Tag Archives: 1001 songs

1001 Songs – 1980: Part One

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

The Winner Takes It All – ABBA

‘The Winner Takes It All’ is one of the greatest pop songs made – one of the greatest pop acts of all time. It’s difficult to take the band members at their word that this song about the destruction of a marriage is not about them. If not about them directly, it was clearly shaded – their own experiences and was a massively cathartic song to both be written and sung.

The lyrics brilliantly mix the metaphor of life as a game versus the stark reality of having judges and lawyers decide the outcomes of a divorce. Then there is is Agnetha’s solo vocals from the point of view of a woman who apologizes to her ex-husband for having won everything in the divorce settlement. It’s such a different perspective, the guilt of a winner, compared to a normal break-up song about someone who has ostensibly lost everything. She’s still lost so much, but in the eyes of others she has won. It’s here on the list because of this wonderful song production and who else has made a song that breaks your heart from the point of view of someone who just won their divorce settlement. It’s genius that makes me cry.

Rapture – Blondie

‘Rapture’ is in all the quiz trivia books to be the first song to top the US Billboard Charts with a rap element. Listening to it now, this fusion of disco and hip-hop – a new wave group, is like nothing else that I’ve heard on the list. It’s not really like anything else that I’ve really heard released since. Debbie Harry’s rap skills aren’t great, as she has said since, but let’s also appreciate that the first song with rap elements to top the charts was fronted – a woman.

At this point in musical history, rap had yet to become as big as it was – let alone have a whole song constructed around a rap rather than using an existing backing track. It helped raise awareness of a then more underground genre as well as contribute to paths later pursued – hip hop artists. So yes, an interesting part of music history right here.

While You See A Chance – Steve Winwood

Something has clearly changed in 1980. This is a song that I can’t imagine really existing in 1979 – a rock song with synths and an ABBA-inspired piano line. There’s also part of this song that screams Paul Simon and Randy Newman to me about elements of it too. This… this is early electro-pop. Not the kind of moodiness you get in Gary Numan, but a lighter mood to it. Like this is the sort of song where I can see the beginnings of a branch of pop music that would eventually lead to the work that Xenomania did in the 2000s and 2010s.

With the rise of the New Romantics and more electronic instruments coming in, this is going to be such a cool decade to be listening to. Especially since punk has exploded and we’re left with the remnants fighting it out for innovation.

Heartattack and Vine – Tom Waits

Compared to his last song of his on the list, ‘Heartattack and Vine’ is closer to the Tom Waits that I was enjoying in swordfishtrombones. That voice is the song equivalent of a whisky on the rocks. Literal rocks. Driveway gravel kind of rocks. This is still not as experimental as I have later seen him, but it’s very much him setting up his own cabaret stage and waiting for us to settle in to whatever he is going to deliver.

Kings of the Wild Frontier – Adam and the Ants

So, rather than ‘Prince Charming’ or ‘Stand and Deliver’, the book has decided to go for this earlier single. Now that I’ve heard it, yes the book made the right choice. After all, this isn’t meant to be the 1001 best songs, but down to other factors including their influence.

All the elements that I know from other Adam and the Ants songs are here. The powerful Burundi drum line. The flamboyance of the vocal delivery. The cheers and response vocals from the rest of the group. Sure, it is not as catchy as the later singles that have become staples on Best of 1980s collections – but it’s weirdly powerful. This has yet to veer off into the new wave and pop direction, instead this is one of the many routes that post-punk chose to go down. It makes for a very interesting song.

Redemption Song – Bob Marley & The Wailers

This is not like any Bob Marley song I have ever heard. This isn’t even reggae at this point. It’s an acoustic ballad where the only thing that is remotely reggae is Marley’s delivery. Other than that, this is a folk song. A type of folk song whose background I have heard in folk artists like Bob Dylan and in some country music (the one that immediately came to mind being the title track of ‘All American Made’ by Margo Price, who name checks Tom Petty).

It’s a song of quiet power which is given more power – how close to death he was when writing and recording it. Makes me a bit glad that I still have one Bob Marley album to listen to for the albums list – now I can have this in mind when giving it a go.

Dead Souls – Joy Division

‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is coming up in a future 1001 songs post, but before that it’s a song that got right under my skin.

‘Dead Souls’ as a piece of goth rock is unsettling. Hearing Ian Curtis sing this song about past lives and being ripped apart as they call you is even more unsettling when you know that he will have killed himself within a few months of recording this. There is an intense eeriness when you mix these odd lyrics with his tortured delivery and the dark drive of the guitars and bass. It’s a weird one to end the section of songs on, but I think I need a break after this.

Progress: 533/1021

1001 Songs – 1979: Part Three

Usually for these posts I insert YouTube clips so you can listen along, this plugin doesn’t appear to be working anymore. Sorry about that.

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Outdoor Miner – Wire

Not sure I’ve ever heard of a label asking a band to make a song longer for a single, but with the album version clocking in at a slender 01:44 – you can see where they were coming from. This is a post-punk song that has the potential for mass commercial appeal – like I can hear this song in a lot of music I listen to that’s being made now, but also it feels like a song that could have been in a car commercial. Really like this one.

Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang

Thanks to comedian Paul F. Tompkins, I cannot hear the name ‘Sugarhill Gang’ without thinking of his character Cal Solomon.

