Wednesday, August 29, 2012

oops! some Randophonic podcasts M.I.A.

Due to a major malfunction at CiTR radio, a few of the more recent Randophonic podcasts are temporarily missing in action.  The three most recent shows are fine as is everything before June 29th. CiTR is working to rectify the problem soon. 

Countdown #32 - gut feeling

Broadcast August-25-2012 - 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).  

Devo - gut feeling
Devo were impossible to ignore when the various singles first started hitting in about 1978.  Because there had NEVER been anything like them, even remotely.  Even I got that.  But being the genius I was in my late teens, I found them pretty easy to dismiss.  Fun, but just a gimmick.  I mean, they weren't actually a good band or anything.  Then one day I was hitchhiking, caught a ride with a punk sort of guy who had the first album on, playing loud.  Gut Feeling came on as we were crossing the Second Narrows Bridge, and let's just say, I realized I was wrong, yet again.  

Simple Minds - I Travel
Back in the very early 1980s, before they became huge, absurd and even stupider than their name implied, Simple Minds were pretty cool.  Big, tough beats that weren't afraid to be danceable.  Lots of pumped up sonics, mostly dark, but hinting at an inner light.  And they were kickass live.  I'm guessing I Travel was about being on the road, not that I ever bothered to study it.  Just did what it was telling me, which was hit the dance floor, shake off the ghosts, be glad I was alive.    

Tom Jones - 16 tons
Album title (Wereldsuccessen) says it all, a Dutch compilation that I grabbed one day at a yard sale.  Because Mr. Tom Jones was an international monster at his peak, a force of passion, good humour, not to be taken remotely seriously.  Except maybe when he took on 16 Tons, an old mining song, his Welsh blood rising, giving voice to who knows what ghosts may have been lingering.

Clash - guns of Brixton
Yet another monster from London Calling. More than any other song, I'm thinking this is what hooked me to the Clash.  Because much as I'd dug their punk and powerful raving and drooling, this was obviously something else.  Reggae, I guess, but not really.  Because there was way more going on here than just aping that popular Jamaican sound.  Nah, Guns of Brixton was intense, rife with scattershot noise, full-on revolutionary.  What do you do when the cops bust in?  Face them down like the enemy they are with any means necessary.  

Taj Mahal - done changed my way of living
It says 1968 on the record jacket but this is pure 1990s for me, serving as a personal anthem for a while, as I scaled back certain extremes of lifestyle, making that decision that most of us make as we see our forties looming – to not just burn out, but to age, to CHANGE.  Because change is good, certainly the kind you choose to make.  Like maybe opening your mind, starting to actually like the blues and hot just the heavy howling LOUD Led Zep style stuff.

Genesis - dancing with the moonlit knight
How different were things in 1973?  In 1973 (with Peter Gabriel still the front man) Genesis were the definition of sophisticated, underground cool.  Way too cool for local radio which barely played them.  But you heard about them anyway from various cool older brothers and sisters, saw the occasional photo in Cream magazine. But it was always about the live show, like Alice Cooper apparently, except way more mature.  So when I finally heard them, it wasn't what I was expecting at all.  How could it be?  It was unlike anything I'd ever heard before.  So delicate and then not.  So powerful and mysterious.  The album was Selling England by the Pound.  The first song was Dancing with the Moonlit Knight.  Like slipping into a dense and beautiful dream that you weren't ready for, but here it was happening anyway.

Badfinger - carry on till tomorrow
I've mentioned the tragedy that is Badfinger already.  Two suicides, the two guys that wrote this song as a matter of fact.  But let's not hang on that.  Let's hang on how beautiful it is, how accomplished.  And how glad I am they gave it to the culture, the world, me ultimately.  Because I always seem keep carrying on.  Doesn't seem to be any other option.  

Byrds - everybody's been burned
Because it's true.  If it hasn't happened to you already, it will.  Love will find you, fill you with heavenly light and eventually burn you, maybe tear you apart. 

Aztec Camera - jump
It's difficult to put into words how much I hated Van Halen when they were at their peak.  So maybe just let this cover speak for me, the way it takes the piss out of the monster hit that was Jump, and yet improves on it by serving it up as soft rock, and then it all explodes anyway. Beautiful.   

Deep Purple - lazy [randoEDIT]
Memories of John Masterson, friend of my older brother, definitely a wild one.  He had a souped up Datsun 510 that he loved to bomb around in, so he'd give me rides places just to have an excuse to open it up, burn rubber, go fast.  And I swear he always had the same 8-Track playing, Deep Purple Made In Japan, and it was always the same song.  Not the obvious one, Highway Star.  Nah, John Masterson was hooked on Lazy.

