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Charles Martel’s Top 1000: Part 31

posted May 21, 2014, 12:30 am by CharlesMartel | Filed Under Recommendations from the Writer's Mind, Video | comment Leave a Comment


How do we define bad music? It can be ‘bad’ on more than one level, not just the obvious, badly performed. Although any piece of music will be ruined by a bad performance, can a good performance rescue something that is badly written? Can a well-written piece of music be spoilt by inappropriate performing, such as a soulful love song could be ruined by attempting to play it in the style of a raucous punk band? And above all, is something which you or I consider to be ‘bad’ for whatever reason, universally ‘bad’ thereby? Are there indeed universal yardsticks for defining badness? The answer is probably not. And this is where subjectivity in musical taste is a key factor. If there was a universal yardstick then it would be impossible for someone like William Hung ever to be let anywhere near a recording studio.

And so we pass into the 300’s.

Charles Martel’s 400-381

400. The Specials – “Ghost Town” (The Specials)

Hooray Henries of the Tory squirearchy during the eighties, taking their cue from Cabinet Ministers seeking to deflect attention away from their ruinous policies, blamed this song for the riots which swept Britain in 1981, ignoring the fact that if you throw millions out of work, shut down industry, ruin the prospects of young people and then subject the ethnic minorities among the latter to incessant police racism you are bound to get a backlash sooner or later.

399. Talk Talk – “Talk Talk” (The Party’s Over)

Talk Talk later changed into probably the first post-rock outfit, but their earlier work was some great synth pop, of which this number was characteristic. The driving force behind the band was the brother of the Eddie and the Hot Rods manager

398. The Beatles – “Get Back” (Let It Be)

We have all seen that video of the Beatles playing this live on the roof – it is one of the iconic moments of sixties popular music culture. But don’t let this cause you to overlook that this was one of the best Beatles songs.

397. Palmer, Robert – “Addicted to Love” (Riptide)

Would I still love this song if it did not have that amazing video which accompanied it? I think the answer is yes for it is a strong, thumping dance song with a wonderful grinding guitar sound and Palmer’s rich vocal.

396. Van Halen – “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love” (Van Halen)

We can blame Van Halen, and Dave Lee Roth in particular, for a lot of things – hair metal for one. But there is no doubt their debut album was a classic and this track is probably the best thing the band ever did.

395. Men at Work – “Down Under” (Business as Usual)

Despite the band later being sued for plagiarising that flute line, this is a great song about what it means to be an Australian in the world today. Men at Work never achieved another hit and are, in the UK at least, an archetype of the ‘one hit wonder’.

394. The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey” (Psychocandy)

The influence of this album on British indie music in the nineties and beyond is incalculable. But at their heart the Jesus and Mary Chain were a pop band who cloaked their music in distortion and feedback. This track is the best balance between those two competing influences they managed to achieve.

393. Blue Zoo – “Love Moves in Strange Ways” (Two by Two)

A slow burning, quite sad song about how a pair of lovers gradually lose the connection between them and the ability to communicate their feelings. The vocal during the refrain is so full and plaintiff, like a cry for love and understanding.

392. Louisiana Red – “Alabama Train” (A Different Shade of Red)

Louisiana Red modifies a standard twelve bar blues riff by slightly sustaining some chords to make his guitar sound like a train rolling down the tracks. Meanwhile, his gruff voice sings of the joys of going back home.

391. Dr Feelgood – “She Does It Right” (Stupidity)

Another classic Dr. Feelgood live track with plenty of get up and go. This has an infectious riff and features some of the best drumming by the Big Figure recorded live. It is a pity pub rock was swept away by punk for Dr. Feelgood deserved to be bigger

390. Pachelbel, Johan – “Canon in D” (Canon and Gigue)

Most of the work of Johann Pachelbel, which dates from the seventeenth century, was lost, including this piece, and only rediscovered in the early twentieth century. It soon became a popular classical piece and deservedly so.

389. The Doors – “Riders on the Storm” (LA Woman)

Incorporating real recorded sounds of thunder and rain, the organ was specially set to sound like falling rain as well. This was the last single released before Jim Morrison’s death and actually entered the charts in the US on the day he died.

388. Cornershop – “Brimful of Asha” (When I Was Born for the 7th Time)

Cornershop are a British pop outfit some of whose members are of Indian descent. This is their best-known number, full of references to Bollywood musical movies and containing that wonderful line – “Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow” – a statement which is self-evidently true.

387. The Smiths – “How Soon Is Now” (7” Single)

Johnny Marr takes a break from jangly guitars and instead turns his hand to one extended, mournful bending guitar chord. Possibly the most un-Smiths like of all Smiths tracks, that is what seems to make it stand out.

386. The Members – “Sound of the Suburbs” (At the Chelsea Night Club)

The Members set alarm bells ringing among the self-appointed respectable members of society by moving punk rock out into the suburbs. The Members deliberately set themselves up as middle-class punks to broaden the music’s appeal.

385. Dire Straits – “Romeo and Juliet” (Making Movies)

Dire Straits bring the story of Romeo and Juliet into the modern era with this tale of love on the housing estates of Britain and how the story might unfold had it actually taken place in twentieth century London instead of medieval Verona.

384. Orbison, Roy – “Oh, Pretty Woman” (7” Single)

That twangy guitar sound and Orbison’s distinctive high-pitched voice are trademarks of Roy Orbison’s style. This great song from the early sixties is undoubtedly his signature tune and remains a firm favourite today.

383. The Jacobites – “Where the Rivers End” (Robespierre’s Velvet Basement)

Nikki Sudden was formerly involved in the Swell Maps. On leaving he formed the Jacobites and released this almost lo-fi album of tracks recorded seemingly in one take. “Where the Rivers End” is the most expressive and, shall we say, well-rehearsed track on the album.

382. The Field Mice – “Sensitive” (Snowball)

Robert Wratten’s fragile voice and jangly guitars are clearly in evidence in this great number by the Field Mice. In an attempt to distance themselves from a generic C-86 sound, “Sensitive” features a slower tempo and a shoegaze type guitar sound in places.

381. The Comsat Angels – “Driving” (My Mind’s Eye)

Known as the CS Angels in the USA because of copyright issues, the band struggled with their original record company, Sire, over musical direction. Ironically, this was their best album, recorded after they broke with Sire and this track has a great riff, especially if you play it on a road trip.

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