This is not the first rap single. I’ve heard rap before when doing this list, so I am already seeing this as a bit of a development from there. It’s also weird that I’ve heard ‘Good Times’ by Chic, which this song samples heavily.

What this is, is one of the most important singles in American history because of how it helped to raise the profile of rap. It was controversial at the time since it took an art form that is improvisational by nature and gave permanence to a single performance.

California Über Alles – Dead Kennedys

Given how quickly it appears that punk exploded in 1977 and left post-punk in its wake – it’s interesting to actually hear some purer punk that was still going on. I mean it makes complete sense that these bands would still be going, but it took a lot of songs before we got here.

Weirdly though, I cannot hear the delivery of this song without thinking of ‘Rock Lobster’ by the B-52s. Means that there must be a surf rock element here holding it all together, but the predominant genre is very much punk.

Typical Girls – The Slits

Back in the world of post-punk, but this time with a bit of a reggae influence. Also, one of the rarer instances of an all female punk group – giving a different perspective in this genre than I’ve really had before. Because of the reggae guitar breaks, this isn’t really a song for me – but it is interesting to hear a very different take of a genre that I’ve heard a lot of in these 1001 posts.

Atomic – Blondie

For me, ‘Atomic’ is one of the great songs. The lyrics mean nothing, but you cannot help but sing along to them. It’s a genre mash-up of new wave, rock and manages to fit in a disco-style dance break. The beginning guitars are a rip-off of the kid’s song ‘Three Blind Mice’. Somehow all of these elements make this brilliant feel-good song. Maybe I’m biased because I love Blondie, but it sounds like nothing else on this 1001 list.

Gangsters – The Specials

I don’t usually like ska, but wow if this song didn’t crawl into my head. I have yet to listen to the debut album by The Specials for the albums challenge, but after listening to ‘Gangsters’ I think that their take on the genre might appeal to me. After all, this is the band that gave us ‘Ghost Town’, so I should have had a bit of faith. It’ll be interesting to see how I respond to a full album of this though.

Cars – Gary Numan

The second Gary Numan song (after Tubeway Army’s ‘Are Friends Electric’) in the 1979 section of the 1001 list and it is another classic of synth music. Like, this is one of those songs that I don’t think I have ever heard all the way through before outside of playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but it is so synonymous with this era and style of music that I feel I heard parts of it for all of my life.

I don’t think I know any of his music from after 1979, like he basically threw all his tricks into one big year and then just became irrelevant after he became iconic. Very strange.

Babylon’s Burning – The Ruts

A technically proficient song where we see another reggae-infused punk song, this time with a harder rock vocal and overall feel to it. Honestly, that’s all I have to say on it. It’s a decent enough song, but I’m not sure I find it too interesting.

Message in a Bottle – The Police

And so we close out the 1970s for the 1001 list after who knows how many years and posts. We have seen the rise and explosion of punk, the emergence and destruction of disco and the resilience of reggae to outlast so many other genres. It’s fitting therefore to end on a song that infuses two of the three big musical trends.

‘Message in a Bottle’ is no ‘Roxanne’, then again few songs are, and it’s weird for me to hear Sting put on a full reggae accent when I mostly know his voice from ‘Every Step You Take’. I’m, again, not the biggest fan of this sub-genre of music but it’s one of the better songs of this batch.

Progress: 526/1021

1001 Songs – 1979: Part Two

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Gloria – Umberto Tozzi

Okay, so like a lot of people I know the Laura Branigan version and had no idea that it was a over of this Italian disco track. When we’ve been doing tracks for the 1001 list and are thrown a French or Italian song, it’s usually to give a sample of something a bit different that was alongside the English-language songs that dominate the list.

In this instance, however, this is very much a related movement. After all this is the country that bore Morodor aka the father of disco – which would not have happened in isolation. It’s actually really cool to hear this take on disco, one without the prolonged dance breaks… but we’ve already heard a better version of this in ABBA’s ‘Voulez Vous’. Still though, I love hearing these originals.

Black Eyed Dog – Nick Drake

This is a real cheat. Nick Drake was already dead for five years by the time this demo came out on a compilation box. Granted, this was the compilation box that caused a massive re-evaluation in his music and resulted in his subsequent elevation in the musical canon – but this hauntingly beautiful song is so out of time.

‘Black Eyed Dog’ was one of the final songs that Nick Drake recorded before his suicide which gives this song about depression an even more haunting sense of relevance. It’s a real whiplash to have this in between a disco song and one of the great early electric pop songs though. I’m going to need a minute.

Are “Friends” Electric? – Gary Numan & Tubeway Army

Where ‘Black Eyed Dog’ was out of time because of the posthumous release, ‘Are “Friends” Electric?’ is out of time for being so out there for 1979. At this point Kraftwerk and other electronic acts from Germany are where you can hang this, but this song by Gary Numan and Tube is already a few more stages removed from that.

It’s this weird mix of new wave, post-punk, electronica, synth-pop and ambient. I mean I would want to call it prog-synth if I wasn’t sure that existed as a sub-genre that I would probably dislike. This song is extraordinary given the time, which is all the more extraordinary given how it topped the charts in the UK. I guess people really were looking for the next thing after disco.

Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure

A bit of a nice and inoffensive pop-rock here that further serves to remind me that The Cure are actually from the UK and not, as I keep thinking, American. It’s an interesting step for the post-punk movement and a very weird to actually hear The Cure making this sort of music before that began to have more of a goth and alternative rock look rather than this piece of new wave.

The Cure is one of those bands I keep saying that I need to give more a go to. Just give me the time I guess.

Good Times – Chic

At 90 seconds in, it felt like this song had already blown it’s load. By minute three when the dance break began on this 8 minute song I had had enough. Look, it’s a product of it’s time and I am not opposed to long songs (hell, ‘Only Skin’ by Joanna Newsom is 17 minutes long and I adore that). Thing is, this dance break lacks punch and it isn’t worth the 4-5 minutes you spend on it.

What is really interesting is how the idea of ‘Good Times’ in the lyrics is tinged with irony. I wish I could have felt that more in the song, but boy do I appreciate that sentiment.

Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson

This is how you do a disco song. I have heard this song a lot in my life and it still is able to maintain that huge joie de vivre that you are meant to get from a disco song. Hell, this is still as repetitive in places as other disco songs but it has enough variation in the instrumentation and in the arrangements to keep you engaged.

There is no denying that the duo of Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones led to moments of genius – but with this is just feels like they learned from the disco out at the time and found a way to right all the things that could have held it back. Such a great song.

Lost in Music – Sister Sledge

Another song in our disco stretch, the second of the three that was produced by Nile Rodgers from Chic. After hearing disco being done brilliantly by Michael Jackson it is near impossible to compare these two songs – which is a resounding loss for Sister Sledge. I was there with them for the first three minutes and then it was just this… variation-free repetition.

Disco is over soon, right?

Brass in Pocket – Pretenders

New wave. Check. Female vocalist. Check. Upbeat with a killer chorus. Check.

My husband cottoned on immediately that this was one of those songs I adore. My big smile the moment it started will have helped too because I know it very well. Plus, I crossed the parent album from this not too long ago and have been enjoying that ever since.

 

1001 Songs – 1979: Part One

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Hammond Song – The Roches

It’s nice to be back in the 1001 songs list. Weird how with the coronavirus lock-down we have somehow not been having time to do these – then again this is only the second weekend of what might be a long time. Anyway, let’s go back to 1979 as a bit of a temporary escape and wrap ourselves in the stunning harmonies of the Roche sisters. Not since doing the Mamas and the Papas have I heard such incredible harmonies in a folk song in this songs list.

Hammond is a place and not, as I thought, a reference to a Hammond organ. The production is minimal with the volume of the harmonies occasionally overwhelming my speakers and, probably, the causing the recording equipment to peak. With them, a guitar and another backing instrument I am not sure of, the voices of the sisters truly shine. It’s a stunning piece of folk that has a beautiful simplicity that you just don’t see nowadays.

Heaven – Talking Heads

I liked Remain in Light and have liked a number of other things that David Byrne has done before or since this song. However, I am at odds as to why this song would be included. It makes sense if you are making a list of David Byrne songs you must hear in order to hear his different facets, but there are any number of produced secular visions out there so I am not sure why this was chosen for the list. It’s fine and might make more sense in the context of the parent album, but not so much as a standalone.

The Eton Rifles – The Jam

I didn’t know this song by name, but the moment the chant of ‘Eton Rifles’ came in I had this big moment of recognition. As a genre work, ‘The Eton Rifles’ has definite punk leanings but feels very sixties. Guess that this is the sort of music that was another off-shoot of the punk implosion and a song that, given the lack of testing for coronavirus for those unable to pay for it, feels relevant once again as a poke at the upper classes playing pretend. I can see how Paul Weller would be apoplectic that an Etonian like David Cameron would love the song he wrote – but then again it’s a good shout song no matter your politics.

London Calling – The Clash

Man, it’s been years since I wrote up the parent album as part of my Acclaimed Albums list. This is an actual apocalyptic song and I am listening to it at a time when people are using that word rather cavalierly. Good grief, so many of these songs are making me think of the coronavirus pandemic happening in the world outside the apartment. The apocalypse in here is more about nuclear apocalypse because of this being written during the Cold War – not being devastated by some sort of awful virus.

Like ‘The Eton Rifles’, ‘London Calling’ is another song whose genre is a concoction made in the wake of punk. This time, it’s a punk feeling with a reggae beat in the back – which I guess as a genre would soon start to crystalise into ska. I would hope that the next song would help take me away from coronavirus, but it’s Joy Division.

Transmission – Joy Division

Ah yes transmission, like the transmission of coronavirus. Sorry, I’ll be good. This has absolutely nothing that can make me think of the pandemic other than the need to sometimes just accept and dance like no one’s watching until we all fall down.

‘Transmission’ is amazing. Like a proper amazing post-punk song that is so cavernous in it’s sound that it makes me think of the xx if they ever decided to go punk. There is a truth in this song that sometimes ignorance is bliss, so just dance to the radio and what you are being fed. In modern times, where we are more and more inundated with all the information available on the internet, a song like this can still apply to the echo chambers we create online that have helped create flat-earth and anti-vaxx movements. For me, it might become a good song to make me stop checking news constantly through the lock-down and just dance.

