So, should you download music without paying for it? Yes. Why? Three reasons. First, if you already own it on vinyl it comes under fair use. If it did not, then every time you rip a CD to your iPhone you would be breaking the law and I cannot see the courts enforcing that. Second, if you cannot buy it in hard copy or through any other source. If I could, I would prefer the hard copy. And if the record companies don’t want the money they would receive from re-releasing it, how can they begrudge me if I get it any way I can? I would rather have the hard copy anyway, but because they insist on trying to control what I listen to they restrict the choice available to me. Third, I often download tracks from an album to check out whether or not I like it. If I do, I buy the CD. If I don’t, I do not buy it. Either way I delete the downloaded version. All the Performing Rights Association and its overseas counterparts are achieving is to reduce consumer choice and trying to eliminate the exercise of choice through product testing. And they think that will boost the declining revenues of the major labels? These people are seriously misguided.
And now we will reach half way.
Charles Martel’s 520-501
520. Alcest – “Ciel Errant” (Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde)
Alcest invented blackgaze with this album, and “Ciel Errant” is one of the finest tracks on the album, exemplifying like no other the whole concept of blackgaze. The contrast between the layered guitar sound and the quiet vocals is most impressive.
519. Rings – “I Wanna Be Free” (7” Single)
Rings were a little-known punk band who put out a couple of singles but never got round to releasing an album. This song, with its distinctive chopping guitar, descending chord structure and solid bass line, is the best.
518. The Beat – “Stand down Margaret” (I Just Can’t Stop It)
The Beat’s 1980 plea to Margaret Thatcher to go as her policies were not working, this song was a plea from a generation. When played live these days, the Beat sing “Stand down David”, directed at current Conservative Prime Minister Cameron.
517. Fischer-Z – “The Writer” (Red Skies over Paradise)
Side two of this album deals with the personal crises of individuals caught up in the politics described on the first side. This song is about a writer struggling to survive and is brought to life by the compelling synthesiser riff.
516. Croce, Jim – “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song” (I Got a Name)
An expressive and beautiful love song from the early seventies sung from the perspective a shy man who is struggling to express himself to his lover. Jim Croce’s premature death robbed us all of a great talent.
515. The Fish John West Reject – “Twenty Ways” (7” Single)
What a great name for a band! These Australian indie poppers have created a catchy little gem of a song which never featured on any of their albums but has subsequently resurfaced on later compilations.
514. Ride – “Vapour Trail” (Nowhere)
In my view, Ride are the masters of the dense, heavy style of shoegaze of the early nineties. This song is dominated by a swirling, cascading guitar sound which blends in slowly to the dense background.
513. Diana Ross and the Supremes – “Baby Love” (Where Did Our Love Go)
This was one of the Supremes greatest and most characteristic numbers, with an instantly recognisable melody and hook line. This song is often regarded as their best – but not by me as we shall see.
512. Springsteen, Bruce – “Born in the USA” (Born in the USA)
Despite being used by George W. Bush as a campaign song (until Springsteen put a stop to it), this is actually about a veteran returning from war only to be thrown on the scrapheap. Bush’s media advisers either played a massive joke on him or really didn’t listen to this before they selected it.
511. The Rolling Stones – “Paint It Black” (Aftermath)
Brian Jones shows off his multi-talented skills by playing the sitar with some skill. It also has a full-sounded bass apparently created by Bill Wyman thumping the bass pedals of an organ with his fists. The song is about colour draining from the world as a love affair ends.
510. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising” (Green River)
Another classic song from the repertoire of John Fogerty, and one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s most distinctive signature tunes. The song is about the coming apocalypse and was inspired by John Fogerty watching a film about hurricanes.
509. The Collectors – “Sideliner” (7” Single)
Another Chastain-Menck band and another great jangle pop song. Like most of their other projects, the Collectors never got anywhere but left behind this great song.
508. Dire Straits – “Tunnel of Love” (Making Movies)
Wistful, retrospective look at lost love and missed opportunities set against the background of a fairground. That wonderful rolling piano arpeggio towards the end really adds character and a sense of longing to the song.
507. The Housemartins – “Happy Hour” (London 0 Hull 4)
The opening song off the band’s debut album, the light and breezy nature of the music masked a sombre and darker lyric about desperation and set the tone for the music of the band throughout their existence.
506. ABBA – “SOS” (ABBA)
In the seventies in Europe, ABBA were pop music. A string of hits made them Sweden’s biggest export at the time. This is, to my mind, their best ever song which featured possibly their most understated melody.
505. The Triffids – “Jerdacuttup Man” (Calenture)
The plunging guitar sound underpins the story of this peat-bog corpse and his story of having been killed for losing in love and business. It is named after a district of vocalist David McComb’s home town.
504. World Party – “Ship of Fools” (Private Revolution)
World Party were a spin-off of the Waterboys but eventually developed their own distinctive style. “Ship of Fools” is a great number which stands head and shoulders above everything else on the album.
503. McTell, Blind Willie – “Statesboro Blues” (10” Single)
Ain’t no one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell, sang Bob Dylan, and McTell proves why. His distinctive, feminine-sounding voice describes how a whole family caught the blues. Many of the lyrics later resurfaced in Rory Gallagher’s “Bullfrog Blues”.
502. The Yardbirds – “Stroll On” (Blow Up)
Although the riff is a direct copy of Johnny Burnette’s “The Train Kept a-Rollin’” this song is notable for it was the first time a recording was made where two guitarists both played lead – Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
501. The House of Love – “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” (The House of Love (Fontana))
A grumbling riff underpins this love song which contains the fantastic line,”Your face is a hammer in my head”. This is the best of the band’s second incarnation after they left Creation records and signed to Fontana.