Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Countdown #2 - "concrete + gas"

(podcast available here – originally broadcast Nov-12-2011)  Some highlights from the program.  All comments are from Philip Random's notes.  The full countdown list can be found here.

Kraftwerk - Europe Endless
We drank cheap sweet wine that night, smoked spliffs with too much tobacco in them, not enough hash, and talked for many hours, various languages and variants.  A Canadian (me), a Northern Irishman, a Pole, a Croat.  We all agreed on one thing.  If you're European, the 20th Century has been a fucking disaster (the first half of it anyway).  Wars and atrocities that can't really be quantified.  Maybe just call it The Apocalypse – already played out.  With mass graves left in its wake, and slag heaps as big as mountains, poisonous, still killing us.  Life is a veil of tears or something like that.  The value of scars is they at least confirm that something has happened.  Europe is endless, or did I say that already?

Jethro Tull - beggars farm
Tull were a big deal in the early 70s, heavy duty underground stuff that couldn't be messed with, even if the main guy did play flute.  Beggars Farm goes back to their first album, This Was, when they were still mostly a blues outfit, though the cover suggested something deeper, the band all got up as old men.  Like they knew something we didn't.  All this youth flower power stuff – it really was kind of dumb.

Trisomie 21 - is anybody home?  [randoEDIT]
I don't even remember where this came from.  Except there was some very strong, clean LSD25 kicking around for a while in 1985 … and somewhere in the midst of it, this thing showed up in my collection. Hideous cover – some unformed monster gnawing on a female corpse.  Moloch perhaps.  And then you've got this singer trying to croon, not really pulling it off, but the mix is so out there it works anyway.  Proof that the 80s were stranger than anyone gives them credit for. 

Ventures - psychedelic venture
From 1967, of course.  Which means nobody seems to remember anything about it.  And yet we have this evidence.  Gatefold sleeve, crazy shapes and colours.  A few half-assed covers but it's the originals that stand out – titles like kandy koncoction, 1999 AD (about the future, man), endless dream, PSYCHED out, guitar psychedelics, and … 


Bongwater - ride my see-saw
More of that mid-80s lost decade, winter of hate, psychedelic stuff in which the boy-girl duo of Bongwater take on the Moody Blues classic and pay it no respect at all.  That was just the truth then.  The 60s were officially a bad trip and we (those who actually cared) were doing everything we could to bury them.  Not because we hated the memory, absolutely.  Nah, it just needed to be dead for a while, so it could be reborn.  Out of some caustic storm of superlative noise.  At least that's what it felt like. 

Terry Jacks - concrete sea
You've got to trust me on this.  There was a time when the most vilely sentimental fragments of POP poison the current world knew could cohabit (share album space) with oddly heartfelt little ditties about urban alienation, the mindless paving over of paradise, the sheer sadness inherent in being alone and alive in a world that was going poppily to hell.  What was it about 1972?   

Beatnigs - CIA
Before there was a Disposable Heroes of HipHopracy, before there was a Spearhead, there were The Beatnigs fronted by a guy named Michael Franti, and a mixed bag in every possible way.  White-Black-Asian, funk, industrial, punk, powertools, chunks of raw metal, genuine FIRE.  It all caught Jello Biafra's attention, and maybe the CIA's as well.  And man did they kick it live.  True grinding of steel.  Music that even smelled dangerous. 

Lieutenant Pigeon - moldy old dough
1972 again.  What is it about that year?  Monster hit in Britain where they still seem to remember it.  But not over here.  The song itself seems to be about a certain tendency in medieval times for folks to go mad after eating bread baked from mouldy old dough, research into which would eventually give us LSD.  This is true.

Jarvis Street Revue - Mr Oil Man
I can't even remember the guy's name.  Michael maybe?  He was a teenager, lived in the house behind mine, down some suburban dead end (it doesn't matter what town, all suburbs are the same, in memory anyway, in 1970 when you're ten years old).  Michael had a band and every now and then they'd jam in his basement.  We younger kids would hop the fence, sneak up and listen, smell the incense they had burning, no doubt to mask the POT smell.  But we weren't that hip yet, just trading Beatles bullshit, how they broke up because Paul was dead, killed by a Walrus while high on LSD.  Anyway, this The Jarvis Street Revue, straight outa Thunder Bay, reminding me of what Michael's band must've sounded like.  Except they were better.  The Jarvis Street Revue, that is.  And environmentally conscious.  

Dali's Car - Dali's Car
It made sense on paper.  Take Peter Murphy lead singer of recently disbanded Bauhaus and put him in a room with Mick Karn, instrumental genius from recently disbanded Japan – see what happens.  What happened was an album that didn't quite add up.  It just sounded like Peter Murphy and Mick Karn in the same room, but not really getting along.  But the lead off track was cool.

Countdown #1 - "dog breath + tao"

(podcast available here - original broadcast Nov-5-2011)  In which the good people at Randophonic finally get the All Vinyl Countdown + Apocalypse rolling with (theoretically) the twenty worst greatest records you've probably never heard.  These are a few highlights.  All comments are from Philip Random's notes.  

Paul Revere + The Raiders - eve of destruction
Why start here?  Because it's one of those eternal truths. The fan is being hit by shit.  Always has, always will. Even the Jordan river has bodies floating.  Paul Revere + co's sorta Vegas-schmaltz edge really sets Barry Maguire's 1965 fire and brimstone mega-hit free here, which means, disregard the release date of 1971 – this gem didn't collide with my worldview until at least 1992.  The grunge revolution was already tired.  We were drinking stronger, more complicated cocktails.  Folks were no longer denying the irony in pretty much everything.  That is, if you'd told us then that less than a decade later, we'd be celebrating some secret history of not just rock and roll but every-damned-thing-of-cultural-import-over-the-past-four-or-five-decades, and this record would be key in that telling – well, we'd probably believe you.  And a few minutes later, somebody'd be puking their guts.
Hunters + Collectors - talking to a stranger
It's the video that twigged me to this one, 1983 probably.  A remote station somewhere.  A stranger with a briefcase.  Lots of dust.  Bonfires in the distance.  Silhouettes and weird masks.  Heavy tribal feel.  These weren't all cliches yet. 