Voulez-Vous – ABBA

Okay, I am always happy to see ABBA on a list like this. I adore them as a band to the point of having gone to the ABBA museum in Stockholm and will play their albums every now and then. Maybe it’s because I love them that I am interested as to why ‘Voulez-Vous’ is one of the three songs to end up on the 1001 list. Like, I really get ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘The Winner Takes It All’, but this feels like a more normal song of theirs.

Then again, this is a song that marks the end of disco. It’s the only song of theirs that I can think of that has a prolonged dance break – let alone a disco dance break. And, unlike the disco breaks elsewhere, ABBA knew how to pitch the timing perfectly so you didn’t get too bored or too tired. Sure, there is a mix out there with a longer break for the clubs but thank you ABBA for making a good at home version.

Beat the Clock – Sparks

Right, so I adored ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us’ because of the glam and gun shot ridiculousness. I don’t know why, but I never went outside of that song to explore more of their discography. With ‘Beat the Clock’ that is going to change. Listening to this I had two main thoughts – firstly how amazing is it that synthpop is finally here in the 1001 list. Also, holy hell this is exactly what you consider 1980s music and the Sparks managed to pre-date thanks to this collaboration with Giorgio Moroder. It never ceases to amaze me when this list throws up a song like this which pre-dates what you expect, but this one in particular has given me so much joy.

Oliver’s Army – Elvis Costello & The Attractions

A new wave song with ABBA keyboards and a catchy chorus that is in fact a comment on The Troubles in Northern Ireland – the titular Oliver being a reference to Oliver Cromwell and his army who invaded Ireland in the 1600s. I am always a fan of a song that sounds cheerful but, under the surface, is a darker side – so ‘Oliver’s Army’ is right up my street. The melody is upbeat and so well written as a counter-point to the lyrics which reference The Troubles as well as the Berlin Wall and acts of British imperialism. It’s radio-friendly almost pop, that slam you when you read the lyrics – plus the cover of the parent album is glorious to look at.

Tusk – Fleetwood Mac

Ending the first third of 1979 with the first single released by Fleetwood Mac after the cultural juggernaut of Rumours. This is something that is utterly different and you have to appreciate the risk that a song like this would have been for a band who were having to make a follow-up to one of the biggest albums of all times.

It’s pretty much all drums and the occasional brass interruption. Sure there are some lyrics in here, but they’re secondary to the relentless drumbeat – based on the music that was used when they would come out on stage when on tour. The change in direction is interesting and I would like to see where this more avant-pop leads them on an album, as a standalone song I am yet to be convinced.

Progress: 509/1021

1001 Songs – 1978: Part Three

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Ambition – Subway Sect

All I can think off when listening to this, is that this is what post-punk would sound like if the instruments you had available to you had to come from a fairground. Like, the backing every now and then has the sound of an organ grinder. We’re just missing a monkey in a waistcoat begging for pennies.

Seriously though, this circus punk instantly made me smile. Maybe because all I could think of was monkeys and clowns. It’s a decent enough song, but at this point I’ve heard so many of this style that, apart from my own strange imagery, I don’t think it’s anything too new.

Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie & The Banshees

This song, it’s named a Chinese takeaway a few towns over from me – which is still open. The song is inspired by (and at times about) this takeaway that Siouxie Sioux; the first Chinese takeaway that she frequented. Oh man, how I wish they would deliver to me.

Anyway, this is a song that is new wave with bits of punk and some ‘eastern’ elements delivered via a gong and a glockenspiel. It’s actually sweet that she wrote this almost as she was never able to intervene when the workers in that restaurant would get racially abused by the clientele. It’s probably one of those songs where I have fallen more for the background than the actual song, but it’s still a well-crafted song that is very different to other songs in the genre.

Being Boiled – The Human League

As a kid, I must have played by Human League Greatest Hits album a ridiculous amount of time. Except for this song. Why? Because this is the track my dad would skip and so, being 7, so did I. So, here I am 23 years later and I am finally listening to the song.

This is so different to everything else I’ve heard from the Human League – then again I know them more once they went full New Romantic/New Wave and where all other members of the band (except vocalist Philip Oakey) had changed. Also, the original version is so much better than the re-recorded version for Travelogue. The original is dark, atmospheric, vaguely unsettling and unlike anything else I’ve heard for the list so far. Strange to think how far removed this is from the song that would give the group (well, Oakey anyway) worldwide renown.

Rock Lobster – The B52’s

New wave is such a broad church of musical genres – especially with a song like ‘Rock Lobster’ which is fused with surf rock. Seriously, it’s like if Brian Wilson wrote Booker T’s ‘Green Onions’ whilst being hit on the heat repeatedly with a coconut. It’s just such a weird song and I cannot help but giggle every time it’s own.

Maybe the reason it works so well is that the band is so committed. Like, there is no hesitation in his vocals. Is there going to be a poorly performed dolphin impression? Yes, but to them it’s the best impression in the world. The moment they get to the aquatic life at the end I’m gone. What a dumb, but brilliant song.

Roxanne – The Police

For a small group of people, this song will be forever linked to ‘Remedial Chaos Theory’ – an episode of Community which is one of the best episodes of television of the 2010s. In this episode, ‘Roxanne’ is the song that one of the characters continually tries to sing only to be put down by another member of the group – the ending being the whole group (minus the one stopping the singing) singing and dancing around the room to ‘Roxanne’.

