Do you have musical heroes? Are there those individuals who, for whatever reason, you admire beyond any others? I think we all do. Here are some of mine. John Watts, lead singer and songwriter with Fischer-Z, my favourite band. Jimmy Page, possibly the greatest guitarist of all time. Mick Jagger, the man who put the front in frontman. Finally, the single greatest known musical genius in the history of music, Ludwig van Beethoven. And if you look through this list you will see that all of them are more than amply represented. You may not agree with any or all of them but they helped shape and define my musical taste.
Within the next twenty tracks, the two-thirds marker will pass.
Charles Martel’s 340-321
340. Clarke, Jeremiah – “The Prince of Denmark’s March” (World’s Greatest Wedding Music)
Gloriously triumphant Baroque classical piece, this is often used as a wedding march. The piece is frequently wrongly-attributed to Henry Purcell, perhaps because Clarke, jilted in love, took the almost unheard of step for the eighteenth century of committing suicide and was buried in unconsecrated ground.
339. Marley, Bob – “Exodus” (Exodus)
Bob Marley’s finest moment was this song which encapsulates Rastafarian thinking about the exile of the blacks in the Caribbean and their desire to return, like the Israelites out of Egypt, to the promised land of Africa.
338. Bailter Space – “X” (Vortura)
Formed from the wreckage of a number of New Zealand bands, Bailter Space marked a completely different direction for Kiwi music. The male harmonies and jangly guitars were replaced by suppressed vocals and crunching guitars. “X” is the band’s best track, a grinding noise number.
337. The Radio Stars – “No Russians in Russia” (7” Single)
“There are no Russians in Russia
There are no turkeys in Turkey”.
The Radio Stars conduct you through a geography lesson of dubious accuracy in a song which, unusually for a punk track, features a harmonica solo.
336. Guadalcanal Diary – “Watusi Rodeo” (Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man)
Fantastic cowpunk number about a group of Texan cowboys holding a rodeo with water buffalo in Africa. The song was later covered by Reverend and the Makers and featured in an “Ace Ventura” movie.
335. Holly, Buddy – “Not Fade Away” (The Chirping Crickets)
Buddy Holly’s greatest track was a masterpiece of staccato guitar giving the rhythm a jerky feel to it. Listening to this it is easy to realise how much many of the guitar greats who followed owed to Buddy Holly.
334. Dury, Ian – “Sweet Gene Vincent” (New Boots and Panties)
A delightful piano-led intro sees Dury lament his hero. Then everything changes into a rollicking good rock and roll number. Ian Dury had been around for a long time on the London pub circuit but finally found fame when punk burst on the scene and he was one of the few to adapt to the new mood.
333. Pulp – “Common People” (Different Class)
Jarvis Cocker takes a well-aimed swipe at shallow and vacuous children of the rich who think it might be fun to live an ordinary life knowing that, at any time it gets too hard, Daddy’s money can rescue them while the real poor have to endure the life for real.
332. Ash – “Girl from Mars” (1977)
A love song to a girl who is now gone. Whether she came from Mars or not is not the point for, because of her absence, she might as well have done. This is a truly great powerpop number with an impressive rise in volume at the instrumental sections.
331. The Rolling Stones – “She’s So Cold” (Emotional Rescue)
The Stones manage to get this so right – the music almost sounds cold and inhospitable. Every time I hear this I imagine it as a video where the band play in a white featureless room while Jagger tries to seduce the Venus de Milo.
330. The Beatles – “Back in the USSR” (The Beatles)
Originally banned by the BBC because it was thought to praise Communism, this is actually nothing more than a tribute to the Beach Boys “California Girls” with reference to the Soviet Union. It is one of the best of the McCartney sung Beatles songs.
329. The Dead Kennedys – “Holiday in Cambodia” (Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables)
When the Dead Kennedys wrote this, Cambodia was in the grip of probably the most murderous and sadistic regime which has ever ruled anywhere on this planet outside the demented mind of a psychopath. The song was directed at those in the west who thought they had a hard time of things.
328. Split Enz – “I Got You” (True Colours)
Split Enz were probably the most successful New Zealand band of all time. “I Got You” was their biggest worldwide hit and the jerky feel to it made it an unlikely dance hit in some of the more forward looking clubs of the UK.
327. The Candyskins – “She Blew Me Away” (Space I’m In)
The Candyskins started out as a jangle pop outfit in the eighties and this wonderful number is the highlight of that phase of their career. By the early nineties they tried to adapt to a more Britpop style but never came across to fans at the time as convincing and soon fell by the wayside.
326. Hendrix, Jimi – “Purple Haze” (Are You Experienced?)
Classic Jimi Hendrix with a riff that has been copied and modified by scores of metal bands through the years. Hendrix denied it was a drug related song and said that it was actually a love song. The title is derived from a reference in Dickens’s “Great Expectations.”
325. The Animals – “We Gotta Get out of This Place” (7” Single)
The Animals took this number and modified the lyrics somewhat to make it feel less like it belonged in New York and more like Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the harsh life of the working class there. The song later became popular with US troops in Vietnam.
324. Petty, Tom – “The Waiting” (Hard Promises)
Tom Petty has never reached me the way many artists of his calibre have done and I have often been put off by that excessively whiny, nasal voice. But does he turn a good guitar hook on this track or what?
323. Howlin’ Wolf – “Killing Floor” (7” Single)
Magnificent Howlin’ Wolf song which defines the whole Chicago Blues scene in a classic twelve-bar format. The title is a reference to the situation when a woman has got you so far down that you wish you were dead. Howlin’ Wolf died virtually penniless and his funeral and tombstone were paid for by Eric Clapton.
322. Big Country – “In a Big Country” (The Crossing)
The song which defined Big Country in so many ways, this song features so many of the elements which made Big Country’s early work so great. It was also their only hit in the US and maybe the only Big Country track many in the US will have heard.
321. Fine Young Cannibals – “She Drives Me Crazy” (The Raw and the Cooked)
A great slow dance number from this British group, this is marked out by an unusual snare drum popping sound created by recording it separately with a speaker feedbacking the sound into the drum and the microphone at the same time.