Jump to content
🌙 COLDPLAY ANNOUNCE MOON MUSIC OUT OCTOBER 4TH 🎵

Top 10 Songs of Every Year Since 1960


para-para-parrotdies

Recommended Posts

1973:

 

 

 

10. Bob Dylan – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

 

 

"Knockin' on Heaven's Door" is a song written and sung by Bob Dylan for the soundtrack of the 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. It reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The song describes the collapse of a deputy sheriff, dying from a bullet wound; he tells his wife "Mama take this badge offa' me; I cain't use it anymore." The song consists of four chords in the key of G major: G, D, Am7, and C. The basic pattern throughout the song is G-D-Am7-Am7 and then G-D-C-C, and this is repeated. Over the years, Dylan has changed the lyrics, as have others who have performed this song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jPg2M1UYgU]Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. New York Dolls – Trash

 

"Trash" is rarely the song people first think of when the New York Dolls come to mind -- that would be "Personality Crisis" or "Lookin' for a Kiss" -- but it's the hidden treasure of that first Dolls album. More than any other song on the album, it picks up its musical elements from the refuse heap of rock & roll: a Bo Diddley rhythm here, some Beach Boys harmonies in the background there, and a direct lift from Mickey & Sylvia's "Love Is Strange" right before the final chorus. David Johansen's superbly snotty vocals are terrific, as is the way guitarist Syl Sylvain delivers the title in a weird, high-pitched whine several times per chorus. The lyrics, basically two lines repeated with minor variations for three minutes, are negligible, but the whole thing has such a glammy/punky/trashy infectiousness to it that it's probably the definitive New York Dolls song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qkja45bS-zc]Trash - New York Dolls - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. John Cale – Paris 1919

 

The distinctive driving piano is a wondrous backdrop for the lyrics combining the best of Cale's own eccentricity and former partner Lou Reed's introspection. This composition could have taken the Velvet Underground into great and uncharted territory if given the chance, with lines like "She'd open up the door and vaguely carry us away" combining perfectly with the "You're a ghost" chorus. Where Lou Reed sings about "all you Jim Jims" in "Heroin," Cale goes one better with "William William William" Rogers "put it in its place." How many artists can sing "Beaujolais" and "Champs Élysées" with quick "efficiency"? A charmingly melodramatic and indirect melodic episode from the underground giant.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5YHqWqhFkU]John Cale - Paris 1919 - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. The Who – Love, Reign O’er Me

 

One thing that the Who's two most notable large-scale narratives had in common was the fact Pete Townshend may know how to tell an engrossing story, but he seems to be at a loss to finish it. After three-plus sides of putting his deaf, dumb, and blind boy through all manner of tortures, Townshend couldn't come up with a better way to wrap up Tommy than a sudden mysterious burst of spiritual understanding, and in Quadrophenia, after Jimmy the Mod has been let down by every significant relationship in his life, and his every effort to find a place to belong has been ripped from him, about all he can do is tell us he wants and needs to be loved. In short, Townshend is no whiz as a librettist, but there's no denying he knows how to write one hell of a finale; like "We're Not Gonna Take It," "Love Reign O'er Me" doesn't do much to wrap up a complex story, but as a piece of music it's passionate, anthemic, and raises the roof. Beginning with ominous piano chords which blend with the sound of rain pouring down on our protagonist, the song segues into a synthesizer pattern whose rising and lowering effect seems to mirror that of the crashing waves surrounding Jimmy. Roger Daltrey sings, first with measured calm and then with growing passion, "Only love can make it rain/The way the beach is kissed by the sea/Only love can make it rain/Like the sweat of lovers, laying in the fields." Soon, Pete Townshend's guitar comes into the picture, Keith Moon's drumming builds in its intensity, and by the time Daltrey has hit the chorus and begun wailing "love, reign o'er me" with neo-operatic bio, it hardly matters that this doesn't really wrap up the story; this is '70s rock at it's most majestic, and Townshend's declaration of the necessity of love is so sincere, and presented with such artful elegance, that only a hard-headed slug could fail to be moved by it. And while Roger Daltrey would become increasingly problematic as a vocalist as the '70s wore on, Quadrophenia captured him at the very peak of his powers, and "Love Reign O'er Me" is one moment where his golden-haired rock-god persona truly works and gives this song all the force it truly deserves.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDbAtWpoA6k]The Who - Love reign over me - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Lou Reed – Caroline Says II

 

The lyrics discuss a young woman, Caroline, who is constantly beat and drugged up. She eventually “puts her fist through the windowpane,” achieving happiness (Reed). In the context of the year the song was released, it spoke to people that had nothing to cling onto. It spoke to the Carolines of the world who just wanted to give up. Attitude defines a person as a whole and destroys the boundaries set by the norms of society.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TOlgGUcWaE]Lou Reed - Caroline Says II (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. Iggy & The Stooges – Search and Destroy

 