It’s also linked in my brain to the excellent tango interpretation from Moulin Rouge. Man, I know this song from a lot of places. It’s actually pretty interesting to hear reggae music starting to creep into rock without becoming ska. Ska will come soon, but for now we have this excellent song about a man falling in love with a prostitute.

Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones

We’re reaching the end of the 1970s and it’s gratifying to know that the best elements of 1960s power pop can still be found. I’ve never heard of this song, or this group, before but listening to this song has given me goosebumps. This feels like the possible next modernisation step for ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ by the Buzzcocks – only for it to flop and this group to be vaguely remembered as a one-hit wonder.

I don’t know what it is about this song that gets me so much – but it does and I love it.

Germ Free Adolescents – X-Ray Spex

This song makes me feel anxious. I don’t know why, but there’s something in the overlapping in the backing tracks that is really making me feel on edge. Not sure that’s intent and more to do with anxiety I am feeling at the moment. So yea, moving on from this punk song that… yea I’m not liking how it makes me feel.

Runnin’ with the Devil – Van Halen

Final song of the year AND song number 500. As it stands right now, I will need to listen to this album for my albums list – but it’s precariously perched at #244 so likely to fall off at the next update. With this song, we see the beginnings of ‘hair rock’ and is the only song in this batch from 1978 that doesn’t fall into the new-wave/post punk group.

It’s not exactly my sort of music, but I can get why people into harder rock might enjoy it. I think I’ll find out more about my feelings for this song when I eventually get to the album whether it be as part of the 250 or when I expand out the albums list.

Progress: 500/1021

1001 Songs – 1978: Part Two

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Human Fly – The Cramps

With a traditionally country chord progression in the background (I know, I was surprised at myself for noticing that too) played on more distorted instruments with a punk feel to it – ‘Human Fly’ is not quite the genre mash-up I was expecting today. It’s called psychobilly and like nothing I have heard on this list so far.

What’s interesting about taking something so quintessentially country (or rockabilly) and making it punk is how it makes the whole thing just that bit more unsettling than if it was a straight punk song. Very niche though, so can see how it never really took off.

Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) – The Jacksons

It’s amazing how you get these songs how you primarily know for the chorus. From the title and the first verse, I had absolutely no clue which song this was. I’m assuming I’ve heard a sample of it in a film or this has been remixed at some point down the line.

Like with all disco, I am glad that Spotify has a radio version – as at nearly 4 minutes it was already getting overly repetitive. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great chorus, but it needs more than that.

(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea – Elvis Costello & The Attractions

I know that I have listened to this for the albums list. Over four years ago, and I haven’t listened to the albums since. I wonder if my taste has already mutated enough since then to give them more of a go, because this is already sounding a lot better than I remembered. I also finally twigged that the Stefy song ‘Chelsea’ took inspiration from this, so basically I’m only properly listening to this now.

I really enjoy the new wave aspect to this track, which is what I said I liked about the parent album This Year’s Model, and I really need to follow up on this in the new year before I get bogged under by 2020 albums.

One Nation Under a Groove – Funkadelic

Inadvertently ended up with the album version of this song rather than the shortened 7-inch single version. This didn’t mean the slow death that I had expected, sure it’s still too long at over 7 minutes, but there’s enough variation to actually keep it going.

This is one of the major funk songs of the era and one that actually borrows a lot from rock music rather than feeding from the disco well. I might prefer the shorter version, but this pretty good.

Das Model – Kraftwerk

Six months ago I was listening to The Man-Machine as I had a big coding breakthrough at work and was celebrating that in tandem with my being able to stay in the job that I love. Listening to this song now, in the context of other songs at the time, ‘Das Model’ is such an anomaly and an incredible triumph.

So much of what I listen to now only exists because of bands like Kraftwerk giving birth to electronic music like this. As a kid I knew this and didn’t think much of this song, but now I absolutely love it.

Shot by Both Sides – Magazine

Somehow I managed to recognise a Buzzcocks riff in this song (which makes sense as Magazine was founded by a member of that band) which makes three so far in this batch, so I guess my ears have been properly screwed on today.

This is another example of, although the first in this batch, of post-punk. It’s also a song by someone who left a punk band because he wanted to make prog rock. So I guess this is where prog rock and post-punk meet? Maybe something like that. Still though, we are early days for post-punk and this is one of those songs that I can see influencing those yet to come.

Public Image – Public Image Ltd

I can hear The Cure in this. There is something in this song that immediately made me thing of Robert Smith, which I guess is the specific line of post-punk that ‘Public Image’ helped to progress.

It’s difficult to listen to this song and look at the album cover without thinking of an older Jon Lydon making stupid adverts for butter and being a dick on I’m A Celebrity…. If anything, hearing him do this rather then The Sex Pistols is actually helping me to understand why he is such an interesting figure in this area of music. I have to listen to Public Image’s second album for the album list, and this is making that look like an attractive one to listen to soon.

Alternative Ulster – Stiff Little Fingers

So many punk (or punk-leaning) acts that I have listened to for this list were rebelling against something for the sake of it. Then you come across a track like ‘Alternative Ulster’ where there’s actually some substance to the subject matter – specifically here the ‘Troubles’ period of Northern Irish history. There’s a rallying cry here against an actual oppressive an unfair system for a specific period in history, which makes ‘Alternative Ulster’ a proper musical time capsule.

