Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Countdown #38 - lost in the supermarket

Broadcast October-13-2012 - 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.  

Human League - hard times
Times are always hard.  It just depends where you're sitting, or in this case, dancing.  Because that's the point.  You can always dance.  Even if you have no legs.  I've seen it done.  At a David Bowie concert, 1983, way at the back of the stadium, a section reserved for folks in wheel chairs etc.  Let's Dance was pounding away (not my fave so I'd taken a bathroom break) ... but holy shit, suddenly it was my fave, evidence that music can't so much cure any affliction as transcend it, because all those folks were finding a way to move.  Human League, of course, isn't David Bowie ... but I'm sure he did inspire them and more to the point, Hard Times does transcend, beautifully.

Clash - lost in the supermarket
This one never had more currency than the summer of 1984.  We dropped a lot of acid that summer, in our mid-twenties by then, old enough to know better, of course, or maybe just go further, through the high and deep complexities of the ever corroding western world whose edges and holes and voids we were compelled to explore.  This meant imbibing strong (yet controlled) doses of the ole lysergic, then going public with it, malls, video arcades, downtown streets, fair grounds, fireworks nights in English Bay -- getting lost in the Supermarket we called it.  Shit yeah.  We could handle any weird thing, even if we were still living with our parents.  

Brian Eno - St. Elmo's Fire
Another Green World is a perfect album title (pretty much perfect album too).  Put it on and you get transported to a very liveable, very agreeable, very different place.  Alien even, but oh so green and achingly beautiful, like a dream, vaguely remembered, with St. Elmo's Fire an actual song easing from the mists halfway through side one, deepening the mystery.  And there's a superlative Robert Fripp guitar solo.

Pink Floyd - see Emily play
Quoting something I wrote back in early 1981 (my own personal psychedelic spring, except it was January, but I was getting there finally, understanding the early Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett still at the helm) "... at the peak of London's psychedelic spring, 1967, touching the edge of the pop envelope with a nice little number about a girl named Emily and the free games for May she played.  And it's perfect, even if moments later Syd Barrett would fall off the edge, get lost forever in shadows.  Because the previous moments were eternal, like something out of Greek myths.  They could never die, just continue, beautiful forever, beautiful now, all these years later."

Elvis Costello - green shirt
David Lee Roth's an ass but he has given us a few good lines.  Money won't buy happiness but it will buy you a yacht that will let you cruise up next to it.  That's one of his.  Also, rock critics like Elvis Costello so much because rock critics look like Elvis Costello.  Which is my way of saying, I don't feel compelled to load this list with Elvis C stuff.  He's had his due already from the critics.  But Green Shirt from 1979's Armed Forces.  That deserves special mention.  Because it's just so tight, so sharp, so pop smart, and mostly overlooked, unheard, un-allergenic. 

Flying Burrito Brothers - sin city
It's Los Angeles, 1968, rumours of earthquakes, impending armageddon, the whole city of angels falling into the Pacific, such that even on the 33rd Floor, beyond the gold plated door, the Lord's almighty flame will find the wicked.  Meanwhile, country rock is getting invented by a curious crowd of drugged out hippies in cowboy suits. 

Steppenwolf - sookie sookie
Malcolm Cale was in my class in Grade Seven.  I guess you could call him a bad kid, because he smoked and, rumour had it, he'd even gotten drunk a few times.  But he was small, quiet, didn't pose much threat, and anyway, we both walked home from school the same way, so we ended up hanging out a fair bit in his big house, which was almost always empty after school.  No parents or brothers and sisters around to stop us digging through his dad's Playboys, sneaking a beer, cranking the stereo loud.  But like pretty much every other kid I knew at the time, he lacked cool records.  Maybe a few Beatles albums, some Rolling Stones, CCR.  And definitely Steppenwolf, their first album, and best, the one with Born to be Wild on it and The Pusher, God Damn him -- we loved that, actual swearing on record.  But the track that stands up best now is Sookie Sookie, funky and strong and cool as John Kay's shades.

Fleetwood Mac - hypnotized
There is no Steely Dan on this list, mainly because you've heard all the good stuff already.  And also, past their first album, I never found much to love anyway.  Too smooth, too easy to listen to (even if it was hard to play), too mid-70s soft rock and sophisticated.  But I always loved Hypnotized, one of those songs that seemed to capture it all, even if I didn't necessarily like what was getting captured, because it was rendered beautiful anyway.  Except I could never find the album.  Because it wasn't a Steely Dan song.  It was Fleetwood Mac, wandering through their vague middle period, somewhere between the 60s psychedelic blues and mid-late 70s cocaine Hollywood.  Hypnotic. 

