through the various details of the moment -- what a beautiful day it is, the birds singing just out the window, the summer sun warm and benign, an easy miracle from 93 million miles away.  What was I even worried about?  

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