Christmas Day – and still the staff of Musicemissions are hard at work, slaving over a hot computer keyboard. For those who might have expected a plethora of Christmas songs around today’s blog, sadly you are going to be disappointed. As we hurtle onwards heading for number 800 I suspect that, slowly, some more familiar names will begin to creep into the list. This should not be entirely unexpected. After all, the most well-known bands are well-known for a reason. While I have always loved hunting out that long lost gem – the sole output by some obscure outfit who disappeared from the face of the Earth shortly after their one release, as we move further up the list you will begin to see more familiar names, even if the actual tracks may not be quite what you expected.
And so, we count down the last batch towards 800.
Charles Martel’s 820-801
820. The Sex Pistols – “EMI” (Never Mind the Bollocks)
The Sex Pistols’ savage indictment of the greed and stupidity of major label record companies. Johnny Rotten’s snarling vocal never contained as much vitriolic hatred as is evidenced by his performance on this track.
819. Petty, Tom – “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (Southern Accents)
I have always blown hot and cold over Tom Petty’s work. On occasions, such as this, he can come up with a memorable song. But too much of his music really drags on me and I have very little of his other stuff.
818. Semisonic – “Singing in My Sleep” (Feeling Strangely Fine)
The album is oddly inconsistent considering the effort which went into its production, but this track off it is a mixture of uplifting and depressing and is easily the best one on it.
817. Conspiracy of Silence – “Innocense” (7” Single)
Dutch band who put out just one single, of which this mis-spelt (deliberate or not I cannot tell) track was the best. Don’t confuse this lot with an American metal band who released a couple of EP’s in the mid-nineties.
816. Blondie – “Hanging on the Telephone” (Parallel Lines)
Blondie might have been moving towards a more disco sound at this point, but this was a fine pop song in the vein of their earlier great singles.
815. Jilted John – “Jilted John” (True Love Stories)
The whiny, pathetic vocal and the repetitive riff dominate. But this song is probably the closest to the truth that any song about the banal reality of being dumped has ever come. And anybody who is called Gordon has hated this song ever since.
814. The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” (El Camino)
Great retro-Garage number with a more commercial flavour than many, this knocks spots off anything the White Stripes have ever done. Heavily distorted guitars, a great riff and a singalong chorus make this as good as it is.
813. Sigur Ros – “Hoppipolla” (Takk)
A lot of the time, Sigur Ros drone on and on like a bunch of seventies prog rockers on sedatives. But just occasionally, they can really present something out of the ordinary, as this uplifting track demonstrates. This was used as the theme music for one of Sir David Attenborough’s many natural history series.
812. Holly, Buddy – “That’ll Be the Day” (The Chirping Crickets)
Too many of the early rock and rollers died in plane crashes. Buddy Holly was one of the gravest such losses for music (and the true identity of “The Music” in Don McLean’s “American Pie”). As he demonstrates here, the use of the guitar was innovative for its time taking it away from being a strictly rhythm instrument.
811. The Psychedelic Furs – “Run and Run” (Forever Now)
Included because it contains what I always thought was one of the most perfectly delivered devastating couple of lines in any lyric –
“I’ve been waiting all night for someone like you, but
You’ll have to do.”
810. The Reivers – “I Knew” (Translate Slowly)
This album was released twice as the band had to change its name as their original name, Zeitgeist, was taken. This is the best track off the album, one of those songs which holds you in its tension of the quiet parts, before bursting out in the loud passages.
809. The Modern Lovers – “Road Runner” (The Modern Lovers)
The riff is based on the Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray” but is even more basic as it only uses two chords, D and A, apart from two very brief snippets of E. It took four years before the song became recognised as a seminal work which inspired many other bands.
808. The Cure – “All I Want” (Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me)
The album is rather poor and definitely too long, but this track is one of the two stand-out moments on it. A grinding, dirty piece of rock.
807. Edmunds, Dave – “Girls Talk” (Repeat when Necessary)
Pub rock was a phenomenon to which punk owed a huge debt, even though the latter swept it away. Dave Edmunds had done the clubs for years before he finally got recognition with this number which draws its inspiration from the heyday of fifties rock and roll.
806. Morissette, Alanis – “Ironic” (Jagged Little Pill)
Despite releasing some truly terrible stuff as a teen popstar, Morissette won a grammy for this song which, had the stupid, smug bastards who run the music business known what it was about, would probably have had apoplexy. It is in fact one of the earliest songs to voice support for marriage equality.
805. The Hold Steady – “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” (Separation Sunday)
The Hold Steady have this glorious ability to punch holes right through the hypocrisy of religiosity and the devastating effect it can have on young people. The Hoodrat in question is a supposedly devout girl saving herself but who self-harms and is plagued by dreams of St Teresa of Avila. If you have seen Bernini’s sculpture of the Ecstasy of St Teresa in Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome you will know what I mean. Makes me, sad, angry and disgusted all at the same time.
804. Siekiera – “Ludzie Wschodu” (Nowa Aleksandria)
Polish post-punk from the days when Solidarity had been crushed and a communist military coup had taken control of the country. The title is “People of the East” and despite what I am assured are largely meaningless lyrics, there is no doubt who this is aimed at as the musical motif is almost stereotypical. These guys were either extremely courageous or naively stupid, yet they survived.
803. The Buzzcocks – “Orgasm Addict” (7” Single)
Never say that the Buzzcocks only released singles which would receive airplay. This snappy song about masturbation was guaranteed to get absolutely nowhere near a radio station playlist let alone Top of the Pops.
802. The Thompson Twins – “Make Believe” (A Product of….(Participation))
African influenced rhythms power this impressive song by this New Romantic outfit. The B-Side featured a remix of the song with an Aramaic title which means “why have you forsaken me?” Anyone recognise that?
801. The Springfields – “Sunflower” (7” Single)
Paul Chastain and Rick Menck formed a number of jangle pop bands in the States and none of them had any commercial success. This song is one of the better ones in their repertoire.