Daringly using Vietnam War terminology ripped from the era's headlines, like "heart full of napalm" and "love in the middle of a firefight," Iggy Pop urgently appeals for love as the "world's forgotten boy/The one who searches only to destroy." These seeming tossed-off, cocky lyrics and the raw energy of the Stooges on their 1973 landmark Raw Power LP obfuscate the narrator's true desperation in "Search and Destroy": "Honey gotta strike me blind/Somebody's gotta save my soul." Pop sounds like a man who has nothing to lose; he doesn't just leave relationships wrecked on his shoals, he seems to fear some real evil within himself that disallows any real human contact. With "Search and Destroy," the Stooges lay down an archetype for punk rock: James Williamson blistering through a bastardized and pumped-up Keith Richards guitar riff; Ron Asheton, having been relegated from guitar to bass, pounds the instrument with ferocity, while his brother, Scott Asheton, pummels the drum set like Keith Moon -- all fills and cymbals. The band has the urgency of musicians playing as if it would be the last song they ever got to perform. The song teeters on the edge of nihilistic self-destruction, lurching at a breakneck pace. One can hear the influence of the song in a myriad of bands that followed: the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, Motörhead, the Dead Boys (who covered it), and Nirvana. Widely regarded as a production disaster, Pop and the record's producer, David Bowie, blame Raw Power's poor mix on the ultra-low recording budget. But the visceral effect of the overly prominent guitars and distorted vocals struggling to be heard create a hard edge on "Search and Destroy" that has been emulated in punk and post-punk recordings. The song breaks many of the recording rules that were starting to bleed life from big-budget projects during the '70s, when a cult of recording technology was emerging. Also released that year were the chart-topping Elton John song "Crocodile Rock" and the richly produced Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon. Raw Power reminds one of the early Beatles, Stones, and Kinks records, when energy oozed out of the primitive recordings.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDNzQ3CXspU]The Stooges - Search And Destroy - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Can – Bel Air

 

The best song proceeds "Moonshake" in the form of "Bel Air", a 20 minute sprawl of exhilarating bliss. The first quarter of the track features quivers of gentle pulsating, eventually transforming into a jamfest of epic proportions. With several minutes of compulsive noodling, the track soon reverts back to the gentle pulsating heard before, except more intense. The track finishes itself off with some luscious Tago Mago style playing that closes the record off. The epic "Bel Air" featured Can at their most impressionistic, if not always focused. Czukay once described his band as an "electric symphony group", and the heavily edited and structured "Bel Air" betrays a dedication to long-form statements and an almost painterly sense of blended colors and landscapes.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThV4wwYSvHY]Can - Bel Air - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. Pink Floyd – Time

 

Expressively stating that too much time is wasted throughout our lives trying to strive for material gain while evidently falling prey to the redundancy of routine, "Time," which was written by all four members, carries the greatest conceptual impact out of all the songs on Dark Side of the Moon. The conglomeration of clocks that strike and chime at the beginning of the song were recorded one by one by Alan Parsons from a clock shop, and then were combined to create the overlapping effect. Just after the chiming of the clocks, the dominant pounding of Nick Mason's roto-toms erupts crisply and heavily, leading into Gilmour's opening stanza. Throughout the song, Mason's drumming is faster and at the forefront of the rest of the instruments. This gives "Time" its unique and unorthodox pace while at the same time isolates Mason and his prowess as a drummer. The mood of "Time" is broody and dark, and the lyrics express the dismalness and anxiety that begins to surface when such a theme is dealt with. This solidified lyrical element is what makes "Time" such an influential song. The lyrics are unmitigated and obvious without metaphor or any drifting imagery. The accompanying instruments maintain the song's concept with their rhythm and tone, and the ideas of the band (especially Waters) are understood effortlessly. Gilmour sings one stanza vigorously and the next one softly, capturing the song's two separate moods of angered frustration and relentless despair. Placed wisely between "Breathe in the Air" and "Breathe Reprise," "Time" is Dark Side of the Moon's emblematic anthem that best represents the album's overlying theories.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWTLUmUjo8A]Time by Pink Floyd (Flash Animation) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Stevie Wonder – Living for the City

 

Stevie Wonder joined his Motown labelmates the Temptations in making "cinematic" hits that reflected the popularity of the blaxploitation craze of the '70s (Shaft, Superfly, The Mack). The veteran vocal group made their mark in the trend with the aptly titled Norman Whitfield-produced cut "Masterpiece," which topped the R&B charts and went to number seven pop. Wonder's contribution, "Living for the City," took the cinematic concept further. Along with his frequent creative partners, the engineering/synth programming duo of Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff, Wonder crafted a tantalizing track that is enthralling, vividly drawn, and deeply poignant. Cecil's film business experience played a big part in the "wide screen" feel of "Living for the City," which tells a story in a way that few songs do. Margouleff's father was the mayor of Great Neck, NY, while some of the song's "scenes" were shot (actually recorded by a portable Nagra tape recorder). Though Wonder plays all of the instruments, "Living for the City" wasn't a one man show. The singer recruited his brother Calvin, road manager Ira Tucker Jr., a New York police officer, and attorney Jonathan Vigoda. Cecil and Margouleff acted in a role as semi-directors who were trained in "the method." They purposely did things to tick Wonder off (stopping the tape in the middle of recording, making insulting comments about the track). Wonder's angry raspy vocals during the latter of the song was the result, as was the song's huge chart success. Written and produced by Wonder, "Living for the City" held the R&B top spot for two weeks and made it to number eight pop in late 1973

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc0XEw4m-3w]Stevie Wonder - Living for the City - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On

 

