Who are these greatest enemies of modern music I spoke of last week? Answer – the major label record companies. Let’s get one thing straight – these organisations are out to make money. When they find something that makes them money they will keep repeating it until it wears out. If you have ever wondered why we are subjected to a near endless supply of manufactured boy bands and girl bands whose principal attribute seems to be to excite the nascent sexual interest of the opposite sex, then that is why. It sells. Whether it is any good or not is not the point. Record companies make money out of it and they will keep churning it out as long as it does. Same goes for the endless succession of wailing RnB divas. Now, each to his own. As long as I do not have to listen to it or have it foisted upon me at every turn, why should I care. The problem is, that unless I want to listen to it, it is getting increasingly hard to seek out alternatives.
Here are twenty alternatives
Charles Martel’s 580-561
580. Hefner – “The Day that Thatcher Dies” (We Love the City)
I know it’s naughty, but the day that Margaret Thatcher died I must have played this 20 or 30 times. I have no idea what people must have thought as I walked down Victoria Street in central London singing this song (tunelessly as always) listening on my iPod.
579. Howlin’ Wolf – “Back Door Man” (7” Single)
A Willie Dixon song which Howlin’ Wolf made his own. The backdoor man – the guy who slips out the backdoor while the husband comes in through the front door – is a feature of many blues songs.
578. Duke Special – “Wake up Scarlett” (Songs from the Deep Forest)
Ulsterman Peter Wilson goes by the name of Duke Special and this track, from his debut album, is a macabre love song to a lover who will not wake up because she was murdered during the night. A new and refreshing take on British folk music.
577. One – “Son of the Sun” (7” Single)
Trying to find any information about this band on the internet is all but impossible. The sound is British and the style is post punk, but beyond that it is hard to tell. Nevertheless, it has a melody and a refrain which will lodge itself in your mind and stick there.
576. Wiley, Geeshie – “Last Kind Words” (10” Single)
Almost nothing is known about Geeshie Wiley – even her name is a racial slur for slaves from the Savannah coast. She only recorded three songs and no photographs of her are known. But this lament to a family member about to depart for the war is a hugely compelling and emotional piece.
575. The Yardbirds – “White Summer” (Live Yardbirds)
“White Summer” is a Jimmy Page instrumental composition which has been around a long time and has taken on many guises. Watching Page play this on DVD, even Mrs Martel, who is one of those strange creatures who detests Led Zeppelin, was driven to note that he really knew how to play the guitar. How right she was.
574. Cochran, Eddie – “C’Mon Everybody” (The Eddie Cochran Memorial Album)
The premature loss of Eddie Cochran was, in my view, the greatest blow in the early history of rock and roll. This Cochran classic was released after his death.
573. Oasis – “Wonderwall” ((What’s the Story) Morning Glory)
Many people regard this as Oasis’ best track. Noel Gallagher was clearly trying to write an anthem. It is a good track for sure, but as this list will suggest, not Oasis’ best in my view.
572. Led Zeppelin – “Celebration Day” (Led Zeppelin III)
This song is often overlooked when people mention great Led Zeppelin tracks, but it has such a wonderful, happy feel to it that it really makes you want to get up and dance – as much as you can dance to any Led Zeppelin song.
571. The Weakerthans – “Aside” (Reconstruction Site)
Canadian rockers come up with a hard driving gem from this album which deals with love, loss, redemption and hope, embodied in the emotions of a man dying from a terminal illness.
570. Burnette, Johnny – “The Train Kept a-Rollin’” (7” Single)
Seminal rock and roll number from one of the near-forgotten greats of the fifties. The song has been covered by dozens of artists and that riff has formed the basis of songs about trains ever since.
569. Bragg, Billy – It Says Here” (Brewing up with Billy Bragg)
Billy Bragg’s criticism of the lies sold to us all by the right-wing press in this country. Thirty years on, and people still believe the lies and distortions fed them by trash rags like the Daily Mail. A must for anyone who thinks things have improved in our lives.
568. Close Lobsters – “Lovely Little Swan” (Headache Rhetoric)
Chanted vocals combine with jangly guitars and a heavy rhythmic beat to create this excellent song from the second album of these Scottish jangle poppers, one of the originals of the C86 tape.
567. Watts, John – “What a Time to Live” (It Has to Be)
John Watts’ decrying the state of things in general. It was included as a late addition to the album after the bombing of the Chamartin rail station in Madrid –
“Spanish stations still lament
What waging war on terror meant,
Oh waste of women, waste of men.
What a time to live!”
566. Shaman – “Idja” (Idja)
Joik is a form of song used by the Sami in northern Europe which carries clearly across the snowy wastes. Shaman are a Finnish band who sang in Sami. If you have never even had the remotest conception of what joik metal might sound like, you gotta hear this. I mean you have to!
565. The Serenes – Trip down Memory Street” (Barefoot and Pregnant)
The Serenes were probably the best English-language band to come out of the Netherlands and their debut album, “Barefoot and Pregnant” remains a classic. This song, with its extended guitar solo, is the best track on the album except for a completely sublime piece which will appear later in this list.
564. The Go-Go’s – “How Much More” (Beauty and the Beat)
The Go-Go’s short-lived career provided this classic album. Full of great powerpop numbers, this one is dominated by some powerful drumming which really drives the track forwards.
563. The Animals – “The House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals)
A traditional blues number of unknown provenance, it is a morality tale of a life gone wrong and set in New Orleans in the heyday of the Mississippi paddle-wheel steamers. The Animals’ version is undoubtedly the most widely known.
562. Generation X – “Dancing with Myself” (Kiss Me Deadly)
Generation X’s wanking song, this is definitely one of the band’s better emissions (sorry), erected (sorry) on strong foundations with spurts (sorry) of energy.
561. The Dandy Warhols – “Good Morning” (The Dandy Warhols Come Down)
A song which growls along and slowly comes together before the vocal comes in wishing you good morning in a style which suggests it is anything but. It all goes to show that when the Dandy Warhols really decided to put it together they could do it.