Wednesday, August 29, 2012

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.  

No comments:

Post a Comment