According to co-producer/co-writer Ed Townsend, Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" started out as an anti-drug song. The idea for the song came from Townsend's experiences at an alcohol rehab center. The title originally referred to the axiom "let's get on with life." Issued in July 1973, the record caused a controversy because of its overtly sexual theme. The session for the classic song listed Crusaders members Joe Sample and Wilton Felder as well as David T. Walker, Eddie "Bongo" Brown, and Gaye on piano. While working on the lead vocals, Townsend had Gaye improvise lyrics over the chorus. The spontaneity comes through like a quickie. "Let's Get It On" laid at number one R&B for six weeks while going to number one pop in the summer of 1973.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6QZn9xiuOE]Marvin Gaye - Lets get it on - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Faust – Jennifer

 

The gorgeous psych-ballad "Jennifer" provides a suitably jarring transition from the previous song, and is further proof that the band (Sosna in this case) were capable of writing actual "songs," with melodies and chords that in some other, non-acid-baked circumstance, might already have been attached to a Volkswagen ad by now. The pulsating bass drone, backed by eerily distant organ and guitar arpeggios, provides the perfect, glowing backdrop for lines like "Jennifer, your red hair is burning," but this song is a good example of how dissecting individual Faustian innards often yields much less than the whole-- it's the sum shine that matters.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grvr4nK4AZA]Jennifer - Faust - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The Isley Brothers – That Lady, Pts. 1 & 2

 

"That Lady" is a 1973 R&B and soul hit song for The Isley Brothers, released on their T-Neck imprint. The song, one of the group's most well known, was originally performed by the group nearly a decade before in 1964 (released as "Who's That Lady?") inspired by The Impressions. After signing with Epic Records in 1973, the eldest members of the group (O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley) had included younger members, guitarist Ernie Isley, bassist Marvin Isley and keyboardist/pianist Chris Jasper, as official members. In a response to this transformation, the group gave themselves the moniker of 3 + 3, describing the three original vocalists in the group and three recruited instrumentalists, inspiring the aptly titled album that came out that year. The group entered the studio to remake "Who's That Lady?" after being inspired by rock acts such as Carlos Santana (who himself covered it on his 1990 album Spirits Dancing in the Flesh) bringing in a Latin percussive rock feel to it including congas and an organ solo by assorted other musicians while the other Isleys played various instrumentation. The two youngest Isley brothers and in-law Jasper re-wrote the instrumental while the older brothers revamped their harmonies, with Ronald showcasing a much smoother vocal than the original version. Brother Ernie Isley's Jimi Hendrix/Santana-inspired guitar solo was one of the major highlights of the song and one of the key elements of what defined the 3 + 3 era of the Isleys.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAfYXc5O3Xo]The Isley Brothers - That Lady - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Roberta Flack – Killing Me Softly with His Song

 

In September 1972, Flack was opening for Marvin Gaye at the Greek Theater; after performing her prepared encore song, Flack was advised by Gaye to sing an additional song. Flack - "I said well, I got this song I’ve been working on called 'Killing Me Softly...' and he said 'Do it, baby.' And I did it and the audience went crazy, and he walked over to me and put his arm around me and said, 'Baby, don’t ever do that song again live until you record it.'" Released in January 1973, Flack's version spent a total of five non-consecutive weeks at number-one in February and March 1973, being bumped to number 2 by the O'Jays' "Love Train" after four straight weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1eOsMc2Fgg]Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly ( 1973 ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Roxy Music – Do the Strand

 

 

Over the years, a lot of performers have exhorted their followers to do certain dances, from Little Eva's "Locomotion" to the Bay City Rollers' "The Bump." Opening their sophomore album in early 1973, Roxy Music issued a similar order. Only instead of telling the listener how to dance the dance, Bryan Ferry simply reeled off a role call of all the famous people who already danced it, the insinuation being if you're cool enough to do the Strand, then you don't need a pop group to give you the instructions. Aggressive, exclusive, and absolutely compulsive, "Do the Strand" -- "a danceable solution to teenage revolution" -- rides on an ever-building backdrop of instrumental chaos. Honking sax and plodding piano open the number but, by two minutes in, the entire band is competing for space in the mix and still Ferry's vocals rise above it all: "They're playing our tune/by the pale moon...and we like the strand."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykMdLEXQ4fQ]Roxy Music Do The Strand (Lyrics) (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Wings – Live and Let Die

 

"Live and Let Die" is the main theme song of the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die, written by Paul and Linda McCartney and performed by Paul's band Wings. It was one of their most successful singles, and the most successful Bond theme to that point, charting at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number nine on the UK Singles Chart. Originally, producer Harry Saltzman was interested in having Shirley Bassey or Thelma Houston perform it instead of Wings. Martin said that McCartney would only allow the song to be used in the movie if Wings were able to perform the song in the opening credits. Saltzman, who had previously rejected the chance to produce A Hard Day's Night, decided not to make the same mistake twice and agreed. A second version of the song, performed by B. J. Arnau, also appears in the film. Arnau's performance was originally meant for the group Fifth Dimension. The Arnau version of the song appears on the soundtrack album as a component in a medley that also contains two George Martin-composed instrumental pieces, "Fillet of Soul – New Orleans" and "Fillet of Soul – Harlem".