The Edge + Sinead O'Connor - heroine
Interesting that this gem came out in 1987, before Joshua Tree.  Inspires thoughts of an alternate pop-history of the last fifteen or so years.  The Edge falls for Sinead, splits U2.  And the two of them go on to overthrow the Pope, take over the Vatican, end up ruling the world. Bono meanwhile has nothing to better to do so he joins Van Halen after David Lee Roth bails.  Satan retires, moves to Calgary.  A thousand years of peace ensue.   

Wall of Voodoo - lost weekend
As I remember it, Wall of Voodoo started out wanting to make movie soundtrack music, but somewhere along the line, they just started making their own movies, in the form of songs.  I mean, Lost Weekend may be only four of so minutes long on record, but it's feature length where it matters, in my soul.  Smoke a little dope, pour yourself some Scotch and you can see the whole thing play out.

Wings - let me roll it
Apparently this one was written at John Lennon, part of an ongoing feud that had been going on since before the Beatles split.  Lennon's attack songs tended to be full-on nasty, like bitchy little swipes at a former lover.  But Paul was nice.  He never really sank to that level.  Instead, he tended to just do a "John", spit out some generic bile in a John sort of way.  Which in the case of Let Me Roll It gave us one of the truly great post-Beatles Beatles songs.  

Van Morrison - snow in San Anselmo
The experts seem to have pegged this album as a disappointment.  Not me.  I remember it as Side B of the Van Morrison cassette I found in the closet of my new place, 1983, standing on its end on the windowsill, like the previous tenant was offering it as a gift. And it probably was.  Side A had Moondance on it, which I already knew (sort of), various selections in fairly steady rotation on radio through the 70s.  But not Hard Nose.  Hard Nose was all new to me when I finally got around to playing it, totally on a whim, coming down off some okay acid, early morning hours, too exhausted to do anything, too wired to sleep.  And there it was (on a different shelf now), cued to Snow in San Anselmo.  Like an offering from God, or just some friend I never met.

Alice Cooper - hard hearted Alice
It occurs to me that there are three selections from Muscle of Love on this list, not that I'm apologizing.  They're all damned good with Hard Hearted Alice ranking the highest, so it must be the best:  moody, cool, yet not afraid to show a few fangs.  But I guess the audience was growing up at this point (I know I was), getting less fascinated with all things gory, gothic, gruesome (other things that start with G), maturing into the likes of Elton John, Electric Light Orchestra, The Eagles (other things that start with E).  Because Muscle of Love was definitely the end of something.  Yeah, there would still be Alice Cooper albums for some time, but the group was finished.  That is, Mike Bruce, Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith and a guy named Alice (who sang lead, sometimes wore dresses, and was known to smash baby dolls to pieces) would no longer make beautiful-ugly music together.  Now it would be just Alice (and various industry pros) and not much to get excited about. 

Orb - earth [gaia]
You've probably noticed there's not much stuff on this list from the 1990s even though the cut-off date is 2000.  That's because I generally didn't buy new vinyl past about 1989.  Is this fair to the 1990s?  No.  And I'm sorry about that.  Sorry, decade.  This list is not fair.  This list does not do you justice.  This list is not definitive.  Yet it does have some Orb on it, from 1991's The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, because I had to have that on vinyl, all four sides of it, something I could look at BIG, while it played BIG, not unlike the known (and unknown) universe.  

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.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Countdown #30 - the way of the world

Broadcast August-11-2012 - 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 actually listen to the show.  The full countdown list (so far)

Max Q - the way of the world
Yes, that is Michael Hutchence laying out the bleak hard truth care of his "other" band, the very short-lived Max Q, which co-existed with INXS but only briefly.  One album, no tours.  But it found me anyway.  Must've been the lyrics:  You are born into this world - Looking down the barrel of a gun - And those who hold the gun - Want you to work fast and die young - And if you don't work - If you don't obey - They'll make you live in fear till your dying day.  And that's just the first half of the first verse.

Maggie Bell - wishing well
Wishing Well is one of those songs I was aware of for a while without actually being conscious of it (if that makes any sense) percolating around in the background, never too loud, never overplayed.  But that was Free's version, the original.  It took Maggie Bell's cover to make me pay attention, ask the essential question.  Why the hell haven't I heard more Maggie Bell?  I'm still wondering.

Chris + Cosey (CTI) - the need
Mysterious live performance from somewhere in Europe, 1983.  Chris + Cosey (late of Throbbing Gristle) exploring strange sonic regions via the nebulously labelled CTI - European Rendezvous album.  This was the kind of thing you'd record off the CITR late at night, the DJ never telling you what it was, or who was doing it.  Then maybe a decade later, a friend would put it on, and, "Holy shit!  Who is this?"  

