So, can you appreciate music you don’t like? That is a difficult question to answer. The simplest answer I can think of is ‘why would you want to?’ If there is a musical style I do not like I can think of no valid reason to want to listen to it. I might be able to say that it is technically well-performed or something, but that is still not going to make me want to listen to it. That is why I struggle with so much prog rock – I simply do not find it appealing enough despite the fact that it is often well-performed. Same goes for some of the more obscurantist forms of jazz. But don’t confuse poor-performance with poor production – they are two entirely separate animals.
We will be two thirds of the way through with this twenty.
Charles Martel’s 380-361
380. Big Dipper – “All Going out Together” (Heavens)
Boston outfit Big Dipper released four albums in the late eighties. This wonderfully joyous track was originally issued as a single before being featured on their debut album. The song was featured on a video game and in films as well.
379. Blur – “Song 2” (Blur)
The most noticeable feature of this track is Damon Albarn yelling “woo hoo” over a fuzz bass line. It is a fast and energetic number, despite its brevity, and is probably Blur’s most recognisable signature tune.
378. The Boomtown Rats – “I Never Loved Eva Braun” (A Tonic for the Troops)
There are not many songs which can get away with a lyric where Adolf Hitler is the protagonist, especially one which so humorously belittles the crimes of the man. Yet this parodies Hitler’s actions by making him claim that, whatever he had done, he had never loved Eva Braun.
377. The Waterboys – “This Is the Sea” (This Is the Sea)
Piano led song with a full sound and really expressive lyrics make this one of the great songs of the Waterboys’ finest album. As with most of the songs, the subject is the gap between what one does and one can achieve.
376. Fauré, Gabriel – “Pavane” (Pavane)
A pavane is a slow, ceremonial Spanish court dance and Fauré took his inspiration from that. The piece moves slowly, alternately growing and decreasing in a series of mini-climaxes until it reaches its conclusion
375. Tosh, Peter – “Steppin’ Razor” (Equal Rights)
A Stepping Razor is Jamaican slang for a dangerous man and was the nickname Tosh got early in his career. This starts out as crooning song sounding as if it were played on the radio and quickly morphs into one of reggae’s finest numbers
374. The Jam – “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” (All Mod Cons)
A grim story of fear and brutality on a late night journey on London’s underground. A man is beaten and robbed by thugs. The most chilling part is contained in the lines –
“They took my keys
And she’ll think it’s me”
hinting at worse horrors to come. Thankfully, the Tube is a lot safer now than it was in the late seventies.
373. The Cure – “Just Like Heaven” (Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me)
If there is such a thing as an archetypal Cure guitar sound then this song surely contains it. That shimmering, cascading riff is the part of the song which draws the listener towards it. It was covered by Dinosaur Jr. Almost immediately after it was released.
372. Cream – “Sunshine of Your Love” (Disraeli Gears)
With a rhythm based on West African drumming and a distinctive bass and guitar riff, this is one of the most recognisable of all Cream tracks. Atlantic were originally not going to release it as a single until persuaded to do so By Booker T. Jones.
371. Jackson, Joe – “It’s Different for Girls” (I’m the Man)
It is normally assumed that it is the male of the species which has commitment issues. Joe Jackson turns that notion on its head with this song and making the man plead for commitment from his girlfriend shows how shallow and insubstantial many of the excuses men make actually are.
370. Dire Straits – “Down by the Waterline” (Dire Straits)
This, the first song off the band’s debut album, introduced the world to the unique and expressive guitar sounds of Mark Knopfler. Ever since I first heard it, I have always loved the way the opening chords express the sound of a distant ship’s horn over the lapping waves on a foggy evening.
369. Placebo – “Nancy Boy” (Placebo)
Placebo are not the Kinks and “Nancy Boy” is not “Lola”, though there is a similarity in theme for some people to get confused. A great song about cross-dressing which Brian Molko’s distinctive voice seems to emphasise.
368. The Clash – “The Guns of Brixton” (London Calling)
Another song which was blamed for the 1981 riots in the UK, but the Clash were simply predicting what was going to happen if things continued the way they were going. That they happened was the fault of those who didn’t listen – the Tories and the Police.
367. The Isley Brothers – “This Old Heart of Mine” (This Old Heart of Mine)
Amazingly, this was the only hit the band had while signed to the Motown label. It was originally intended for use by the Supremes but Ronald Isley persuaded Berry Gordy to let his band do it. He later sang a duet on it with Rod Stewart which turned out to be a massive hit.
366. Sledge, Percy – “When a Man Loves a Woman” (When a Man Loves a Woman)
This much-covered song was released by Percy Sledge in 1966. It is another of those great sixties classics which is based on a modification of the bass line chord progressions in Bach’s “Air on a G String”
365. Comus – “Song to Comus” (First Utterance)
The Comus of Greek mythology was a son of Bacchus who revelled in drunken chaos. The Comus of this song is an evil creature who preys on the weak and the vulnerable. This is the best song from this highly disturbing album about rape, torture, degradation and mental illness.
364. Rush – “Soliloquy” (2112)
I have always broken down Rush’s epic “2112” into its component parts. The “Soliloquy”, where the dejected discoverer of the guitar retreats from the world is marked by a wonderful guitar solo from Alex Lifeson. I often wondered how, at the end of the whole piece, the sudden appearance of superbeings announcing “we assume control, we assume control” was consistent with Ayn Rand’s selfish libertarian philosophy on which “2112” was apparently based.
363. The Four Tops – “Reach out I’ll Be There” (Reach Out)
Quite probably the finest moment in Levi Stubbs long career with the Four Tops and one of the highlights of the Motown era, this number features a great singalong chorus, some bouncy drum flourishes and great horns.
362. Fischer-Z – “Song and Dance Brigade” (Red Skies over Paradise)
Opening with a lower-end guitar arpeggio but dominated by a distinctive synthesiser line, this was the best track on the B-Side of this great Fischer-Z album. It deals with the changing fashions in musical taste.
361. The Cranberries – “Zombie” (No Need to Argue)
This was the Cranberries most political number, about the ongoing troubles in Ireland and harking back to the 1916 Easter Rising. It emphasises the futility and pointlessness of living in the past and letting old wounds fester.