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaziVB_SJCU]Live And Let Die Paul Mcartney & Wings (+ lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1974:

 

 

 

10. John Lennon - #9 Dream

 

 

"#9 Dream" is a song written by John Lennon and first issued on his 1974 album Walls and Bridges. Lennon liked the string arrangement he wrote for Harry Nilsson's rendition of "Many Rivers to Cross" from the album Pussy Cats so much that he decided to incorporate it into the song. The backing vocal is provided by May Pang, Lennon's partner at the time. According to Pang's website, two working titles for the song were "So Long Ago" and "Walls & Bridges". Pang also states that the phrase repeated in the chorus, "Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé", came to Lennon in a dream and has no specific meaning. Lennon wrote and arranged the song around his dream, hence the title and atmospheric, dreamlike feel, including the use of cellos in the chorus.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDP4ABxZnDI]John Lennon- #9 Dream - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – The Bottle

 

"The Bottle" is a song by American soul artist Gil Scott-Heron and musician Brian Jackson, released in 1974 on Strata-East Records in the United States. It was later reissued during the mid-1980s on Champagne Records in the United Kingdom. "The Bottle" was written by Scott-Heron and produced by audio engineer Jose Williams, Jackson, and Scott-Heron. The song serves is a social commentary on alcohol abuse, and it features a Caribbean beat and notable flute solo by Jackson, with Scott-Heron playing keyboards. The song was issued as the first and only single for Scott-Heron's and Jackson's album Winter in America (1974). It became an underground and cult hit upon its release, and the single peaked at number 15 on the R&B Singles Chart. Cited by music critics as the album's best recording, the commercial success of "The Bottle" helped lead to Jackson's and Scott-Heron's next recording contract with Arista Records. Similar to other compositions by Scott-Heron, the song has been sampled extensively by hip hop artists.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FJFP9WrO38]Gil Scott Heron The Bottle 1974) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. Roxy Music – All I Want is You

 

From the band which had already all but redefined the concept of dynamics in '70s rock, "All I Want Is You," Roxy Music's fourth British single, reads like a savage updating of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" -- as performed by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. A litany of all the credentials which make a man a true gentleman -- etiquette, enunciation, and devil-may-care insouciance -- is swept aside by a supremely swaggering Ferry, because all he wants is you. Indeed. Behind him, meanwhile, the band has rarely sounded so triumphant, every instrument soaring to new heights of celebration. No matter that Ferry's most straightforwardly lovey lyric is a million miles away from the word-weaver of former glories -- "All I Want Is You" heralded the Country Life album with irrepressible panache.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nce2mFiPMr0]Roxy Music All I Want Is You (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run

 

This applies to the entirety of the Band on the Run album as well, but its leadoff title track sounds like an "Oh, yeah? Watch THIS!" from Paul McCartney to the critics who had been slagging him off since the days of the Beatles' dissolution. Far from the lightweight and sloppy work he was regularly accused of -- a characterization that, to be fair, was quite often entirely justified -- "Band on the Run" is classic McCartney, a song that manages to be experimental in form yet so deliciously melodic that its structural oddities largely go unnoticed. One of McCartney's most effective experiments in medley form (see also "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," "Back Seat of My Car," and side two of Abbey Road, not to mention "A Day in the Life"), "Band on the Run" features a full two minutes' worth of intro before the song proper starts. First comes a setting for slide guitar and synthesizer that sounds a bit like an outtake from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, over which McCartney mournfully bemoans his lot, in character as a lonely prisoner. This quickly switches over to a funky interlude with a much harsher, snickering vocal delivery that culminates in the bitterly tossed-off line "If we ever get out of here." (McCartney later revealed that this line was cribbed from a remark George Harrison had made during an Apple board meeting in the Beatles' acrimonious final days, furthering the widely held reading of the song as a metaphor for McCartney's creative rebirth outside of his former band.) This section is suddenly cut short by a triumphant guitar fanfare backed by a full-on orchestral climax that -- at last -- leads into the body of the song proper. (Capitol serviced radio stations with a promotional AM edit of the song that simply fades in at about 2:02 of the original song and runs through to the end; most stations chose to play the full five-minute version, wisely.) At that point, the song becomes an effortless mélange of acoustic rhythm guitars, country-ish slide fills, and three-part harmonies on the chorus, a distinctlyMcCartney-esque take on the kind of slick California rock the Eagles were perfecting around the same time, but without their po-faced humorlessness. In fact, if anything, this soaring song is one of the most good-humored tunes in the Wings catalog, the sound of a man who knows he's creating something that only his most reflexively hostile critics could deny.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7D65IomNYY]Paul McCartney- Band on the Run - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. David Bowie – Rebel Rebel

 

One of David Bowie's most playful numbers, the guitar-riffing "Rebel Rebel" was contrarily lifted from one of his darkest albums, 1974's Diamond Dogs. The song was originally composed for Bowie's projected Ziggy Stardust musical in late 1973, although it can also be seen as a farewell of sorts to the entire glam movement which Bowie (and Ziggy) created -- a fitting warning, indeed, of the career convolutions he was about to embark upon.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTe0Ow5-i2o]Rebel Rebel + Lyrics - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. Dolly Parton – I Will Always Love You

 