Doors - [love hides] five to one
I had a copy of the Doors Absolutely Live kicking around for years before I actually listened to it, inherited from somebody or other.  I guess I was just going through a long  phase of not being into Jim Morrison and his bullshit, poetic and otherwise.  But finally, early 90s maybe, I put it on and got blown away.  What a hot band!  Singer had something too – not remotely afraid to howl the truth, however ugly it seemed.  In the case of Five To One, it seemed to have something to do with death and war.

Assembly - never never
Feargal Sharkey (ex of power pop heroes the Undertones) teams up with the guy from Yaz and slays the pop universe with a lovely little lack-of-love song.  They called themselves the Assembly, like they were a band, and maybe they were, but I never heard another song from them.  Which makes Never Never pop perfect.  Talk about not overstaying your welcome.  

XTC - Jason + the Argonauts
Five albums into their career and XTC were ready for something big.  And big was definitely the word for 1982's double album English Settlement.  Yeah, there were a few singles, but the songs worked best together, all in a flow.  Probably because of the sound, the way so much of it had an acoustic edge at a time when everyone else in the biz seemed to be going electronic, usually badly.  And no, there's nothing remotely bad here.

Wall of Voodoo - tse tse fly
The album's called Dark Continent and the song's called Tse Tse Fly (both references to Africa) but it's all really about America.  It's always about America.  The jangly guitars, the cheap drum machines and scrapyard percussion bits.  And all that shadow around the edges.  What could be more American?  

Gram Parsons - 1000 dollar wedding
Guilty as charged.  I was that kind of asshole when I was younger – happy to tell you how much I hated ALL country music.  I was wrong, of course.  Hating all of any kind of music is like hating a part of your soul.  Because in what other form but Country could you take a simple song about a simple wedding gone wrong and turn it into something epic – not remotely maudlin, sentimental, greasy.

REM - Cuyahoga
I gave up trying to figure out what Michael Stipe was singing about very early on.  The first few albums, he was mumbling anyway, which made it easy.  But then, starting with Life's Rich Pageant, he was suddenly enunciating.  So you could hear the words – they just weren't adding up.  Except maybe Cuyahoga.  Because I'd read about the Cuyahoga in a National Geographic as a little kid.  It was the issue all about pollution, and how man was poisoning the world in a million different ways.  And the Cuyahoga was the river that actually caught fire, Cleveland, Ohio, 1969.  Who needs meaning in the face of something like that? 

Violent Femmes - kiss off
If you were halfway cool in 1983, you were hip to the Violent Femmes first album.  No, none of the commercial radio stations were playing it, but you'd long ago given up on them anyway.  They didn't tell the truth about anything, except maybe how much they hated you.  Unlike the Femmes, who couldn't not be blunt, horny, mad, honest – sometimes annoyingly so.  But not with Kiss Off.  Kiss Off hit it all just right, particularly the part where Gordon Gano counts them all down:  his ten points of rage, frustration, spite, EVERYTHING.  

Jethro Tull - wind up
Christmastime 1972, a party at family friends.  I'm thirteen and barely old enough to be hanging with the big kids.  Just shut up and sit in the corner.  And then they all go outside to smoke a joint.  They even invite me along, but no way, not with my parents barely fifty feet away.  Which leaves me alone with the record that's playing – Aqualung by Jethro Tull, getting to the end of Side Two, a song about religion and adult bullshit, which I had no problem agreeing with, particularly the part about God not being a simple toy.  You didn't just wind Him up once a week, say few prayers and then get on with your weekly evil – lying, cheating, stealing, business as usual.  Nah, if there was a God worth giving a shit about, He or She or It had to be way bigger, more complicated and powerful than that.  The same still holds.    

Blurt - gravespit
Maybe you had to be there.  Mid-80s, the Winter Of Hate in full ugly bloom – the kind of cultural moment where a nasty, spiteful little ditty about spitting on somebody's grave wasn't just vaguely acceptable, it was exactly what the world required.  Because twenty years previous, the Summer Of Love was just chugging into gear with all its bullshit.  Thus was the cosmic balance finally restored.  

Yes - the gates of delirium
I remember being fourteen or fifteen and hearing this get played on one of the commercial radio stations, all 20-plus minutes of it.  I remember my jaw dropping.  It would've been late 1974, maybe 1975.  Little did I realize that an era was fast ending – that very soon the men in black who who decided such things would have no use for crazy, cosmic, dense, intense side long epics about mystical warriors in mythical lands busting through great gates of delirium.  Or whatever Gates of Delirium was about.  It was definitely about war, burning children's laughter to hell.  Although I remember a few years later, a friend saying, "But it's really about everything.  That's the problem with Yes.  Their songs aren't really about anything.  It's always everything.  Which is always another way of saying nothing.  But fuck, they can play."