Of course there are some who valiantly fight against this major label hegemony. Indeed, the Enemies List label states that it declares war on the majors. Independent record labels do their best and labels such as Cherry Red, Renascent, Rhino and the like specialise in reissuing lost classics. But they cannot take on the financial clout of the big companies. Individual bands also try by putting out their music for free on their own websites. But they are fighting a losing battle. What is needed is a new musical revolution. In the seventies, punk caught the UK record industry very badly out. The latter failed to appreciate the impact would have and seriously underestimated it. They thought they had recovered by the end of the seventies but then along came synth pop to catch them out again. EMI nearly went bust – twice. The time has come to turn away from major label output. Find what you can. Promote what you can. Avoid the major labels in favour of the indie. If we can drive these tottering dinosaurs out of business then musical creativity will be saved. Do your bit!
And now we move into the 400’s.
Charles Martel’s 500-481
500. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Spread Your Love” (BRMC)
You can’t get much cooler than having one of your songs form part of the incidental music in a Vin Diesel movie, so you can’t get much cooler than this.
499. Hornsby, Bruce & the Range – “The Way It Is” (The Way It Is)
Back in the eighties, Bruce Hornsby and the Range released this song about social injustice prevalent in Reagan’s America. Seems that a lot of things haven’t changed in thirty years for the song is still topical.
498. Mayfield, Curtis – “Move on Up” (Curtis)
Curtis Mayfield combines some groovy soul with politics on his debut album, off which this is the undoubted highlight with a magnificent horn section and Mayfield’s inspired guitar work being the outstanding features.
497. The Psychedelic Furs – “Dumb Waiters” (Talk Talk Talk)
A snarky riff with a great sax line involved in matching the guitars gives way to a grindingly dense song. Full of Butler’s usual nonsensical lyrics it is the opening track of the Psychedelic Furs’ greatest album
496. The Rifles – “Narrow Minded Social Club” (No Love Lost)
The plight of people in the UK today and the danger of suffering random acts of violence are admirably delineated in this track off the Rifles’ debut album. Unlike the rest of the album, this is a slower number which belies the otherwise powerpop stance the band took.
495. The Rolling Stones – “Brown Sugar” (Sticky Fingers)
Dedicated to Mick Jagger’s clandestine girlfriend, Marsha Hunt, Jagger’s infatuation with her is compared to heroin addiction (brown sugar being slang for unrefined heroin). Always a party favourite, it is dominated by that wonderful, screaming sax solo.
494. Led Zeppelin – “Ten Years Gone” (Physical Graffiti)
Possibly the most-underrated of all Led Zeppelin tracks, it describes someone looking back at a relationship where the girl asked Jimmy Page to choose between her or music. Luckily he made the right choice. Page uses multiple overdubs to get the sound right.
493. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Simple Man” (Pronounced Leh-nerd Skeh-nerd)
Motherly advice to a son is the theme of this song. It is often overlooked among the other great songs on the band’s debut album and has a superb sound to it which is quite unlike anything else you are likely to hear
492. The Stone Roses – “This Is the One” (The Stone Roses)
The Stone Roses do quiet-loud-quiet to great effect with this track from their great debut album. The guitar work on this, shifting between the calm mellow sections and driving sections, is particularly noteworthy.
491. The Righteous Brothers – “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” (You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling)
One of the Righteous Brothers’ best loved songs, it lost out, unbelievably, to a cover by Cilla Black in the UK singles charts despite the fact that Black could not reach the climactic high notes at the end and her version was curtailed to avoid it.
490. The Smiths – “What Difference Does It Make” (The Smiths)
If eighties jangle pop had a start in the UK it was here. Whether the Smiths actually borrowed anything from R.E.M. is unknown. Morrissey has stated that it is among his least favourite Smith’s song though with that distinctive opening riff by Johnny Marr it is unmistakeable.
489. The Cars – “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” (The Cars)
Another great track from the Cars off their fantastic debut album. This track makes full use of the synthesiser as the dominant instrument, especially during the refrains and combine it well with a guitar leading the verses.
488. Amesoeurs – “Les Ruches Malades” (Amesoeurs)
Amesoeurs were a spin-off of Alcest and featured Audrey Silvain on lead vocals. This track, with a strong post punk feel to it, is the undoubted highlight of the album which has a strong environmental message.
487. The Replacements – “Unsatisfied” (Let It Be)
Paul Westerburg’s voice seems to break up as he sings this passionate song about dissatisfaction in a relationship. It structure is quite unlike anything else on the album and is dominated by the acoustic guitar.
486. Another Sunny Day – “You Should All Be Murdered” (London Weekend)
Another Sunny Day list all the people they would like to kill in this jangle pop number which is made by a great extended guitar solo which plays the song out. The vocalist’s resemblance to Morrissey is uncanny.
485. Alphaville – “Forever Young” (Forever Young)
At times German synth-pop could be cold and dispassionate, but not so with Alphaville. This track is the highlight of a unique album which takes German synth-pop to a much more mellow and warm place.
484. Meat Loaf – “Bat out of Hell” (Bat out of Hell)
Probably Meat Loaf’s best known song, this is all about the fiery nature of youth and the risks young people take leading, tragically, to a fatal motorcycle accident. Todd Rundgren’s guitar work is a highlight.
483. Pickett, Wilson – “In the Midnight Hour” (In the Midnight Hour)
This song also appeared on Picket’s “The Exciting Wilson Pickett” album a year after its first release. A distinctive melody combines well with Pickett’s voice. Another song which has been covered by any number of artists.
482. The Everly Brothers – “All I Have to Do Is Dream” (7” Single)
The Everly Brothers managed to get quite risqué with this. Ostensibly about pining for that girl and only able to find her love in dreams, it could easily be interpreted as an invitation to masturbation. Except that this was the fifties and masturbation hadn’t been invented then.
481. Eurythmics – “Would I Lie to You?” (Be Yourself Tonight)
The Eurythmics had a great pop career in the eighties with their own distinctive brand of synth pop and a string of UK hits. This track combines well with an energetic horn section to create the band’s best song.