One thing about this list is that it is continuously evolving. It is bound to. As 2014 dawns I begin to wonder how many tracks released in this year will find their way onto the list. Usually it takes some time for something to be elevated, which is why this list contains very few tracks from 2013. Just as it takes time for a classic to become a classic, it takes time for individual tracks to rise up the list. Also, we should not forget, there are still albums I have not yet heard from way back – to the sixties or seventies (Judee Sill, the Action, May Blitz). Who knows what may be lurking on those which will bang on the door and demand entry to the list when I finally get round to checking them, assuming that is that I am able to do so.
For New Year’s Day, a new milestone as we pass into the 700’s.
Charles Martel’s 800-781
800. The Rolling Stones – “Street Fighting Man” (Beggar’s Banquet)
The Rolling Stones’ tribute to the Paris revolutionaries of 1968 and their counterparts in Prague. Oh how close they came to overthrowing the establishment in both countries!
799. The Feelies – “What Goes On” (Only Life)
The Feelies owed a huge debt to the Velvet Underground and this excellent cover is perhaps one way they repaid it.
798. Hildegard von Bingen – “O Splendissima Gemma” (Ordo Virtutum)
From a musical suite which may have been the precursor of the opera, this is wonderfully soothing music from this twelfth century German polymath.
797. Soda Stereo – “La Luna Roja” (Dynamo)
Argentinian shoegaze – I kid you not. This great track is off the long-lived band’s final album before they split up.
796. Buffalo Springfield – “For What It’s Worth” (Again)
Written about a series of demonstrations against perceived interference in concerts in Los Angeles, this was Buffalo Springfield’s finest moment.
795. Grieg, Edvard – “Piano Concerto in A Minor, 1st Movement” (Piano Concerto in A Minor)
Grieg only wrote one piano concerto, and it was a great one. The opening bars of this first movement are especially recognisable.
794. Radiohead – “Creep” (Pablo Honey)
I really don’t like Radiohead. Having said that, this is a good song, though you could hold a gun to my head and I still would not buy another Radiohead album. The undoubted highlight is Thom Yorke whining “I’m a creep” without the slightest hint of irony .
793. Hawkwind – “Master of the Universe” (In Search of Space)
Spacey Hawkwind track which sounds like a spacecraft taking off, right from the throbbing bass heavy intro through the swirling theramin. Unlike genuine astronauts though, Hawkwind’s space was created inside their skulls by LSD.
792. Fine Young Cannibals – “Good Thing” (The Raw and the Cooked)
Retro-soul number which first appeared in the 1987 film Tin Men. It is a fine dancey number which was a hit across the world for the band.
791. Broken Social Scene – “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl” (You Forgot It in People)
A song about growing up and lamenting the passage of time and with it the freedom and wildness of youth. Quite mournful in its way, this innovative track has become a firm favourite among fans of this musical collective.
790. Fischer-Z – “Destination Paradise” (Destination Paradise)
Strong number from the second incarnation of Fischer-Z, this track brought many new fans to the band with its emphasis on socio-politcal themes at a time when the Tories had been in power for far, far too long in this country.
789. Lewie, Jona – “Kitchen at Parties” (7” Single)
Jona Lewie’s quirky look at real life was so relevant to my university days when this came out. Finding a bunch of guys getting drunk in the kitchen was as equally an obligatory feature of a party as a girl crying in the toilet.
788. The Jam – “The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow)” (7” Single)
Paul Weller’s great song to a guy who feels cheated as the love of his life walks down the aisle with somebody else. Probably the most poignant Weller ever got with the Jam. Who said the new wave didn’t know how to cry?
787. Bathory – “Shores In Flames” (Hammerheart)
A gentle start, with waves lapping against the shoreline and then, wham! A throbbing, bass-heavy riff knocks you backwards out of your seat. The late Quorthon (he behind Bathory) almost singlehandedly invented Viking Metal, and this is probably the finest example of it.
786. James, Skip – “I’m So Glad” (10” Single)
Master of the three-finger picking technique he developed, James was virtually unknown until John Fahey found him in a hospital in 1964. The only money he ever made from music was in royalties when Cream covered this song.
785. King, Carole – “It’s Too Late” (Tapestry)
Finest number from a seminal album, Carole King brought the idea of a strong, independent yet feminine woman to the musical world with the album “Tapestry”.
784. The Bishops – “Lies and Indictments/Sun Going Down” (The Bishops)
Double song which will stick with you for a long time, the Bishops were so enamoured of the sixties sound they sought to recreate that the album was recorded in analogue on a tape recorder using amps which dated from the sixties. Unfortunately, videos only show one of the songs.
783. Wagner, Richard – “Ride of the Valkyries” (Die Walkure)
“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” This well-known piece owes a lot of its modern familiarity to the film in which that line was delivered by one of the characters.
782. Boris – “Part 2” (Feedbacker)
“Feedbacker” is an album of what are untitled largely instrumental drone tracks. The second track, called here “Part 2” of the sake of convenience, is actually a well-constructed piece which showcases the guitar-playing talent of Wata, she who has her head smashed in and lies bleeding on the album’s cover.
781. The Charlottes – “Liar” (Things Come Apart)
Short-lived shoegaze band in the vein of Lush, this was the undoubted stand-out track from this now very rare album.