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Charles Martel’s Top 1000: Part 49

posted September 24, 2014, 12:30 am by CharlesMartel | Filed Under Recommendations from the Writer's Mind, Video | comment Leave a Comment

The concept album. The very phrase sends shudders down my spine. True concept albums, as opposed to albums on a theme or rock operas, are not as common as you may believe. For instance, “Reconstruction Site” by the Weakerthans is a great album with a theme whereas “Tommy” or “SF Sorrow” are rock operas. But true concept albums almost always start negatively with me. “2112” and “Hemispheres” are concepts on one side (of the vinyl) and are about the only ones I can truly tolerate. “The Wall” I dislike, but my real intense loathing and hatred is reserved for the overblown, pompous, contrived, pretentious, affected bullshit which is “Tales from Topographic Oceans.” Anyone who claims to have been inspired, as Jon Anderson does, to embark on a four-track, double-vinyl melodrama as a result of reading a lengthy footnote at the bottom of page 83 of some Hindu Yogi’s autobiography deserves all the ridicule he is likely to attract. I could go on but when Anderson wanted to record it in a wood at night he was, not surprisingly, told to “get a life”.

Enough of this…let’s get on with the next ten.

Charles Martel’s 70-61

70. The Beach Boys – “God Only Knows” (Pet Sounds)

Incredible love song from the Beach Boys who protest that things would go on as normal in the event of loss when it is palpably clear that they would do no such thing. A truly great song.

69. The Human League – “Seconds” (Dare!)

Probably the best B-Side ever released, this fantastic number has the assassination of JFK as its subject. Far superior to the A-Side, “Don’t You Want Me”, this is a masterpiece of synth pop from the early eighties.

68. Ultravox – “Quiet Men” (Systems of Romance)

Ultravox were the pioneers of synth pop and do not get enough recognition for that fact. “Quiet Men” was the standout number from their “Systems of Romance” album which used a combination of synthesisers and ‘traditional’ instruments to create an evocative sound.

67. The Clash – “Complete Control” (7” Single)

The Clash take on the music business (which they were already heavily involved in) of record company greed and artist naivety. This is a vitriolic song which sees Mick Jones at the height of his powers on guitar.

66. Cream – “Badge” (Goodbye)

The combination of piano and Clapton’s guitar work are what makes this number stand out. Perhaps it would have rated even higher were it not for the unusual ending where the song seems to stop in mid-air.

65. R.E.M. – “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” (Document)

R.E.M. runs through a whole series of images in this musical collage, a tongue in cheek look at the Seventies through the characters who populated it.

64. Big Country – “Chance (Extended Mix)” (12” Single)

Another magnificent remix of an album track, this time from “The Crossing”. The song describes the girl who dreams of a bright future only to abandoned, along with her children, by her lover. As is so often the case with Big Country, it is the guitar work which makes this number stand out.

63. Watts, John – “Involuntary Movement” (One More Twist)

John Watts’ gentle song about a young woman who deports herself as if she is the center of everyone’s attention. It comprises a truly great lyric – one of Watts’ best – containing the classic lines:

“Don’t be cool
They’re not filming you.”

Ignore the video saying this was by Fischer-Z – it was not.

62. Fischer-Z – “Battalions of Strangers” (Red Skies over Paradise)

Drawn from Fischer-Z’s masterpiece album, this song describes the end of nuclear war and the uphill road to peace. The vocals convey the anxiety and dread of the occasion and there is some fantastic guitar work as the song plays out.

61. The Smiths – “Panic” (7” Single)

The Smiths lambaste the shallow vacuity of radio DJs who continue to play music which bears no relation to the hardship and struggles of life in the real world. A dig at both society and the music business, the song features a small choir of children singing “Hang the DJ”. Precisely!


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