It's unfortunate that "I Will Always Love You" will forever be tied in the public mind to Whitney Houston's repulsively overwrought cover from the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, at one time the largest-selling single in history. Houston's version is so boomingly bombastic and glutinous with self-approbation that the tenderness of Dolly Parton's song is lost in the mire. In contrast, Parton's 1974 original is one of her simplest '70s productions, with the traditional countrypolitan orchestrations held to the barest minimum and her lovely, expressive vocal front and center over a simple piano and electric guitar setting. The lyrics, long held to be a farewell to her former partner Porter Wagoner, with whom she had recently split, have a heartbroken dignity to them that suits Parton's persona and performance beautifully. Alongside "Jolene" and "Coat of Many Colors," it's one of Parton's early masterpieces.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuZO1iT4kD0]DOLLY PARTON - I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Brian Eno – Baby’s on Fire

 

Although best known for his groundbreaking work as the pioneering figure in ambient music, Brian Eno bridged the chasm between that later style and his early work as a member of the art/glam band Roxy Music by recording a series of experimental pop albums during the mid-'70s. His 1974 solo debut, Here Come the Warm Jets, contained what became one of his best-known pop compositions, "Baby's on Fire." A twisted yet tuneful bit of dark-humored weirdness, "Baby's on Fire" benefited from Eno's free-associative approach to lyric writing, which both built on and branched out from the basic scenario of a woman catching on fire. It isn't really set up as a metaphor, but Eno plays it for surrealist comedy. His nasal, slightly snotty vocals project an air of casual detachment, and none of the characters in the song seem to show all that much concern either. In fact, most are busy taking pictures, while Eno calls her an "object" in the non-sexual sense of the term, compares her to a "heifer to the slaughter," and says of the dehumanization that "this kind of experience is necessary for her learning." Yet with all the photographic attention and wisecracks, like "They said you were hot stuff/And that's what baby's been reduced to," it's also tempting -- and possible -- to read the lyrics as a surrealist indictment of the media's exploitation of its human subjects. Structurally, the song is extremely simple, repeating the same melody line over and over, never once deviating from its scant two chords. It's not an easy task to keep that listenable over five-plus minutes, yet Eno is up to the challenge, not only with his bizarre humor but also by emphasizing the purely sonic qualities that flesh out the arrangement. The song begins with a tense high-hat and pulsating bass, as well as several different kinds of electronic squiggles. Following the first section of lyrics are three minutes of noisy guitar work by Paul Rudolph and King Crimson's Robert Fripp, which is sometimes melodic and sometimes mostly textural. Accompanied by shifting drum accents in the background, the soloing continues through the return of Eno's vocals without correlation to the beat. Eno even calls attention to them on the last line of the song: "But baby's on fire, and all the instruments agree that/The temperature's rising, and any idiot would know that." It's a suitable ending to a defiantly bizarre pop song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMt1Oy5uQ0w]brian eno baby's on fire - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. Richard & Linda Thompson – I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

 

In 1974, Richard Thompson and the former Linda Peters released their first album together, and I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight was nothing short of a masterpiece, the starkly beautiful refinement of the promise of Thompson's solo debut, Henry the Human Fly. In Linda Thompson, Richard found a superb collaborator and a world-class vocalist;Linda possessed a voice as clear and rich as Sandy Denny's, but with a strength that could easily support Richard's often weighty material, and she proved capable of tackling anything presented to her, from the delicately mournful "Has He Got a Friend for Me" to the gleeful cynicism of "The Little Beggar Girl." While I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight may be the darkest music of Richard & Linda Thompson's career, in this chronicle of pain and longing they were able to forge music of striking and unmistakable beauty; if the lyrics often ponder the high stakes of our fate in this life, the music offered a glimpse of the joys that make the struggle worthwhile.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57PENuNVapc]Richard and Linda Thompson - I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Neil Young – Ambulance Blues

 

The epic folk song "Ambulance Blues" is a favorite among folk-rockers and musicians wishing to pay tribute to singer/songwriter Young. Ironically, Young was paying tribute to his favorite guitarist, Scottish folk troubadour Bert Jansch, from whom he borrowed the guitar figure and melody (from Jansch's "Needle of Death"). Delivered on acoustic guitar with a little fiddle, spare bass, drums, and signature harmonica, the song is taken from the kinda blue album On the Beach (1974). "Ambulance Blues" is one of Young's rare songs that can't be so easily interpreted, with its references all over the map, drawing from some of his pet themes: his past in Toronto, the rape of the land and its native people, lying politicians, and depression, or in this case, coming through a depression. It has that loose and rambling vibe in which Young specializes, yet it's wound tightly in all of its sprawling, nine-minute glory. The reference to the ambulance in the title, "An ambulance can only go so fast, it's easy to get buried in the past," might refer to Young's career (of which he sings, "back in the old folky days").

