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Charles Martel’s Top 1000: Part 6

posted November 27, 2013, 12:30 am by Brian Rutherford | Filed Under Music News | comment Leave a Comment


Carrying on from last week, if technical proficiency alone is not a guarantee of inclusion – quite the reverse it may seem – then what militates against it. The answer is deceptively simple. A melody. My top 1000 contains little or nothing which could be considered ambient; very few long complicated passages of difficult to play but difficult to listen to virtuosity; and nothing which is atonal for a prolonged period. Call me old fashioned, but I enjoy a good tune and a song without a good tune, or hook, or riff, call it what you will, is not going to stick with me long enough to get included on the list. Music which I only notice when it stops playing is not music but an aural equivalent of wallpaper.

Onto the 800’s.

Charles Martel’s 900-881

900. Black – “Wonderful Life” (Wonderful Life)

Colin Vearncombe (who was the one man band, Black) had this minor hit which briefly threatened to take post-punk into the UK mainstream. It failed, but it was a worthy effort and a good track.

899. The Besnard Lakes – “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Part 2” (The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night)

There is something majestic about this song which is hard to describe. This was clearly the band’s intention and many of the songs on the album aspire to the same effect, but only this one really achieves it.

898. The Pretenders – “Precious” (The Pretenders)

From their debut album, this is the Pretenders being more new wave than pop. That cascading guitar and the power of the vocals makes this probably the album’s best track.

897. Girls Names – “The New Life” (The New Life)

A lot of current bands try to be post-punk but Belfast’s Girls Names have managed it more successfully than most. The title track of their second album is a fine way to demonstrate how they have achieved it.

896. Free – “Alright Now” (Fire and Water)

Possibly the most easily identifiable riff in rock music, a riff which has been copied by dozens of other artists, no list of top 1000 would be complete without this song, even though this is not Free’s best (as we shall see).

895. Blind Blake – “Police Dog Blues” (10″ Single)

A man who, it was said, could make his guitar sound like a ragtime piano, Blind Blake was one the most skilful of all pre-war blues artists. This is the best song from a man who, according to the collection of urban myths surrounding his death was killed by a streetcar while drunk and dying of tuberculosis. He was only 38.

894. Mary Goes Round – “Mary’s Garden” (70 Suns in the Sky)

A surprisingly good track. I say surprisingly because the French are not noted for their English-language post-punk.

893. The Fact – “Friend for Life” (Always There EP)

This has a great sound: a driving rhythm, rolling drums and a vocal which is set back and dreamy. The Fact sounded either Australian or Canadian (but were actually German) and disappeared without trace soon after releasing this. But look at the hair – aaah, the eighties!!!!

892. Coldplay – “Trouble” (Parachutes)

When Chris Martin is not being a pretentious arse and calling his children Watermelon and Methuselah, he can actually write a good song. The wonderful piano line is what makes this one stand out.

891. Stevens, Cat – “Wild World” (Tea for the Tillerman)

Before Cat Stevens became Yusuf Islam he had a distinguished career as a pop artist in early seventies UK. This song, written by him, was a hit for other artists, notably Ken Boothe, before Stevens recorded it himself.

890. The Heart Throbs – “Dreamtime” (Cleopatra Grip)

Early nineties alternative rockers who used explicit sexual imagery in their songs, deliver their best work with this haunting number.

889. The Underlings – “That Little Girl” (7″ Single)

Another in the collection of got-nowhere bands from the eighties and nineties, the Underlings released this marvellous post-punk-jangle pop crossover from 1986. Don’t confuse this British band with the one from Eugene, Oregon just because they have the same name.

888. The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy” (Boys and Girls in America)

If there was ever such a thing in America as pub rock, the Hold Steady would be the leading exponents of it. The saga of the three kids continues with Holly winning a load of money on the horses and blowing it all on drugs.

887. Nada Surf – “When I Was Young” (The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy)

Though the album as a whole was disappointing, this particular song, with its slow build to an epic refrain, stood head and shoulders above everything else.

886. Deutsche-Amerikanische Freundschaft – “Der Mussolini” (12″ Single)

Driving dance song from this German electro-pop duo. I don’t speak German but I am told that the song compares the dance moves of a disco to the actions of Mussolini, Hitler and Jesus Christ. Not for the politically correct.

885. Artesia – “Invitation” (Chants d’Automne)

When the French got hold of darkwave, they went all Arthurian on us. Artesia is undoubtedly the finest of all French darkwavers and this song conjures up the images you would expect from a pre-Raphaelite painting.

884. Mussorgsky, Modest – “La Grande Porte de Kiev” (Pictures at an Exhibition)

The final piece in this suite by Mussorgsky, his most famous work. Never mind the pretentious cover by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, just listen to the triumphal majesty of this.

883. Del Rey, Lana – “Video Games” (Born to Die)

The voice of 2012. The woman who put passion and elegance back into pop music, this at times beautiful song was a surprise hit in 2012

882. Sinatra, Nancy – “These Boots Were Made for Walking” (Boots)

A superb baseline and a catchy melody combine here with some memorable lyrics to bring to life this great pop song from the mid-sixties

881. The Rolling Stones – “Ruby Tuesday” (Between the Buttons)

A song which has even had a restaurant named after it, this features Brian Jones on the recorder and Keith Richard playing the double bass with a bow. It has a great melody and conveys a sense of loss and longing.

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