Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wednesdays With Harry?!

Happy Wednesday folks, and welcome to the 30th week of WWA! 

Guys - very special episode to mark our pearl anniversary (in weeks, not years..) of doing this shit. My main man Harry has curated a fantastic playlist that feeds off the stranger and crustier edges of 60s psychedelic rock. Love the proto punk selection, and couldn't agree more with the sentiment on punk rock being more about experimentation and attitude, as opposed to rigid sonic categorizations. 

And here is the web player link, for those of you lugs with no Spotify desktop app.

Take 'er away Harry...

"I fucking hate Pink Floyd." 

It used to almost be a badge of honor for punks in the emerging scene of the mid 1970s to rebel against stadium rock. That's what punk was all about, right? Rejecting the over-marketed, over-commercialized, over-engineered world of corporate record labels? Yeah, it's been done before, but I'm here to talk about why Pink Floyd was a foundational influence to modern punk. An extra 40 years of perspective helps too.

If you're still with me, awesome-- you're in for a ride. If not, fuck off, you're not reading this anyway. This week's playlist is in 2 parts: the punkest Pink Floyd songs and later songs that were influenced by them. 

Pink Floyd (I'm not going to call them 'Floyd' or 'The Floyd' because it makes me sound like an asshole) wasn't always about gigantic stadium shows and spectacle; in fact, that's a big reason the group fractured in 1985. Our playlist opens up with a good example of something that was never a commercial darling: Interstellar Overdrive. Yeah, it's psychedellic and I can forgive anyone that can't take the full 10 minutes, but do yourself a favor and listen to at least the first 2. The raw riffs and pounding bass lines here were some of the first of their kind over 50(!) years ago when it was written in 1966. Coming out of the 50s and early 60s era of clean-cut, non-offensive 2-minute pop songs, Interstellar Overdrive used some cutting edge delay effects and mixing meant to create a sense of disorientation. It was referred to by the band's manager Peter Jenner as "the weird shit." Deference to Syd Barrett is nothing new to the indie/punk scene but he wasn't the only element that created this sound.

There's no official release of Vegetable Man or Scream Thy Last Scream available, so here's are a couple covers by Jesus and Mary Chain cover and the Vegetable Men, both of which are pretty true to the originals. They're acid-soaked, deranged outtakes from then frontman Syd Barrett. If there was ever a godfather of experimental, non-radio-friendly brilliance, Barrett's your man. You can literally hear him slipping into insanity as you go through his catalog.

Getting into the post-Barrett era when David Gilmour entered the band, we are treated to some really dirty, heavily improvised tracks. The Nile Song is one of those with a ton of distortion, chord and solo heavy with rough vocals. I love it. It's a great example of what the band gets to do when left to their own devices and, when you consider this was written in 1969, you start to hear some proto-sounds that would eventually evolve into metal, punk, and grunge. The Nile Song is what I would point to when anyone wonders how Pink Floyd could have influenced Nirvana. We've also got One of These Days, with a driving bass line and some killer sonic guitar.

Finally, rounding on the OG Pink Floyd contributions, I had to add something from the latter stadium rock days. Sheep is off their Orwellian Animal Farm-themed album ("Animals," go figure). Lots of quicker guitar work and angry (the concept wasn't so contrived at the time) lyrics, it's a much cleaner sound than the earlier entries and the last one I would consider as a spiritual predecessor before things took a turn for the modern with The Wall and later, softer efforts.

The Soft Boys have never been shy about the sources of their influence, so I chose Queen of Eyes which, yeah, it's not the hardest song ever, but you can hear the 1960s crystal clear here.

With straight up collaboration, The Damned's second album was actually produced by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. The whole album is a really good, clean followup to their debut. I picked Creep, because what the hell.

We've got Psychedelic Punkaroo by Twink and the Fairies, and disagree with me if you want, but I can swear I hear something in the background piano and beat that brings me back to that first album from 1967.

Finally, we finish off with Dark Asteroid by The Damned. This song is a straight up tribute to Syd Barrett and you can practically hear the riffs getting pulled out of older Pink Floyd songs.

In the end, it's really more about attitude and experimentation from the 60s and 70s that helped pave the way for that later punk sound. While there are some songs and bands directly influenced, a lot of the early experimentation and the desire to slip some different sounds in between the more commercially known singles is what helped shape the legacy of Pink Floyd. It's why they went from being hated by punks to what's now kind of a guilty pleasure. 

Yours strangely,

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