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Charles Martel’s Top 1000: Part 19

posted February 26, 2014, 12:30 am by CharlesMartel | Filed Under Music News, Recommendations from the Writer's Mind | comment Leave a Comment

There is a word which every music critic in the history of music criticism will use at least once. No matter how hard you strive to avoid it, that word will keep popping up and you will be forced to confront it. You will consult a thesaurus to try to identify alternatives, but in the end, this word will knock on the door of your mind until you finally let it in. And that word is…….”over-rated”! We all have our bands/songs/albums which meet that description – Yes/”A Day in the Life”/”OK Computer” are just a few of mine. Don’t confuse over-rated with over-familiar. Just because you have heard a song so often does not make it over-rated – you are probably just tired of hearing it. In truth, if you think about it, it probably is a classic. You’ve just probably heard too much of it.

As Curtis once said, “Move on up!”

Charles Martel’s 640-621

640. Blue Oyster Cult – “Debbie Denise” (Agents of Fortune)

Blue Oyster Cult’s love song to a lover left behind while the band goes touring was obviously autobiographical. It has a rhythm which mirrors the heart-rending emotion of the experience.

639. Al Stewart – “Roads to Moscow” (Past, Present and Future)

Al Stewart’s take on the plight of those described in Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago” is a grim and foreboding number, the highlight of an artist who specialised in writing songs about historical events.

638. The Troggs – “Wild Thing” (7” Single)

Thick and sludgy garage music which was originally written for another band. The Troggs picked it up and turned into a classic and a hit.

637. The Hold Steady – “Stuck Between Stations” (Boys and Girls in America)

Fast paced rocker which sets the scene for the latest instalment of the disaffected young people of the album’s title and the inconsistencies and contradictions in their lives.

636. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – “Make Me Smile (Come up and See Me)” (The Best Years of Our Lives)

Steve Harley’s biggest hit, a glam classic from the early seventies. The acoustic guitar solo was, amazingly, recorded during a sound check and later found to surpass all attempts to recreate it in the studio.

635. The New Pornographers – “Letter from an Occupant” (Mass Romantic)

The New Pornographers are a kind of Canadian supergroup and feature Neko Case on vocals. This song was assembled and reassembled from a variety of mixes and, despite that, is the best track on the album.

634. Spencer Davis Group – “Keep on Runnin’” (Gimme Some Lovin’)

Written by Jamaican artist Jackie Edwards, this was the song which, more than any other, established Island records as a force in the recording industry.

633. McKenzie, Scott – “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)” (The Voice of Scott McKenzie)

The ultimate hippie anthem, if this song was designed to be the signature tune of the Summer of Love it could not have been more pertinent.

632. New Order – “Temptation” (12” Single)

This song was released as two separate versions on 12” and 7” format. The former is better, with its emphasis on the electronically generated rhythm. This was the first single in the UK to be recorded in digital format.

631. The Connells – “Scotty’s Lament” (Boylan Heights)

American jangle pop has a more country feel to it than its British counterpart. This track opens with a Celtic flavour before a stark chord shift takes into a charming and engaging song.

630. Adorable – “A to Fade In” (Against Perfection)

Thundering shoegaze tinged track from Adorable, a band who had enormous promise and threw it all away by pissing off everybody who came into contact with them.

629. Fischer-Z – “The Worker” (Word Salad)

Fischer-Z’s first single, written by John Watts about his father, describes the mind-numbing, soul-crushing reality of life in the lower middle class of England in the seventies.

628. The Au Pairs – “Diet” (7” Single)

The UK’s favourite eighties feminist band take a pot shot at the expectations and lack of aspirations of married women, while singling out for scorn a number of household products whose advertisements were targeted at the ‘housewife’. Although this later appeared on the band’s debut album, the single released a year earlier is the superior version. One of two singles where both the A-Side and the B-Side are on this list.

627. The Flamin’ Groovies – “Louie Louie” (Teenage Head)

One of the many covers of this classic song, the Flamin’ Groovies turn the whole thing into a massive jam session.

626. The Last Peach – “Miles over There” (7” Single)

The Last Peach provided an early nineties take on jangle pop. They released only two singles, of which this is undoubtedly the best, before fading away.

625. Gallagher, Rory – Walking on Hot Coals” (Irish Tour ’74)

Rory Gallagher was regarded by none other than Jimi Hendrix as the world’s greatest guitarist. This amazing live performance showcases Gallagher’s talent which, together with the extended piano solo, is the highlight.

624. Dylan, Bob – “Blowin’ in the Wind” (The Freewheeling Bob Dylan)

One of Dylan’s earliest protest songs, it raises a number of subjects through a series of rhetorical questions and then declares the answer is “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Never figured out if that meant the answer was obvious or impossible to get a grip on.

623. Secret Shine – “Loveblind” (Untouched)

From the first incarnation of the band before they broke up in the mid-nineties, “Loveblind” features the characteristic vocal structure of this unique shoegaze outfit.

622. The Rosaries – “Anything” (7” Single)

The Rosaries were an Irish jangle pop band who signed to Sarah Records, one of the major independent labels of the late eighties and nineties. As far as I can tell they only recorded three songs, of which this is the best.

621. Bach, Johann Sebastian – “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire” (Hert und Munz und Tat und Leben)

The tenth and last movement of Bach’s cantata, this is one of Bach’s most enduring and recognisable pieces.


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