Steve Miller Band - the beauty of time is that it's snowing [psychedelic B.B.]
Because that's just how things went in those delirious latter 60s days.  Songs broke down, evaporated into seagulls and drones, found some bluesy riff, evolved into profound and visionary choruses, ended up getting titles that had nothing to do with anything you'd actually heard.  Maybe you had to be there, but, of course, we all were, in our way, still are, we the children of that dazzlingly hopeful past's glowing future. 

the beauty of time

Nektar- the dream nebula + it's all in the mind
Two in a row from a 1972 album called Journey to the Centre of the Eye, but damned if I've ever been able to find it.  So these actually come from Nektar's 1978 double compilation called Thru the Ears which is okay, but The Dream Nebula and It's All in the Mind are by far the best cuts.  Full on epic space rock that manages to be progressive and strong and not stupid in any way, mainly because it's not really about outer space, it's about the inner kind, so you feel these guys have actually been there, to the dream nebula, right through the centre of the eye, all in the mind anyway. 

nebula + mind

Isley Brothers - summer breeze
The version of this song I grew up with was the Seals + Crofts original, which was cool at the time, better than average radio fodder.  But the Isley Brothers take things way further, a much hotter breeze, feverish even, yet eminently cool in a latter day psychedelic-funk sort of way. 

Screaming Blue Messiahs - wild blue yonder
Lest there be any doubt, the mainstream 80s sucked.  All those Power Stations, Duran Durans, Huey Lewises -- proof that sadists sat at the controls of the music and radio industries.  Because they did have other options in 1986.  They had Screaming Blue Messiahs who were everything their name promised, loud, proud, mad and fucking good.  But nah, Van Halen was somehow more important, with their new lead singer, Sammy Hagar. 

Nick Drake - northern sky
I had a good friend kill himself when I was nineteen.  It sucked.  There was nothing romantic about it, no great mystery at the heart of it.  He just wasn't up to life and the shit it was throwing at him.  So he bailed, left a pretty nasty note.  Long story short:  I didn't really get over it until I got angry at him, dissolved the friendship as it were.  How Dare You Fucking Bail!  Which goes a long to way to explaining my general suspicion of the culture's various death cults -- the Ian Curtises, the Kurt Cobains, the Jim Morrisons.  I just think it's life we should care about, rolling with it, dealing with, not ending it, intentionally or otherwise.  Which gets us to Nick Drake.  Yeah, I've got a few of his records, original vinyl, likely worth a pretty penny, and nice songs and all, rich with a sort of melancholic folkish soul.  But is any of it really that different than Donovan in his more reflective moments?  And he's still kicking, last I heard, weird and true.  Anyway, there is one Nick Drake song on the list.  A cut called Northern Sky, selected because it predates the death cult.  True he was long dead by the time I heard it in around 1985, but I didn't know that.  It was just there on an obscure compilation called the Great Antilles Sampler, an integral part of the very cool flow.  Folk, experimental, avant-garde, pop, free form jazz.  An album well worth looking for.  And living for. 

Sensational Alex Harvey Band - the man in the jar
I saw these guys in 1975, warming up Jethro Tull.  They had all kinds of props and costume changes, and there seemed to be a story being told.  Maybe concerning the Man In The Jar, which I only got around to hearing (on record) maybe ten years later, bored, picking through a pile of old albums a friend was getting rid of.  The Impossible Dream was an instant keeper, and not just for the one song, the whole album, a sort of sleazy back alley opera about who knows what?  Some kind of impossible dream, obviously.  Which are always the best ones.

Fred Frith - gravity excerpts [rando-EDIT]
This dates back to 1980 but it was deep into the 90s before I ever gave it a proper listen.  Music that was standing the test, no doubt about that.  Or more to the point, music that had confidently showed the way to the cool future we were having.  Rock and jazz and folk and all manner of exotic elements all humming along very nicely together, not world music but the world actually sounded like.

gravity excerpts

Led Zeppelin - in the light
I remember being fifteen or sixteen, hearing this on the radio and thinking, okay, this is serious shit.  This is about something.  Because by 1975, the music you found on the radio was less and less about anything.  It was just predictable gruel, programmed to fill sloppy gaps between advertising.  Not that I was sophisticated enough to voice it as such. I just knew something was fast slipping away, all that cool, significance that had been so prevalent way back when in 1972 and 3.  Because you just don't know when you're that young, twelve-thirteen-fourteen, that that's how the world works -- that it's precisely the best, most beautiful, cool, dramatic stuff that THEY consciously seek to destroy, eviscerate, EAT (and that includes you, you're sweet young flesh).  But you are at least beginning to suspect something.

No comments:

Post a Comment