Tag Archives: The Police

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 – 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