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LTiKJlB62g]Neil Young - Ambulance Blues - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. Big Star – September Gurls

 

The quintessential power pop classic, Big Star's seminal 1974 effort "September Gurls" wears its inspirations on its sleeve: the ramshackle crunch of the melody evokes mid-period Beatles, Alex Chilton's chiming guitar break recalls the Byrds, and the snarling abandon of the performance conjures the Who. All of which is the point, really; power pop is, almost by definition, the sum of its parts, but it's how those influences are reconfigured which separates the wheat from the chaff. What's exciting about "September Gurls" (and much of the Big Star catalog, for that matter) is its brilliant transformation of its composite elements into a rough-edged but sweetly gorgeous sound that's both familiar and novel; poignantly ragged and breathlessly reckless, the song seems held together by sheer force of will, lumbering forward even as it verges on complete collapse. And although lyrics like "I loved you, well never mind" bitterly encapsulate the inextricable combination of affection and apathy which virtually defines Chilton's career, the song also reveals a surprising tenderness, tempering its venom with achingly lovely vocals and sun-kissed harmonies. While most who have heard "September Gurls" rightly consider it a pop classic, the problem is that relatively few people are actually familiar with the song; thanks largely to distribution problems, Big Star's records went virtually unnoticed during their own lifetime, and even later the band's music was almost exclusively the province of a fiercely devoted cult following.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXEPgjOdZt4]Big Star-September Gurls - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Gene Clark – No Other

 

The plaintive country-folk sounds of White Light and Roadmaster were replaced by intricate vocal harmonies and heavily overdubbed, atypical arrangements in Kaye's "answer to Brian Wilson and Phil Spector as a producer". However, there was a pronounced R&B/funk feel to the title track, which has often been attributed to the presence of Sly Stone at some of the sessions. According to John Einarson's Mr. Tambourine Man, all of the assembled musicians were impressed by Clark's perfectionism and genial, humble attitude.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GilrLIwBJE8]Gene Clark - No Other - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Gram Parsons – Love Hurts

 

"Love Hurts" is a song, written and composed by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. First recorded by The Everly Brothers in July 1960, the song is also well known from a 1975 international hit version by the hard rock band Nazareth and in the UK by a top 5 hit in 1975 by Jim Capaldi. The song was introduced in December 1960 as an album track on A Date with The Everly Brothers, but was never released as a single (A-side or B-side) by the Everlys. The first hit version of the song was by Roy Orbison, who earned Australian radio play, hitting the Top Five of that country's singles charts in 1961. A recording by Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons was included on Parsons' posthumously released Grievous Angel album. As a vocal duo, Parsons and Emmylou Harris only improved on this set, turning in a version of "Love Hurts" so quietly impassioned and delicately beautiful that it's enough to make you forget Roy Orbison ever recorded it.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ivVJzGgcq0]Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris-"Love Hurts" from "Grievous Angel" - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Kraftwerk – Autobahn

 

"Autobahn" completely rewrote the rock rulebook. There was simply nothing to relate it to. Nothing except - it really did sound like a roadtrip. Trucks race by, horns honk, there's the windshield wipers and splash through a puddle. If you really thought about it, it was almost frighteningly mundane. But it was also exquisitely exciting, a fact which two continents' worth of record buyers were fast to pick up on.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-G28iyPtz0]Kraftwerk Autobahn full - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Neil Young – Walk On

 

 

Written by Neil Young in reaction to the bad press he received during the depressing (but artistically superb) days of Tonight's the Night. The leadoff track from the excellent On the Beach album, "Walk On" has some positively exquisite rockabilly riffs, and over this buoyant atmosphere, Neil Young tells the critics to go screw themselves. Brilliant.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9LOM1C_pqM]Neil Young - Walk On (with lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Patti Smith – Hey Joe

 

"Hey Joe" is an American popular song from the 1960s that has become a rock standard and as such has been performed in many musical styles by hundreds of different artists since it was first written. "Hey Joe" tells the story of a man who is on the run and planning to head to Mexico after shooting his wife. Patti Smith released a cover of the song as the A-side of her first single, "Hey Joe" b/w "Piss Factory", in 1974. The arrangement of Smith's version is based on a recording by blues guitarist Roy Buchanan that was released the previous year (and dedicated to Hendrix). Smith's version is unique in that she includes a brief and salacious monologue about fugitive heiress Patty Hearst and her kidnapping and participation with the Symbionese Liberation Army. Smith's version portrays Patty Hearst as Joe with a "gun in her hand".

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH9KozepiFU]Patti smiths hey joe - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1975:

 

 

 

10. Fleetwood Mac – Rhiannon

 

 

This is one of the first songs to prove the chart durability of the influential group. Perhaps just as important, "Rhiannon" also introduced Stevie Nicks as a great songwriter and a challenging sex symbol. With Nicks, the vocals and the lyrics are so often intertwined is hard to decide which entity is the most affective. For "Rhiannon" both are equally as compelling. The song simply tells the story of a capricious woman, free, in demand and breezing in and out of whoever's life she chooses. Hmm, sounds familiar. With her deft imagery and sensual and haunting vocals, Nicks does indeed seem to enjoy the song's protagonist's freedom and her affect on everyone. Like all great lyricists, Nicks picked a name that worked phonetically and on an emotional level. Her band mates of course helped out, most notably Lindsay Buckingham's guitar and Christine McVie's backing vocals. Although the original words are definitive, Nicks has often sung different lyrics in concert. No matter whether a word is changed here or there &"Rhiannon" is notable for its sheer emotional power, resonance and the resemblance the story has on the woman who wrote it.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDkKyBU7GCs]Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. David Bowie – Golden Years

 

Released as the follow-up single to the mega-hit "Fame," the funky "Golden Years" provided a peculiar introduction into David Bowie's next album, 1976's Station to Station -- peculiar, in that it had absolutely nothing in common with the rest of that set. Rather, it was drawn from precisely the same "plastic soul" cloth as the Young Americans set and, while Bowie's ex-wife Angie has claimed it was written about her, it is intriguing to learn that Bowie originally wrote the song for Elvis Presley.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRD0ghlFSgk]David Bowie - Golden Years - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. Television – Little Johnny Jewel

