Friday, May 18, 2012

Countdown #21 - wheels of confusion

Broadcast May-12-2012 - 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.

David Byrne + Brian Eno - mea culpa
Pivotal, seminal, pioneering – My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts is more than just an album without a weak link. It changed music. Like a soundtrack for all your favourite fever dreams. Which meant it was great for epic doses of LSD, assuming you're up to it. I wasn't always. I recall once hearing Mea Culpa at gloomy, January dusk, a riverbank, a cold breeze blowing. We were in the flight path of the local airport. I was convinced an incoming plane was crashing. Then I realized, it wasn't the plane. It was me.

Embryo - Strasse Nach Asien [randoEDIT]
It's 1979. The 60s are over, gone, get over it. Or, if you're a crowd of German hippies with hot musical chops, pile into a bus with a film crew and a load of recording gear and go further, go east, across Persia, Afghanistan, down the sub-continent into India, mix it up with masters and untouchables, deliver something timeless. 

T-Rex - Buick MacKane
We were arguing just the other night, Motron and myself. What's the essential T-Rex album? I was on the side of 1971's Electric Warrior. He wasn't budging from the next one, 1972's Slider. My argument was simple enough. NOTHING could ever top Bang A Gong, heard by my ears a million times, yet my ears still weren't tired. He countered with Buick MacKane, heavy and wild. And more to the point, "A girl named Buick. Did her parents call her that? Was it a nick-name? Did she actually legally change her name? But I don't want to know the real answer. The song is answer enough." We stopped arguing, drank more Scotch. 

Black Sabbath - of confusion
The official history lesson would be something like, " … after three albums inventing and defining what would eventually come to be the CORE of heavy metal – it was time for Black Sabbath to expand, roll with the progressive changes of the moment, but still stay HEAVY." But for me, twelve or thirteen, catching random pieces on late night radio, it was just this unimaginably DEEP stuff that seemed to be about everything that was weird and wrong with the world. Wheels of Confusion indeed, crushing anything that got in their way. And so cool. 

Robert Fripp + Peter Gabriel - exposure [randoEDIT]
Exposure's a song (for lack of a better word) that Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp put together for Gabriel's second album … with PUNK erupting in the background. Bleak, abrasive, creepy – it was determined (it seems) to drive some kind of a wedge. Then, to drive the point home, Fripp made it the title track of his 1979 solo album (his first release after five years in the wilderness, laying low, hanging with various mystics and disciplinarians). Attached now was a different singer (a woman named Terre Roche) who took things even further than Mr. Gabriel to the point of HURTING. Because, to quote Mr. Fripp, " … the old world, characterized by large, unwieldy and vampiric organizations, was dead." And what did the new one sound like? Small, independent, mobile, intelligent. And definitely up for a fight. 

Dave Davies - death of a clown
A darned fine single from the English version of the Summer Of Love, which I wouldn't hear until at least the mid-90s -- my post-grunge phase where I'd listen to pretty much anything that wasn't heavy, angry, and in need of a shave and a haircut. Reminds me of former roommate Dale who had it on one of his all-time fave mixtapes, right next to some John Coltrane as I recall. The mid-90s were like that. 

Eric Clapton - lonesome and a long way from home
Every life has its earworms. This is definitely one of mine. Always just hanging there, ready to slip into consciousness when I'm feeling sorry for myself. Not that I've ever been a huge Eric Clapton fan (Hendrix was always more relevant, and Jimi Page, Steve Howe, Neil Young, Duane Allman). Nor have I been perpetually lonely, and where the hell is home anyway? "It's over there somewhere," as my friend Steve used to say, "Always over there."

Captain Beefheart - Dachau blues
It's 1969 and, with the likes of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin stomping the terra, the blues just keep getting heavier and heavier. But the Captain's way beyond all that. He knows there's no blues heavier than those Final Solution Blues – as lowdown evil as it ever got. From an album where everything else is full-on DADA to the point of utter mayhem, there's no doubt what this one's about. 

Einsturzende Neubauten - morning dew
It's hard to even imagine now what it must've been like to be living in Berlin (east or west) in the mid-1980s. Cold War on steroids, nuclear Armageddon more imminent than at any time since the early 1960s, and you're right there, where the two opposing worlds meet. Yeah, the Wall's doomed to come down in a couple or three years, but you don't know that. As far as you're concerned, it's an eternal fact, obscene and blazing hot with friction. So what do you do about it? You dig deep, sing the blues, maybe smash a few chunks of genuine heavy metal. 
Al Kooper + Stephen Stills - season of the witch
It's called Super Session (Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield + Stephen Stills) but read the fine print and you'll discover they all never actually play together on the same song. But so what? It's hot stuff anyway and the Stephen Stills extended jam on Donovan's creepy Halloween hit goes all kinds of cool places. 

Clash - the call up
Have I raved enough yet about how indispensably, imperfectly essential Sandinista is? Three slabs of vinyl, thirty-six songs, jams, dubs, meltdowns, whatever you want to call them. Not World Music but what the world actually sounded like in 1980 (everything as always happening at once). Including war, here-there-everywhere, young men being called up for duty, all too often heeding it. Which is what the Call-Up's about. Don't fall for it, young man. Remember, there's a rose you want to live for.

Camel - Nimrodel
It must've made perfect sense at the time (the early-mid 70s). Let's write rock songs about Lord Of The Rings stuff. Of course, most of what the world ended up hearing was pretty dumb (even Led Zeppelin fell into that hole). But there's something about Nimrodel (by Camel) that still works. Maybe it's the lack of vocals, and the tendency of the singer to mumble what little he does sing, so you don't really focus on how silly it is. Or maybe it's just the smooth and beautiful sweep of it all, like great winds blowing in off the desert, which isn't really Middle-Earthian at all. More Eastern. One thing is clear. It was great stuff to listen to you when you were high. Still is.

Public Image Ltd - ease
Nobody saw this coming in the mid-80s – Johnny Rotten hooking up with Bill Laswell, Ginger Baker, Riuchi Sakamoto, Stevie Vai, and cranking out the closest thing to Led Zeppelin HEAVY anybody had heard in better part of a decade. Loud, hard, epic even, with Ease being the track that takes things the furthest. Hell, I'm still trying to catch it. 

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