(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais – The Clash 

The year after this, The Clash would go on to release London Calling – one of most acclaimed albums of all time. Before this, they released another self-named hugely acclaimed album. Both were punk or post-punk – so this song with some punk vocals infused with reggae is a bit out of left-field, and I kinda wish it had stayed there. I know that this is a very popular track, but it didn’t work for me.

Progress: 492/1021

1001 Songs – 1978: Part One

Non-Alignment Pact – Pere Ubu

We start this series of songs with another in a long run of different shades of post-punk. This time, we’re getting in some more industrial sounds and interesting whistling choices in order to make something more experimental, like it’s the art rock version of punk. I’m assuming art punk exists, right?

In any event, the use of synthesizers and a less angry (whilst distinctly punky) sound makes this a interesting way to start the bunch. It’s the ushering in of new wave music, whose big name is in two songs time, and it’s going to be interesting to see where these threads of influence lead.

Blue Valentines – Tom Waits

Well, this is a far cry from swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs. You still have the rough and untamed voice. There’s no strange noises or comically gruff use of his vocals, instead this is a remarkably earnest blues song and that’s knocked me a bit for six.

His voice is perfect for this kind of blues as he can sound like that half-drunk guy at the bar whose voice breaks the moment his emotions get hold of him. I need to listen more of this era of Tom Waits.

Heart of Glass – Blondie

Ah man, I love this song. Parallel Lines is in the running to be my favourite album from the 1970s and this is such a highlight. It’s just such a strange departure to have this disco-influenced new wave on a song that is far more focused on being cool and within the vision of being a new wave pioneer.

However, facts are facts – ‘Heart of Glass’ is a brilliant song that, despite some die-hard Blondie fans of the time’s accusations of them selling out for commercial gain, endures to this day. It’s one of those songs I’ve been playing since I got a Greatest Hits album back in 2001 that made me a Blondie fan… which makes it hard to think of this within a historical context.

All I know is that this is a disco-infused masterpiece and is one of a few songs that I’ll be coming across for this list.

Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) – Buzzcocks

Much like most of Blondie’s 1978 output, ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’ is a exceptional piece of power pop and pop punk. It almost feels like a punk band doing a cover of a fragment of Beatles song, because it doesn’t exactly fall into the punk category and it’s too strong for pop.

This is the kind of music I can really get on board with and it really flies in the face in the face of what you would consider a proper punk subject. There’s no anger, just a sense of incredibly urgency that just doesn’t want to get out of your head.

Le Freak – Chic

Time for some pure disco. Growing up, the only time that I would ever hear disco music would be in commercials or if I was in someone else’s car and it came on the radio. ‘Le Freak’ came up pretty often, so I’ve probably heard the chorus done to death.

Little did I know, however, that I would be hearing that chorus again and again and again. I know that songs like this needed to be played in the club and allow time for dance breaks, but come on if you’re going to be playing it in your home or on the radio it needs more variation. I do appreciate that this song started life with ‘Fuck Off’ in the lyrics rather than ‘Freak Out’. That’s cool.

Milk and Alcohol – Dr. Feelgood

Well, the album cover for this song is pretty damned scary. The song is not. At the core is the very basic kind of rock and roll structure that I would have heard back in the 1950s, but with more of a proto-punk feel. Wikipedia calls this pub rock, which I guess makes sense as it feels pre-punk and it is a song that was apparently influenced by a night of drinking Kahlua.

It’s a bit of a throwback, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it doesn’t add much to the table compared to other songs in this section of the list.

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

This is the only Queen song that I have some positive associations with, so it’s nice to see it here as being one of their entries on the 1001 list. We sang it at school as part of a singing competition between houses. We didn’t win, but that doesn’t make it any the less fun to sing and to come up with dance moves to… kinda wish they hadn’t made us freestyle through the guitar solo.

It’s yet another example of how wide the berth is in the world of power pop and, with punk’s instantaneous collapse, this was one of the big genres that was born to fill the void. I still have a complex relationship with this band, but there’s no denying how much fun this song is.

Teenage Kicks – The Undertones

You can’t have good power pop without there also being some good pop punk, and that’s exactly what ‘Teenage Kicks’ is. I probably heard the Nouvelle Vague bossa nova version of this song before hearing the original many years later, which is undoubtedly the better version.

With such a pop punk/punk pop start to 1978 I can only wonder how the rest of the songs are going to shake out, but for now I got to say that I am enjoying this year.

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester

This might be the first time that I’ve ended a batch of songs on something that is this gay, but it’s also a whole lot of fun. There is so much joyful energy in Sylvester’s impossible falsetto vocals that helps you to forget that you are pretty much hearing the same 4-5 lyrics over and over again.

Then there is the production that takes more than a note from Georgio Morodor’s work on the disco pinnacle of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’. We’re starting to see disco morph into what would later become dance music and, once pop starts to grab a hold on songs like this, then it’s going to be time to welcome synthpop and the New Romantics. The 1980s cannot come soon enough.

