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Charles Martel’s Top 1000: Part 35

posted June 18, 2014, 12:30 am by CharlesMartel | Filed Under Recommendations from the Writer's Mind, Video | comment Leave a Comment


Do you remember the first piece of music you ever bought? In my case it was a single, purchased in early 1969, the Archies’ ”Sugar Sugar”. The first album I bought was shortly after my twelfth birthday, “Led Zeppelin II”. Though the Archies’ single is long gone, I still have that original vinyl of the Led Zeppelin LP. I still remember the circumstances under which I bought that album, trawling through the comparatively small number of racks of albums in W.H. Smiths for about an hour until I finally decided on the purchase. Looking back, it was a moment which changed my life and began my forty year long (so far) love affair with music.

The next twenty tracks bring us closer to the 200’s.

Charles Martel’s 320-301

320. Watts, John – “Angel of Gardenia” (Thirteen Stories High)

Charming ballad about an angel scented with gardenia who so overpowers a builder on neighbouring site that he falls from the scaffolding. Through the power of the angel he emerges from his ordeal completely unscathed.

319. Cochran, Eddie – “Summertime Blues” (The Eddie Cochran Memorial Album)

We’ve all been there – the summer is here and we have no money to enjoy it. Cochran has plenty of ideas about what to do but, conveying the frustration of teenagers since the dawn of time, no adult wants to listen to his complaints.

318. Fairport Convention – “Matty Groves” (Liege and Lief)

Great ballad about how little Matty Groves was seduced by the wife of Lord Donald who found out and then killed the pair of them, bidding that they then share a common grave with his wife on top in recognition of her noble birth. They don’t write songs like this any more

317. Grieg, Edvard – “Morning Mood” (Peer Gynt Suite)

This wonderful piece is often associated with the gentle, warm sunrise across a pleasant European landscape. In the original “Peer Gynt” the sun actually rose over an unconscious Peer lying in the harsh Moroccan desert

316. The Beatles – “Ticket to Ride” (Help!)

I know I am going to get canned for this, but frankly this is the best Beatles track in my view. A jerky melody and a proper tale to tell, this was the epitome of the early Beatles work and remains an all time classic.

315. Springsteen, Bruce – “The Rising” (The Rising)

Maybe I’ll get canned for this as well, but this song I regard as Springsteen’s best. What makes it for me is the fact that it has that wonderfully inviting chorus and an infectious hookline which combine to make this utterly memorable.

314. Fischer-Z – “Luton to Lisbon” (Red Skies over Paradise)

Fischer-Z’s bleak description of the homogenisation of British high streets into pedestrianised wildernesses offering no consumer choice –

“Chain store towns in faraway places
Mark the end of a capital boom.”

313. Beethoven, Ludwig van – “Symphony No. 6, Fourth Movement” (Symphony No. 6)

One of the finest moments in Beethoven’s musical career, this movement vividly portrays the outbreak of a storm, from the first few drops of rain through the downpour, with thunder and lightning and then the clearing of the skies, with a few distant peals of thunder as the storm passes.

312. Franklin, Aretha – “I Say a Little Prayer for You” (Aretha Now)

This Burt Bacharach-Hal David composition was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick, but Aretha Franklin made this grittier version which proved to be her biggest hit in the UK, even though it was originally intended to be a B-Side.

311. Cocker, Jarvis – “Running the World” (Jarvis)

Jarvis Cocker informs us all that, whatever we think may have changed, nothing really has and “c***s are still running the world.” Full of invective and vitriol at the way ordinary people are exploited and manipulated by the self-appointed elite.

310. Blancmange – “Living on the Ceiling” (Happy Families)

A great synth pop number from this little known band. It has a very strange history, perhaps due to the Arabic-sounding theme of the instrumental section for it was the signature music to the Arab-language news programme on Israel’s Channel 1 TV for over ten years.

309. The Peruvian Hipsters – “Tony Hadley” (7” Single)

The Peruvian Hipsters were a Welsh jangle pop band who teetered on the edge of greatness for some time but never quite made it through. This glorious song is named after the lead singer of Spandau Ballet.

308. Department S – “Is Vic There?” (Sub-Stance)

We never find out who Vic is or why the protagonist wants to find him, but the concept of this was awesomely unique in the early eighties. Department S recorded “Sub-Stance” in 1981 but it was not actually released until nearly 30 years later due to record company idiocy.

307. The Kinks – “You Really Got Me” (Kinks)

Featuring one of the earliest examples of what eventually became known as power chords, this was the Kinks’ breakthrough track in the US. It is a highly influential number which presaged a lot of rock and metal chord structures, once the Marshall amp had been popularised.

306. Lindisfarne – “Lady Eleanor” (Nicely out of Tune)

The lyrics to this song from the popular British folk-rock band were loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” It features the typical Lindisfarne line-up with close male harmonies and a mandolin.

305. Bragg, Billy – “Levi Stubbs Tears” (Talking with the Taxman about Poetry)

“With the money from her accident she bought herself a mobile home
So at least she could get some enjoyment out of being alone.”

So opens Billy Bragg’s mournful tale of a woman who is ill-treated and abandoned by her husband and takes refuge in the songs of the Four Tops. A truly sad and pitiful description of loss and loneliness.

304. The Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star” (The Age of Plastic)

This song has the distinction of being the first song and video ever screened on MTV. And with good reason. It is a prophetic announcement of how pop stars of the future would have to look good as well as sound good. It is a wonderful piece of early synth pop nonetheless.

303. The Adverts – “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” (Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts)

How many of you remember who Gary Gilmore was? Probably not many. Yet he was the man who, during the mid-seventies, petitioned the American Supreme Court to allow a sentence of execution to be carried out on himself, thus restarting a practice which has been abandoned by all nations who regard themselves civilised and putting America in the same bracket as such human rights luminaries as Saudi Arabia, Iran and North Korea. The Adverts tell the story of the man who received Gilmore’s eyes in a transplant and was condemned to see the world through those eyes.

302. The Sound – “Sense of Purpose” (From the Lion’s Mouth)

This is another great post-punk track from the Sound. At the time of its release it received widespread critical acclaim but never received much commercial success. Frontman Adrian Borland’s suicide in 1999 was a great loss for music.

301. Black Sabbath – “Children of the Grave” (Masters of Reality)

Black Sabbath took their rhythms from the factories and foundries of the Midlands where they grew up and, in some cases, worked. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the fast-paced, grinding rhythm of this fine early metal track.

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