 

Television made their vinyl debut with "Little Johnny Jewel", a 7-inch single on the independent label Ork Records in 1975. Ork Records was owned by their manager, Terry Ork. The song was split into two parts, one on each side of the single. Richard Lloyd apparently disagreed with the selection of this song, preferring the never-released "O Mi Amore" for their debut, to the extent that he seriously considered leaving the band. Reportedly Pere Ubu guitarist Peter Laughner auditioned for his spot during this time.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5rgxeImu1Y]Little Johnny Jewel - Television - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. Bob Marley & The Wailers – No Woman, No Cry

 

"No Woman, No Cry" is Bob Marley's touching reminiscence of growing up in the middle of deep poverty in the Kingston ghetto known as Trenchtown. Though he wrote it himself, Marley credited the song to V. Ford (aka Tartar), a man who operated a kitchen that kept numerous children (including Marley himself) from starving to death. In the song, Marley sits with his friends, observing the hypocrisy of the rich amidst the generosity of the poor. He ends the song attempting to cheer up his friends with the words, "Ev'rything's gonna be alright."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x59kS2AOrGM]Bob Marley No Woman no cry - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Led Zeppelin – Kashmir

 

The centerpiece to Led Zeppelin's ambitious -- and at times masterful -- 1975 double record, Physical Graffiti, "Kashmir" opens with an explosive cymbal crash, launching into a Middle Eastern-tinged chord progression which alternates with a horn-driven epic second part, and then a sparse, funk rock third section. The main body has the drums playing the standard 2/4 time signature, while the rising musical theme creates tension by playing against it in 3/4 time. The instrumentation blends orchestral brass and strings with electric guitar and mellotron strings. Like much Zeppelin lyrical matter, "Kashmir" teeters on the silly, if not the pretentious. But Plant pulls it off, exploring the mystical; the descriptions are as if from an ether dream: "Oh let the sun beat down upon my face/And stars fill my dreams/I'm a traveler of both time and space/To be where I have been/To sit with elders of the gentle race/This world has seldom seen/They talk of days for which they sit and wait/And all will be revealed." By way of dreaming, meditation, or medication, the singer is searching for the same answers the elders are patiently waiting to have "revealed." In addition to his blues background, Plant shows a Pakistani influence in his singing, like the prayers/chants of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the devotional singer made popular on soundtracks and through collaborations with pop singers in the mid- to late '90s. Plant has called the song "the definitive Led Zeppelin song." Its sprawling eight-minute-30-second form is almost cinematic in scope.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfR_HWMzgyc]Kashmir - Led Zeppelin - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. Pere Ubu – 30 Seconds Over Tokyo

 

Before the Ramones recorded their debut album, before the Sex Pistols were a glimmer in Malcolm McLaren's eye, and before fellow Ohioans Devo helped usher in the age of synth pop and MTV, Pere Ubu had already formed their own label and released the seminal art punk single "30 Seconds Over Tokyo." Appearing in the fall of 1975, "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" was clearly the work of a garage band, yet its arty dissonance and weird experimentalism were startlingly unique for that setting; it would take American underground rock years to catch up. "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" relies more on atmosphere than melody for its impact, but its lurching guitar riffs and cacophonous noise are a perfect match for singer David Thomas' apocalyptic visions. His lyrics take a pilot's-eye view of the atomic bomb attack on Japan, couching it in offbeat, vividly nightmarish imagery ("dark flak spiders bursting in the sky"; "sprouting clumps of mushrooms like a world surreal"). The song truly does create a surreal world, not only in the lyrics -- which make repeated references to being stuck in a dream, outside of time -- but in the sonic environment. The opening guitar riff throws the listener off immediately -- it's obviously played in a steady rhythm, but when the band chimes in at first, it's with free-form ambient noise. Eventually, it becomes clear that the chords in the riff are sounding between the downbeats, not on them. It's joined by a descending, counterpoint line whose heavy chromaticism becomes a complement to the seasick feeling of Thomas' flat, quavering vocals. There are a couple of instrumental breaks during which the off-the-beat rhythm of that opening riff becomes the only anchor; the rest of the band seemingly comes close to dissolving into chaos around it. The sense of foreboding explodes into a full-on freakout in the middle of the song -- the rhythm stops and fades into a dissonant, noisy free-for-all, while the bass plugs away in a deranged country/polka beat. The original song structure eventually finds its way back out of the murk, and after one last verse, a new, almost Black Sabbathy chromatic riff crawls up. Singing through a distorted microphone, Thomas mumbles the title over and over as though it's the mantra of a shell-shocked vet with a tenuous grip on sanity. Effect-laden guitars, EML analog synth noises, and bursts of feedback color in the space behind him, and the song almost stumbles to its close, as though there was no definite stopping point. Ultimately, it's yet another freely structured moment in a song that helped pioneer the use of those tactics in underground rock.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs3kKHhG4m0]Pere Ubu - 30 Seconds Over Tokyo - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

 