Progress: 483/1021

1001 Songs – 1977: Part Three

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees

This is it, the last batch of songs from 1977 and we’re beginning with one of the biggest songs from one of the biggest cinema soundtracks ever. A song that has been used to teach CPR techniques thanks to it’s BPM and how ingrained in the pop culture it is.

In many ways, it’s a very deceptive song as nearly everything about it is meant to make you smile, want to dance and generally have a good time. However, within those falsetto voices are lyrics about surviving on the streets of New York City. It makes it a perfect match for the film Saturday Night Fever because that deals with a similar subject of duality.

I know that, from their previous song on the list, that disco was not what the Bee Gees set out to do – but they do it so well.

Wonderous Stories – Yes

This feels about as close as you can get to something resembling pop whilst remaining a prog rock out. It’s a ballad about a lovely day in Montreux, Switzerland and it’s just a very beautiful track. Also, for a prog rock song, it’s actually very simple. Sure there’s a lot going on with the electric sounds and the two types of guitar, but everything flows well together.

Apparently the band don’t like this song as it is too accessible. Makes sense, as I quite liked it.

Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac

Classic! Rumours is one of the best albums ever produced and it’s hard to deny that this is a major highlight. The fact that Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life album gets two songs on this list and Rumours gets one is a choice. Would have been great to have had ‘The Chain’ on here for being a very different kind of song – but this list has bigger issues than that.

On an album of break-up songs, ‘Go Your Own Way’ is the song that works the best as that feeling of ‘just get out of my life’. Buckingham’s raw vocals and the fact that so much needed to be over-dubbed as they just weren’t recording together. It’s such a great song of catharsis and I’m going to listen to it again before moving on.

“Heroes” – David Bowie

Another iconic song here. Of course, me being me, I know this most from being in Moulin Rouge‘s ‘Elephant Love Medley’ as the section just before the big climax. It’s one of those songs that I know from so many different places like ‘Regular Show’, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and a huge number of adverts that I am not sure how many times I’ve actually heard the whole song.

I love the story behind the recording of this album where they rigged three microphones at increasingly further distances away and, as the song progressed, the switched on microphone would move further from Bowie – which explains the increased intensity as the song goes on. It’s not my favourite Bowie, but definitely one I can admire.

Exodus – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Right, so this is the title song from the final Bob Marley album on my albums list. I know, from podcasts that I listen to, that so many musical artists that I love really have been inspired by his music. I just. I just can’t.

The first minute or two of the song was good, I can appreciate a good protest song or a song about politics – but there’s no moving from the first two minutes. It just felt cut and pasted enough times to fill eight minutes. At least with ‘I Feel Love’ there was variation to keep it going. I guess I should just rip off the plaster and cover this album…

River Song – Dennis Wilson

Why has the life of Dennis Wilson not been made into a miniseries. A man who was part of one of the biggest acts of the 1960s, was involved with Charles Manson, had troubles with drugs and then a tragic death at a young age.

What ‘River Song’ shows is that, whilst Brian Wilson was incredibly important to the Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson had some great talent too. This is a beautiful song about someone seeking a simpler life. Knowing about some of his history, it’s sad he never found it.

Whole Lotta Rosie – AC/DC

Firstly, it’s glad to see that we are about to reach a far harder section of the list as a lot of these songs in today’s post have been on the quieter side. Also, how great is it to have a hard rock song that celebrates a plus-sized woman for being an excellent lover. It’s a song that is weirdly body positive… which isn’t something I was expecting when I saw the title.

Black Generation – Richard Hell & The Voidoids

Punk isn’t dead yet (then again, why would it be, this list isn’t in completely alphabetical order) so it’s nice to have it as the genre for one of the year’s final songs. In the end, like it or loathe it, the journey to punk has been a large part of the last 10-12 posts in the songs list. Now it’s time to see where that journey is heading now.

For a punk song it’s melodic (think more Clash or Ramones) and was a song that helped influence ‘Pretty Vacant’ by the Sex Pistols. It’s just one of those weird quirks of release schedules that ‘Blank Generation’ and it’s album were released after the Sex Pistols exploded.

Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf

Man this song is so over the top, but that really is the charm of it. It reminds me of an overblown version of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’, but with more drama and less heart. Then there are elements that feel drawn from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

I have a feeling that this song is on the list because it’s the title track of the classic slow burn album that has become iconic. They really should have put on ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ as that does everything ‘Bat Out of Hell’ does and a whole lot better.

Lust for Life – Iggy Pop

Okay, fine, I get how the Lust for Life album can end up with two tracks on the list. That drumbeat is just so iconic. It’s weird when you’ve heard an element of a song in so many places and then, for the first time, actually hear it in context.

I’m really not sure how this can fit on the same album as ‘The Passenger’, but one day I’m sure I’ll find out. In the end though, I’m not so keen on the rest of the song outside of the drumbeat – but it does makes for a cool way to end the year.

Progress: 474/1021

1001 Songs – 1977: Part Two

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Black Betty – Ram Jam

Okay, I started listening to a later remix of this before the beat was a bit too modern and dancey for a blues rock song from 1977. Then when I found the correct version… it still felt incredibly modern and one of those songs that really was crying out for a dance remix.

‘Black Betty’ is this brilliant mixture of boogie-woogie and hard rock that is a cover of an old African-American work song. Needless to say, that due to the origins and content of the song (and that this band were white) this song managed to conjure up a bit of controversy at the time. It’s still a great execution, even if the content is a bit wanting.