Yes - no opportunity necessary no experience required
The Time was Now.  The Word was Love.  From early days before the cool world had an opinion on them, Yes take a Richie Havens piece and run lordlike rings around it with jazz, psychedelia, ROCK, stolen TV themes.  Release date 1970 belies the fact that we didn't really hear any of this stuff until about five years later, the band having found the planet to be flat after all and fallen off the edge of it – and thus did the relevance of (so-called) Progressive Rock end, like midnight in Cinderella-Land.  The drugs ran down, it was a workboot after all.  But more on this later.

Neil Young - Cortez the Killer (live)
A sublime yet dumb song care of Neil and Crazy Horse at the very peak of their shambolic grandeur.  I blame and credit the Peruvian marching power that was all the rage at the time if you were a certain level of rock star or hip movie director or just the kind of person who hung with them.  This would be the LIVE version, from around 1978.  Elvis was dead and so were the Sex Pistols.  The movie had Jawas in it.

Fall - paint work
Some would throw every track from The Fall's over three dozen albums into a list such as this (and with a straight face), so taken are they with the unfriendly passion of main man Mark E. Smith.  I'm happy to drop in stuff like this 6.5 minute throwaway from the mid 80s that seems to have something to do with painting, and otherwise fucking around.  It doesn't have to sound difficult to be brilliant.

Tranquility Bass - The Bird
Nobody's ever going to care what happened in 1997 unless they were born that year, or maybe they lost their virginity, or they saw God on some acid trip.  But the rest of us, we were all fixed on the End by then.  The turning.  The millennium.  The future, if we had one.  Maybe that's why Tranquility Bass suddenly made so much sense.  Techno-hippie types getting lost in the music (and likely a whole lotta drugs) on some unnamed Gulf Island, mixing everything up, wondering what god must look like, deciding he was a bird.  Someone had to.  

Genesis - back in NYC
This one's just odd, and intense from beginning to end and particularly in the middle, nothing really sounding like you think it should – yet compulsively, explosively interesting throughout.  From maybe the one-third point of Genesis' notorious double album concept The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway concerning a Puerto Rican street punk named Rael who sees the world end one weird morning on Broadway, and finds himself in some purgatorial netherworld wherein …?  Well, even Peter Gabriel (the guy that wrote lyrics and sang the song), is still trying to figure it all out.

NoMeansNo - victory
Maybe the greatest Canadian rock based combo EVER in the history of ANYTHING, weighs in with an epic number from the mid-late 80s that can easily be dedicated to every sorry asshole that ever got his ass handed to him – in a poker game, on some sports field, in battle, in love.  And it's true, I think.  Defeat is inevitable, and humiliation.  Way more so than victory.  So eat it.  Then move on.  But if it's revenge you want, then fuck off.  That shit just eats your soul.  

Sonic Youth - Kotton Krown
Sister was the album where (still young) Sonic Youth seemed to extract themselves from the distortion unit and actually start liking what most people would call music.  Which is not entirely a bad thing.  Kotton Krown suggested it was time to take control of the chemistry again, to manifest the mystery again.  The underground 80s seldom sounded so eloquently psychedelic.

The full countdown list (so far) can be found here

Monday, November 28, 2011

RANDOPHONIC – the program so far …

Randophonic started back in March 2011, a few days before the big earthquake hit Japan.  So program #2 was a weird one, mixing up all the cool new sounds while the Apocalypse seemed to be happening across yonder ocean (not really so pacific).  We honestly didn't know for sure that everything wasn't all about to blow to nuclear smithereens that night.    

Maybe it did.

Unfortunately, we have no podcasts for the first two programs.   So the trail of evidence starts at Program #3, with apocalypse still unfurling roughly 4000 nautical miles due west, now with the added luster of the so-called SuperMoon It seems so long ago now.  

Then maybe two months later, the world ended.  May 21st, 2011.  Or so we were promised.  We got two, maybe three programs out of that.   

Then it was Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday – good for four shows in which we explored "The 70 best Bob Dylan songs you probably haven't already heard".  

Summer 2011 was fun, albeit disjointed.  We did a fill-in for Synaptic Sandwich (the always interesting electro-techno-trance-whatever-you-want-to-call-it show that precedes us Saturday nights at CiTR).  We observed the Nineteenth Annual All Vinyl Barbeque + Apocalypse, or was it just the Ninth?  The good news is, none of the hostages were harmed.

But meanwhile, something BIG was going on off-air, strange rumblings from way deep in the heart of the machine known as the Randophonic Jukebox – all of it directly connected to what we'd come to think of informally as "Random's Apocalypse Stuff".  This would be the boxes upon boxes full of cassettes, reel-to-reels and notes (lots of notes) – not to mention a few tons of aging vinyl.  We'd been hearing whispers about it from the beginning.  But suddenly here it was, the thing that would define the heart of the coming year's programming (with occasional interruptions, sidetracks, meltdowns, shenanigans):

The Randophonic All Vinyl Countdown + Apocalypse
The 1,111 Greatest Records You Probably Haven't Heard 

Installment #1 was scheduled to air on November, 5, 2011, the 496th anniversary of the infamous Gunpowder Plot.  And so it was thus ...