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Charles Martel’s Top 1000: Part 38

posted July 9, 2014, 12:30 am by CharlesMartel | Filed Under Recommendations from the Writer's Mind, Video | comment Leave a Comment


You may have noticed as we go through the list that there are a number of covers included. There are tracks by the Byrds, the Feelies, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Jimi Hendrix and others which are covers. Some of these are more well-known than the original. But there are also a number of tracks which feature twice in this list (or perhaps will feature twice in this list – I don’t want to give anything away). But there is only one song which features three times in this list – the original and two covers. Any ideas? Answers on a postcard.

And in this twenty we will pass through the three-quarter mark.

Charles Martel’s 260-241

260. Led Zeppelin – “Rock and Roll” (Led Zeppelin IV)

Led Zeppelin go back earlier than their blues rock roots with this familiar fast paced number in a twelve-bar format. John Paul Jones adds a classic piano line but the whole song is driven along by some incredible John Bonham drumming.

259. Rafferty, Gerry – “Baker Street” (City to City)

Nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes, this song is always remembered for that soaring saxophone line. Rafferty wrote it in a friend’s flat in Baker Street when he was travelling between Glasgow and London for lawyers’ meetings over his contract with Steelers Wheel from which he was trying to extricate himself.

258. Cole, Lloyd & the Commotions – “Rattlesnakes” (Rattlesnakes)

Jody is one of the great characters who inhabits Lloyd Cole’s world. Her carefree approach to life despite the pains it has inflicted on her are described in this song which also namechecks writer Simone de Beauvoir and actress Eve Marie-Saint.

257. Pop, Iggy – “Isolation” (Blah Blah Blah)

Iggy Pop got universally slammed for this album, something which I have always thought was unfair. Although “Real Wild Child” from it was his biggest hit, the real highlight is this track which features soaring vocals and a great sax sound.

256. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Two Tribes (Carnage Mix)” (12” Single)

Released with a video which showed two actors, facsimiles of Reagan and Gorbachov, mud wrestling, the single walked straight into a ban. This version is the best and most sinister and emphasises the nuclear war aspect of the song. The voice over was by actor Patrick Allen, the official voice of the Government’s “Protect and Survive” information broadcasts designed to inform the public what to do in the event of a nuclear attack – all except the obvious thing to do; die horribly and pointlessly.

255. Theatre of Tragedy – “Venus” (Aegis)

This kind of metal may not be to everyone’s taste, but there is no doubt that Liv Kristine’s helium vocal is what makes this track stand out. From an album featuring songs on a theme of strong women, this is Theatre of Tragedy’s finest moment.

254. The Clash – “London Calling” (London Calling)

The Clash’s apocalyptic song about the decline of London is a great stomping track. A few years back some guy playing this on his phone in an airport departure lounge was arrested by the police as a suspected terrorist because of the lyrics. Ever since then I have made a point of playing it on my iPod in similar locations daring some numpty to do likewise.

253. Scriabin, Aleksandr – “Le Poeme de l’Extase” (Opus 54)

To describe Aleksandr Scriabin as being two rats short of a research lab is something of an understatement. He was decidedly bizarre and believed that the World would end when his magnum opus was played on top of Mount Everest. This piece, written in a five tone scale, is apparently part of that magnum opus Scriabin never completed. He died having contracted blood poisoning after cutting himself while shaving.

252. Birkin, Jane & Gainsboro, Serge – “Je t’Aime” (Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsboro)

The sound of a couple making love – even if it was in French – was never going to get airplay on the BBC in the sixties. For years this remained one of the greatest of all songs the BBC banned at the time. Mind you, I am not sure if “je viens entre ses reins” (I am coming between your kidneys) sounds in the least bit romantic – maybe there’s something lost in the translation.

251. The Dandy Warhols – “Bohemian Like You” (Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia)

Despite being used as the theme music to a French car advertisement, the Dandy Warhols’ best song survives the ignominy. The album was patchy, but this has a typical Dandy Warhols slow start before it gets going.

250. Bingen, Hildegard von – “O Ecclesia” (A Feather on the Breath of God)

Wonderful polyphonic chant featuring the voice of Emma Kirkby backed by the Gothic Voices ensemble, this is one of the masterworks of one of the greatest musical minds of the medieval period, the German abbess Hildegard von Bingen. Immensely soothing and comforting music.

249. The Jam – “Going Underground” (7” Single)

This was the Jam’s breakthrough hit in the UK. Despite efforts to play the connections down later, the Jam were inspired by the Mods of the sixties and this short, snappy number demonstrates the point. Paul Weller reacted angrily to claims when this was released that he was a mod revivalist pointing out he was only 18.

248. The Normal – “TVOD” (12” Single)

Daniel Miller is better known as a producer and founder of Mute records, but he had earlier been the Normal and released this single way back in 1977 which, took the sterile sound of Kraftwerk and dressed it up as pop. It was to be inspirational to a whole generation of synth pop bands to come.

247. The Weakerthans – “Pamphleteer” (Left and Leaving)

The Weakerthans slow down the pace a bit with this song all about the awkwardness of a love affair on the brink of collapse. Probably the best track off their “Left and Leaving” album and always criminally overlooked.

246. Dylan, Bob – “Hurricane” (Desire)

Bob Dylan launches into the massive injustice done to middleweight boxer Rubin Carter who was framed for a murder he did not commit by a group of racist police officers, a crooked judge, intimidated witnesses and a rigged all-white jury. He was then reconvicted on a second trial in 1976 despite there being no forensics, tainted evidence and eyewitnesses who could not identify him as the guilty party. And as the case of Trayvon Martin shows, little has changed for blacks in the US justice system.

245. The Milltown Brothers – “Killing All the Good Men, Jimmy” (Valve)

Proceeds from this song went to Amnesty International’s campaign against extra-judicial killings, the song naturally deals with that subject. A mournful solo violin leads into a belting opening sequence and a memorable riff.

244. Bauhaus – “Ziggy Stardust” (7” Single)

Bauhaus take Bowie’s original, rack up the guitars while Peter Murphy camps it up in terms of vocal delivery with impressive results. If you find the original a bit timid or restrained then you will probably prefer this.

243. The Zombies – “She’s Not There” (Begin Here)

Rod Argent built the lyrics for this song around a John Lee Hooker number and wrote it in such a way, he says, to optimise the range of Zombies’ frontman Colin Blunstone. Many people will perhaps be more familiar with the Santana cover.

242. Deep Purple – “Child in Time” (In Rock)

One of Deep Purple’s most well-known tracks, this features two verses bookending an extended guitar and organ jam session but is most notable for Ian Gillan’s vocal rising through each iteration to an ear-piercing scream.

241. The Cinematics – “A Strange Education” (A Strange Education)

Unashamedly post punk revival, the Cinematics are a far better outfit than their more successful commercially-oriented contemporaries. This song even pays tribute to the Chameleons’ “Monkeyland” by containing the line taken from that song – “It’s just a trick of the light”.

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