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Charles Martel’s Top 1000: Part 27

posted April 23, 2014, 12:30 am by CharlesMartel | Filed Under Music News, Recommendations from the Writer's Mind, Video | comment Leave a Comment

I have been asked in the past, not the least by Mrs Martel, why music is so important to me. I can only explain in the most general terms, that it was what I grew up with. Music spoke to me and said things about me in ways in which I could not. Music represented to me something which was completely my own and no outside power could control. I could get in trouble at school or at home for not following rules, but no power on Earth could compel me to stop liking Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones or whoever. As the years passed, music reinforced self-image. A few months ago there was a documentary on BBC4 about the history of the vinyl album. One commentator, a DJ, said that on walking into a person’s home he could immediately tell what sort of person lived there simply by looking at what was in his album collection. I look at my album collection and realise that what it says about me is pretty accurate.

Closer and closer we come.

Charles Martel’s 480-461

480. Sixteen Horsepower – “Black Soul Choir” (Sackcloth ‘n’ Ashes)

A grim and foreboding song, full of all the fire and brimstone of a Calvinist sermon reflecting the band’s religious leanings. Yet strangely compelling. There is more guilt in this than in a year of Catholic liturgy.

479. White, Josh – “Uncle Sam Says” (Southern Exposure)

Josh White states the blindingly obvious – that if white and black young men are going to be sent to die in World War II, why are they treated differently? After its release, White was invited to the White House to discuss the treatment of blacks with Roosevelt. But it took another twenty years before things started to change.

478. Phair, Liz – “Never Said” (Exile in Guyville)

Liz Phair was the original angry young woman and “Exile in Guyville” was her debut album. In places the tracks are too sparse and render the album patchy, but this track is a good full-sounding one which is the best of the bunch.

477. The Chameleons – “Less Than Human” (Script of the Bridge)

The Chameleons set out the feelings of youth alienation and helplessness in this track. A grumbling rhythm section is overlaid with sparse guitars to create a somewhat sinister track that still sounds good today.

476. Ever – “Sleepyhead” (Uncle Arthur’s Pop Parlour)

You’ll never get hold of this now. Originally released on a flexi-single and then on a cassette issue of unsigned bands, you will only ever find this on YouTube now. So, take time out to enjoy this charmingly naive jangle pop classic.

475. Bowie, David – “Life on Mars” (Hunky Dory)

Often regarded as Bowie’s best track, it was so evocative of the early seventies that its name was used for an off-beat British police show where a modern cop is transported back to the early seventies in some weird time warp.

474. The Korgis – “Everybody’s Got to Learn Some Time” (Dumb Waiters)

The band emerged from the ruins of Stackridge and this was their second album. Dominated by a mournful synthesiser, this track threatened to bridge the gap between post-punk and mainstream New Romantics. It was later re-recorded by the band as a charity single for the International Hostage Release Foundation.

473. The Wedding Present – “My Favourite Dress” (George Best)

Another great Wedding Present track, this deals with the break-up of a relationship symbolised by the protagonist’s fondness for an article of his girlfriend’s clothing. The track features some great, rapid guitar work and, as always with the Wedding Present, clever lyrics.

472. The Small Faces – “Afterglow of Your Love” (Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake)

Released as a single but never officially sanctioned by the band which broke up around the time. It is a warm and comforting track about love and managed to confuse the BBC into playing it because the idiots who ran the radio side of the corporation never realised what an afterglow referred to.

471. Brighter – “Killjoy” (Disney EP)

Brighter were one of those bands who signed to the now legendary Sarah record label. This song is typical of the output of many bands on the label in what became known as the “Sarah Sound”. It is a bright and cheerful jangle pop song from a band who never fulfilled their promise.

470. The Weakerthans – “Exiles Among You” (Left and Leaving)

A great song from the Weakerthans about a homeless young girl on the streets of a nameless city – could be a city near you. And that is the point, to remind you that such people are out there and we ignore them all the time. The song contains one of the finest metaphors ever written in a song – “My fury’s rising faster than bus fares.”

469. The Brilliant Corners – “Why Do You Have to Go out with Him?” (7″ Single)

Last year this was finally released on an album, a retrospective compilation of the work of the Brilliant Corners. It is a wonderful jangle pop number with a catchy refrain which is made all the memorable by the female backing vocal singing the descant.

468. The Skids – “Into the Valley” (Scared to Dance)

A grumbling intro leads into a crash, and the song is off. The Skids released this shortly before the band broke up and it is the undoubted highlight of their output. I shall forever remember an energetic Richard Jobson displaying his inability to dance on Top of the Pops.

467. Nirvana – “Come as You Are” (Nevermind)

Although this probably ripped off the Killing Joke’s “Eighties”, it is nonetheless a great track. After Cobain’s suicide several commentators attempted to link the line “and I don’t have a gun” to his death in a feeble attempt to demonstrate Cobain’s alleged prophetic qualities.

466. The Wallflowers – “Blushing Girl Nervous Smile” (7” Single)

Quite possibly one of the most naively charming of all jangle pop songs from the eighties, this is an endearing number which cannot fail to make you smile. It has a quite sharp riff which dominates during the instrumental passages.

465. Enya – “Orinoco Flow” (Watermark)

The former Clannad vocalist released this remarkable track in the eighties which featured multiple vocal samples to produce a dreamy sound. Oddly, this is not about the South American river but is inspired by the name of the studio where it was recorded.

464. Waters, Muddy – “Mannish Boy” (10” Single)

That simple twelve-bar bass line has featured in so many tracks it is hard to believe that it predates even Muddy Waters. Covered by many artists, often under the title of “I’m a Man”, it is one of the most influential of all blues songs.

463. The Corn Dollies – “Forever Steven” (7″ Single)

The Corn Dollies flirted with a number of different sounds on their few studio albums, but “Forever Steven” was an unashamed jangle pop song which is a classic of its time. It is a real pity that so many songs like this are now virtually forgotten.

462. New Order – “True Faith” (12” Single)

Despite a cover version by George Michael which plumbed previously unheard of depths of stupidity, banality and sheer awfulness, New Order’s original synth pop track remains one of the most expressive and popular tracks of its era.

461. Morrison, Van – “Brown Eyed Girl” (Blowin’ Your Mind)

Van Morrison strikes out on his own with this number. Though still sounding a bit like Mick Jagger as he did with Them, this well-known number has a distinctive calypso feel about it which presaged Morrison’s later versatility.


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