Last time I looked at context, time and place, as among the defining factors for inclusion of a track. Another factor, which may seem overriding at first, turns out not to be so, namely reflective of my views. To be sure, songs which may be said to be politically or socially “left” will resonate with me more. Yet, while I would never include songs of the extreme right – Prussian Blue for the USA or Skrewdriver for the UK – I can include a track from Rush’s “2112” which was inspired by libertarian right author Ayn Rand. Similarly, though I am an atheist, I have a special fondness for the grace and calm of the works of twelfth century abbess Hildegard von Bingen. So, music according with my views is not always as important as may at first be apparent.
Anyway, here is the next twenty.
Charles Martel’s 940-921
940. The Bardots – “Cruelty Blonde” (Sad Anne)
On the face of it a soothing song, but underneath there is a darker side. This sort of juxtaposition often makes for good songs when it is done well.
939. The Divinyls – “I Touch Myself” (Divinyls)
Australian pop-rockers the Divinyls were no stranger to controversy. This catchy song is one of the few pop songs on the theme of female masturbation.
938. The Bats – “North by North” (Daddy’s Highway)
New Zealand jangle poppers the Bats had a strange, lo-fi sound which can best be described as home-made. This rolling, cascading song is one of those which will hang around you long after you have ceased listening to it.
937. The Wedding Present – “No” (Bizarro)
The Wedding Present took vignettes of real life and turned them into great songs. This one is all about demolishing a lover’s excuses for infidelity with the rhetorical question, “then why didn’t you just say no”.
936. Reeves, Martha & the Vandellas – “Jimmy Mack” (Watchout)
Another great Motown hit single from the mid-sixties, this one deals with a lover’s call for her love to return to her before another suitor wins her heart.
935. Nena – “99 Luftballons” (99 Luftballons)
For one brief moment in the mid eighties pop went political. This song about fighter jets scrambling to intercept 99 balloons was a testament to how deep European opposition to Reagan’s warmongering had gone. This song was a Europe-wide hit
934. The Grand Archives – “Sleepdriving” (The Grand Archives)
Sleepwalking in cars. Mat Brooke’s latest project is literally a slow motion description of a car crash used as a metaphor for other events.
933. Ocean Blue – “Planetarium Scene” (The Cerulean)
A cover of a Zombies’ song, Ocean Blue give this song a new breath of life. A strangely British sound from an American band.
932. The Cure – “One Hundred Years” (Pornography)
The album from which this is drawn is one of the hardest listens in post-punk/Goth. This song, one of the album’s best, is a doomy, gloomy and powerful dirge dominating by deep plunging guitar sounds on heavy reverb.
931. Them – “Gloria” (Here Comes the Night)
“Gloria” is one of the most covered songs of its era. This, the original, sees Van Morrison in his Mick Jagger impersonation phase.
930. The Nex’d – “Surreal” (7″ Single)
The Nex’d were a post-punk band from Calgary who released this one single and then disappeared. A shame because it is actually quite good.
929. Dvorak, Antonin – “Symphony No. 9, Largo” (New World Symphony)
Dvorak claimed that this movement, the most famous from his most well-known symphony, was inspired by the dance scene in Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha”.
928. Costello, Elvis & the Attractions – Oliver’s Army” (Armed Forces)
Elvis Costello’s anti-occupation song inspired by scenes he witnessed in Belfast and the fact that the rich and powerful start conflicts and the poor and oppressed get killed in them. Has the distinction of being MTV’s first ever daytime video.
927. Blow Up – “Good for Me” (Good for Me EP)
A sharp and snappy jangle pop single from another band who never went anywhere. The fact that Alan McGhee of Creation records described them as the greatest new band in the country was, however, seriously overblown.
926. Simple Minds – “Don’t You Forget about Me” (New Gold Dream)
John Hughes was credited by American friends of mine with validating their musical taste. This great song was the theme to Hughes’ film “The Breakfast Club”.
925. The Manic Street Preachers – “A Design for Life” (Everything Must Go)
Unusual, like much of the Manics’ material, in that it was a commercial success despite a strong political message. However, like almost all the Manics’ songs, it is marked out by a strong guitar hook.
924. Midnight Oil – “Beds Are Burning” (10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1)
Midnight Oil were famous for their commitment to conservation and the environment and their lead singer actually became an Australian cabinet minister for the environment for a while. This song, with its invitation-to-chant refrain, is their best output.
923. The Shadows – “Apache” (7″ Single)
This is the original version of an instrumental Americans often associate with some Scandinavian guitarist (for some obscure reason). Another version has featured on many a hip-hop sampler for the last 30 years.
922. Brown, James – “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” (It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World)
Long-standing favourite of James Brown’s live repertoire, you have to overlook the almost ridiculously chauvinistic aspect of what is, after all, a great song.
921. Prefab Sprout – “Goodbye Lucille #1” (Steve McQueen)
Best song from an album which went by a different name in the States (Two Wheels Good). Prefab Sprout are significant to me as marking the beginning of my long musical hiatus.