List Item: Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die
God Save the Queen – Sex Pistols
This will be the batch of songs where we say goodbye to the Sex Pistols. They must be one of a select group of artists who not only have two songs listed from the same year, but also the same album. There’s no denying the level of influence that they had.
So, why this song. Well, it’s iconic for being a song that the UK music industry conspired against to prevent it from getting to number one in the singles charts. It’s really pathetic when you look back on it, especially as ‘God Save The Queen’ would now be considered pop-punk. It’s probably my favourite Sex Pistols song, but I’m not sure if that says a lot.
Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk
Where in the English-speaking world we were getting angry at the establishment, in Germany they were inventing a whole new genre of music. We had hints of electronic music being born from the ambient Neu! song from 1975, but here we are with something actual.
I originally listened to the album of the same name a few years ago and I have only appreciated them more and more since then. Songs like ‘Trans-Europe Express’ influenced so much of the music I love that I can only be thankful for it. It’s very simple, but it makes a statement of a new dawn breaking in music.
Sweet Gene Vincent – Ian Dury
Well, isn’t this a really strange song. There’s elements of old 1950s rock and roll here, there’s the scowl of proto-punk, then there’s some balladeering in the beginning and a strong cockney accent that comes out during the chant.
It’s a cool tribute to a rockabilly singer Gene Vincent, whereby Ian Dury mashes up his own style with that of the man he is honouring. Like a lot of interesting music, this caught be completely off-guard and is unlike any genre fusion I’ve heard before.
By This River – Brian Eno
Thanks to the ‘U Talkin U2 To Me’ podcast, I can never think of Brian Eno without Scott Aukerman referring to him as old sourpuss. Not exactly the name that comes to mind when listening to this gorgeous piece of ambient music.
This is another song where we are beginning to see the rise of the synthesizer and this explosion of different sounds to be found in music. ‘By This River’ is gentle and an interesting sign of the influence that Eno is going to have in the future as a producer.
Dum Dum Boys – Iggy Pop
I’ve heard a lot of Iggy Pop as part of the albums list, but that’s back when he was with The Stooges. In 1977, he released his first solo album and ‘Dum Dum Boys’ takes up about 20% of the run time.
This song, like the rest of the album, shows the beginnings of a new sub-genre that lasts to this day: post-punk. ‘Dum Dum Boys’ takes a lot of the punk instrumentation and slows it down to give this weighed down lament to the other members of The Stooges who have come and gone in the past.
It’s like a very rock and roll baptism where, through this song, Iggy Pop casts off his former life and starts on his next chapter… with help from David Bowie.
Com’e profondo il mare – Lucio Dalla
I, uh, don’t really know what to say about this song. I’ve read translations of the lyrics and get how this is a song about the poor situation that many Italians found themselves in during the 1970s (although, I’m not sure how much has really changed since). I’ve read about his life and his successes as a song-writer, but I’m still left with not much to say.
The song has a simple backing, where Dalla tries to fit as many lyrics as he can into each bar before slowing down for the titular repeated refrain. It’s okay as a song, but that’s about it. Not entirely sure what else there is…
Ghost Rider – Suicide
You really cannot look up this band without Google making sure you’re okay and not about to do something irreversible. I just want to tell Google that I’m fine and I just want to listen to this punk-style song about the Marvel comic book character of the same name.
I had the same issues when I listened to the album 18 months ago and still I find the music of Suicide to be such a cool synth-driven style of punk. ‘Ghost Rider’ is just this brilliant little nugget of music that makes you want to repeat it once it is over.
Orgasm Addict – Buzzcocks
After a beautiful piece of synth-punk it is back to the world of punk rock… and the results are making me cringe (not as much as the final song in this line-up makes me cringe, but I’ll be getting there soon enough).
It wouldn’t be as cringe if the moaning songs were taken out… and then I could say that I like it. Again, this just shows how much pop music has hardened as this feels like something we would now term as pop-punk.
Holidays in the Sun – Sex Pistols
‘Holidays in the Sun’ is a such a weird ode to a trip that the band made to West Berlin. It’s a good song, but why is this on the list?
By this point we’ve now heard the Sex Pistols deliver three very similar songs on this list and those placements come at the expense of other genres that aren’t represented. Then again, that’s probably because they’re the iconic Sex Pistols.
Peaches – The Stranglers
I hate this song so much. It makes me cringe so much that I find it so hard to be objective about it. How the hell is this the same band that will give us ‘Golden Brown’ in 1981.
Right, why is this song interesting? Well, it’s another entry that shows how adaptable punk music is and was already proving to be back in 1977. This time it’s a punk-reggae mix with a prominent dirty baseline and a chorus that I hate. Objectively, I get why this is on there, but personally I’d be glad to never hear this song again.