Born for a Purpose – Dr. Alimantado & The Rebels

The further we get into reggae’s evolution, the more it is progressing into something that I am no longer dreading. The production is cleaner, which means that the lyrics are taking centre stage. There is also a whole lot more variation in the song, which is really necessary when you are making something nearly 6 minutes long.

It’s just a pity that these developments never became universal within reggae, but horses for courses I suppose.

Zombie – Fela Kuti & Africa 70

Time for the list to make a rare veering off of Western music and highlight a genre that I have yet to hear before: Afrobeat.

This is a word I’ve heard a number of times to generically refer to music from Africa, but I’m not surprised that such a cool name has also been applied to a genre; in this instance a genre fusing West African musical styles with jazz and funk from America.

At twelve and a half minutes long, and lyrics only starting just before the halfway mark, it’s definitely hard to ignore the jazz influence. Like Fela Kuti himself, ‘Zombie’ is a very political song aimed at the military in his native Nigeria for following orders without thoughts.

Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush

Time for debut song of one of my favourite artists of all time. The first time where a woman got to number one in the UK charts with a song she wrote herself. And she was 18. And she was raised in a neighbouring major town.

I’m biased because I love Kate Bush, but ‘Wuthering Heights’ is one of those watershed moments in music. This song is 458th in this list and there hasn’t been much like this before.

It’s the birth of art pop and a host of other genres It’s the song that influenced a huge section of female singers afterwards. And she was 18 with massive acclaim still to come in her life.

Not bad for a song written from the perspective of a ghost in Emily Brontë’s classic gothic novel (specifically from the BBC adaptation… not the book) because Kate Bush just happened to like the idea.

Uptown Top Ranking – Althea & Donna

I believe that this is the first reggae song I have heard on this list with female vocals. That alone makes this a really interesting entry. Then you figure in that it was the first song by a female duo to top the UK starts and it was all down to radio DJ John Peel playing it by accident… welll it just makes for a really interesting story.

The song itself is more of a step back to earlier reggae, especially when compared to ‘Born For A Purpose’ in terms of the repetition and the overall style. However it still has the progression because of the cleaner production. Not entirely sure how this became a hit, but it’s great to finally hear some female reggae artists.

I Feel Love – Donna Summer 

Third female vocalist in a row, that must be some sort of record for this list so far. Like ‘Wuthering Heights’ earlier, ‘I Feel Love’ is another of those landmark records. Not only is this the moment where disco went electronic and started to bleed into other neighbouring genres and inspire new ones, this was the moment that electronic music gained sung lyrics and a kick drum.

Giorgio Morordor’s production is sublime as he takes you on this hypnotic journey. Together with Donna Summer’s breathy and other-worldly vocals, ‘I Feel Love’ is one of those songs that can still make you take time and zone out completely. It was an instant classic in a year of genre-defining moments that still has plenty of songs to go.

Peg – Steely Dan

Time for something a bit more conventional as we get to ‘Peg’ by Steely Dan (a song I first heard as a cover by Nerina Pallot). After some pretty major songs, it’s actually quite nice to have this as a mental break after so many heavy hitters.

This isn’t a revolutionary song, but it’s a nice song that helps exemplify the jazz-infused soft rock genre. It’s a nice signpost of the other types of rock that were out there at the time. Nice to hear the softer side sometimes.

Marquee Moon – Television

Well, I did say at the beginning of the month that I would be hearing ‘Marquee Moon’ again. Thanks to my initial listen to the album, I now associate this album (and song) with the ill-informed act of putting up a flatpack bookshelf in 33 degree heat.

Listening to this in a historical context as a song, rather than in the running order of the album, really does change how I perceive this song. In the album, ‘Marquee Moon’ is this epic moment, but on it’s own it overstays its welcome as a nearly 11-minute song.

It is worth repeating though that ‘Marquee Moon’ and its album really were what punk had to morph into after the initial explosion went alight like touch-paper. This post-punk genre persisted much longer than punk every could have, and I am thankful for that.

Like a Hurricane – Neil Young

It’s probably because it’s been a long time since I last did a Neil Young album for the blog (which it definitely is and I still have his 1975 album Tonight’s The Night to listen to), but I have never heard him embracing his electric side.

I know that this is one of Neil Young’s big songs and that it is a classic within the genre, but surrounded by the other songs of the year I just don’t see it doing anything particularly big or new. It’s a song that overstays it’s welcome, unlike the longer ‘Zombie’, and… yea it just left me really cold.

The Passenger – Iggy Pop

What a great song to finsh the post on. Such a change from his earlier 1977 song ‘Dum Dum Boys‘ where he was casting off the identity of the past as part of his solo debut album.

‘The Passenger’ comes from Iggy Pop’s second album of 1977 (because why not release your first two solo albums in the same year) and is far less experimental and more focused on bringing an older rock and roll style and applying some more punk musical elements to it.

Like most people my age, I know ‘The Passenger’ from a car commercial and it’s one of those songs that has managed to make me smile whenever I hear it being played. After his previous song from 1977 it’s great to hear Iggy Pop back in his element and with a lot more confidence.

Progress: 464/1021

1001 Songs – 1977: Part One

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.

Progress: 454/1021