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Charles Martel’s Top 1000: Part 36

posted June 25, 2014, 12:30 am by CharlesMartel | Filed Under Recommendations from the Writer's Mind, Video | comment Leave a Comment

A lot of the tracks contained in this list were only ever released as singles. The single still has a significance and an importance which made many tracks issued as singles works of art in their own right. That there were undoubtedly singles bands, and even singles labels (such as Motown) is beyond question. Most classic singles were three minutes long or less, and provided the artist with a framework in which to encapsulate all that needed to be said about their music and the song. Although a single is often associated with transient, throwaway pop, some of those songs have managed to have lasting appeal. There are also a number of tracks which were released as singles which were a surprise in their own right, tracks the record companies thought were too long or would not sell in that format. But the record companies were proven wrong for it is well established that the average record company A&R man knows next to nothing about what would sell if it did not fit into a preconceived idea of what would make money, which was all they were ever interested in anyway.

On the home stretch now as we pass into the 200’s.

Charles Martel’s 300-281

300. Redding, Otis – “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” (The Dock of the Bay)

Otis Redding sings a masterful piece about loneliness as he muses on the home he left behind to come to the city to find work and the bleak prospects he encountered once he got there. A genuine soul classic.

299. Simon & Garfunkel – “Bridge over Troubled Water” (Bridge over Troubled Water)

The duo’s most famous number and one of the biggest-selling songs of all time, it was a Paul Simon compilation which was sung, reluctantly, it is alleged, by Art Garfunkel. Simon’s later regret over this, and similar episodes, created tensions which eventually broke the duo apart.

298. Red Noise – “Furniture Music” (Sound on Sound)

When Bill Nelson left Be-Bop Deluxe he formed Red Noise (often called Bill Nelson’s Red Noise). This great new-wave synth pop crossover track was one of those one-offs which it is always a gem to come across

297. Whipping Boy – “We Don’t Need Nobody Else” (Heartworm)

A drawling, sometimes oppressive number which builds up during the verses to an immense refrain. It deals with the intensity of a relationship which, during the spoken part, spills over into frustrated domestic violence.

296. The Small Faces – “Itchycoo Park” (7” Single)

Ronnie Lane wrote this drawing inspiration from a visit to Oxford. The BBC banned it originally for its apparent drug references and only lifted the ban when the band persuaded them that it referred to a small green area – Little Ilford Park in East London – where the band had played as kids.

295. Hooker, John Lee – “Boogie Chillun” (10” Single)

With a distinctive riff which has been called “the riff that launched a thousand songs”, this highly-influential blues number was the first release by John Lee Hooker under his own name. Hooker credited the inspiration for it to his stepfather.

294. Puckett, Gary & the Union Gap – “Young Girl” (Young Girl)

A man lives up to his responsibilities on discovering that the girl he loves is an underage child. Not, as many commentators would have you believe, a song glorifying paedophilia. In the late-seventies, this was voted by BBC Radio 1 listeners as the greatest single of all time.

293. The Stranglers – “Peaches” (Rattus Norvegicus)

A stark organ sound and Burnel’s characteristically harsh bass underpin this song about, well to be frank, it is about lying on a beach in the summer and looking at the peaches (tits) of the topless girls sunbathing.

292. Brown, James – “I Got You (I Feel Good)” (I Got You (I Feel Good))

Probably James Brown’s most well-loved song, it is a simple number based around a twelve-bar blues format and a raucous horn section dominated by Maceo Parker’s alto sax. The theme is how good love makes you feel.

291. Carnes, Kim – “Bette Davies Eyes” (Mistaken Identity)

Originally recorded by Jackie DeShannon it only became a hit when redone by Kim Carnes, whose husky voice added another dimension. Carnes version contains the line “make a pro blush” apparently unfamiliar with the local mid-west colloquialism DeShannon knew as “make a crow blush”

290. Mazzy Star – “Fade into You” (So Tonight that I Might See)

Hope Sandoval seems barely able to get out the words of this lyric, but the whole song is a highlight of any collection of dream pop numbers. It is wistful and ethereal in its delivery and is ideal chillout music.

289. Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Hong Kong Garden” (The Scream)

An oriental sounding guitar hook and a powerful rhythm are the distinctive hallmarks of this, the first single released by Siouxsie and the Banshees. The song moves across stereotypical views of the Chinese until it reaches the most stereotypical of all – the Chinese takeaway.

288. The Who – “Substitute” (Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy)

One of the great early mod songs of the Who, the original version contained the line “I look all white but my Dad was black” which was deleted when released in the US market because it was felt such an overt reference to interracial marriage would not go down well there. For shame!!!!

287. The Sex Pistols – “Pretty Vacant” (Never Mind the Bollocks)

The Sex Pistols set off with a distinctive opening guitar sequence before blasting into the song proper. Johnny Rotten still sneers the lyric. The BBC bent over backwards to give this airtime having banned its predecessor, “God Save the Queen”, and rigged the singles charts to stop it from showing as Number One.

286. The Rolling Stones – “Satisfaction” (Out of Our Heads)

Probably the Rolling Stones best known number, it was another song which, initially, walked into a BBC ban because of sexually suggestive lyrics. Although sexual frustration forms part of the theme, the real theme is dissatisfaction with material culture. The song is often regarded as the greatest rock song ever and has been covered by countless bands.

285. Holiday, Billie – “Strange Fruit” (10” Single)

Billie Holiday was one brave woman to sing this in jazz clubs and issue it as a record in 1939. For those who don’t know, the strange fruit of the title are the corpses of black men who have been lynched

284. Waters, Muddy – “Rolling Stone” (10” Single)

When McKinley Morganfield was brought to Chicago he adapted the style of music he had learned watching Robert Johnson and others to the new-fangled electric guitars, thereby completing the link between the acoustic delta blues and the urban R&B inspired white groups of the late fifties and early sixties. “Rolling Stone” was the first such song to be released and is pure delta blues played on an electric guitar – nothing else.

283. The Damned – “New Rose” (Damned Damned Damned)

The first ever punk single begins with Dave Vanian uttering those immortal words – “Is she really going out with him?” before the song blasts into two and a half minutes of raucous three-chord thrashing.

282. Brand New – “Sowing Season” (The Devil and God Are Raging inside of Me)

Brand New take on a tricky subject in the influence of religion on young people. This is the first of a number of great tracks on this album which highlight the conflicting pressures brought about by the pervasive and destructive influence evangelical religious belief has on so many American kids.

281. McTell, Ralph – “Streets of London” (Spiral Staircase)

Ralph McTell perfectly describes the pitiable side of London and how, even in a city of seven million people, there can be lonely and forgotten souls. This is one of those songs which always makes me feel sad, despite its obvious quality.


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