Without a doubt the most heartfelt, honest, and impassioned song from Pink Floyd, "Wish You Were Here" starts off with a beautiful opening guitar piece from David Gilmour that perfectly invokes tranquility and warmth. Arriving as soon as the radio has finished switching stations, the guitar begins in what sounds like a monaural passage and then sweeps in with colorful glory, taking the speakers by storm. Riveting and haunting at the same time, the folk-induced guitar playing is only half of "Wish You Were Here"'s magic. Waters' abstract lyrics filled with symbolism and surreal images are actually references to the loss of Syd Barrett as a musician and a friend, as well as Waters' inner battle with stardom and his socialist viewpoints. Gilmour's singing is wispy and effectively coarse to carry over the subtlety and openness of the lyrics. The faint background vocals from Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams set a somber mood, along with the saxophone playing from Dick Parry. Although extremely difficult to decipher, violinist Stephane Grappelli plays a small piece amongst the swirling winds at the end of the song. Whether the song is an outright ode to Barrett or a tug of war between Waters' humanitarian principles, "Wish You Were Here" continues to be one of Floyd's most penetrating songs.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=217JOBWTolg]Pink Floyd - Wish you were here - Remastered [1080p] - with lyrics - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

 

"Bohemian Rhapsody" is a song by the British rock band Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury for the band's 1975 album A Night at the Opera. The song has no chorus, instead consisting of several sections: a ballad segment ending with a guitar solo, an operatic passage, and a hard rock section. At the time, it was the most expensive single ever made and it remains one of the most elaborate recordings in popular music history. The entire piece took three weeks to record, and in some sections featured 180 separate overdubs. Since the studios of the time only offered 24-track analogue tape, it was necessary for the three to overdub themselves many times and "bounce" these down to successive sub-mixes. In the end, eighth-generation tapes were used. The various sections of tape containing the desired submixes had to be spliced (cut with razor blades and assembled in the correct sequence using adhesive tape).

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ]Queen - 'Bohemian Rhapsody' - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Bob Dylan – Tangled Up in Blue

 

It might be possible (and somebody may have done it already) to write a doctoral thesis on Bob Dylan's use of pronouns. If such a study were attempted, a great deal of space could be taken up with a discussion of "Tangled Up in Blue," a song Dylan wrote in 1974 that became the leadoff track of one of his greatest albums, Blood on the Tracks. The grand subject of Blood on the Tracks was the ups and downs of mature romantic relationships, and "Tangled Up in Blue" served as a masterful introduction, a seven-verse narrative about a couple or about a romantic triangle, or perhaps about several different couples. The ambiguity is increased by the different versions of the song that exist. Dylan first recorded it on September 12, 1974, and then re-recorded it four days later, initially opting to release the first version, which was put on the test pressing of Blood on the Tracks in November. (The second version was released on The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 [Rare & Unreleased] 1961-1991 in 1991.) In these versions, the song is mainly in the third person. The first three verses describe a "he" and "she" and their romantic comings and goings. In the fourth verse, the narrator enters the story, becoming involved with the woman. But by the sixth verse, "he" has returned, though the narrator remains present, and despite material success, the relationship once again falls apart. At the end, the narrator, "still on the road," is determined to get back to the woman, having left everyone else behind. In late December 1974, while staying in Minnesota for Christmas, Dylan hired local musicians and re-recorded half the songs for Blood on the Tracks, among them "Tangled Up in Blue." In this third version, which was played with more instrumentation and in more of a pop style, the lyrics have been revised. Now, the "he" of the first three verses has been replaced by "I" and there are some other minor lyrical changes. The most altered verse is the sixth, though it retains some of the ambiguity of the three-way relationship. Without having previously mentioned a third character, the narrator begins the verse, "I lived with them on Montague Street," suggesting that he has joined an existing relationship. Again, it crumbles, and the song ends as in the first version. Blood on the Tracks was released in January 1975, becoming a chart-topping album, and "Tangled Up in Blue" was a Top 40 single.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwSZvHqf9qM]Bob Dylan - Tangled Up In Blue - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

 

With "Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen achieved the perfect balance between working-class reality and rock & roll mythology. A blue-collar fairy tale evoking Phil Spector in its romanticized grandeur and Bob Dylan in its street-corner poetic grit, critic Greil Marcus once described it as "a '57 Chevy running on melted-down Crystals records," a superb metaphor which mirrors not only the song's sonic ambitions, but its thematic aims as well. "Born to Run" is teen melodrama in excelsis, overblown and histrionic in ways Spector never imagined; it smacks of the kind of palpable, life-or-death desperation which threads its way through everything from Romeo and Juliet to Rebel Without a Cause, where every action, every thought, and every word bears the complete weight of the world. When Springsteen sings "I wanna die with you, Wendy, on the street tonight in an everlasting kiss," the moment trembles with apocalyptic fervor. Set against the backdrop of the Jersey shore, "Born to Run" paints a remarkably vivid portrait of life on the margins -- its characters prowl their territory like caged tigers, dead-end kids cruising up and down the strip searching in vain for their escape route out. "The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive/Everybody's out on the run tonight but there's no place left to hide" -- hopes and dreams become virtually indistinguishable from resignation and acceptance as the images pile on top of each other. Still, for all its melancholy and poignance, "Born to Run" is first and foremost a celebration of the rock & roll spirit, capturing the music's youthful abandon, delirious passion, and extraordinary promise with cinematic exhilaration. It's the record which made Springsteen a superstar, and its raw vitality and epic scope remain unmatched.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3t9SfrfDZM]Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s the Way of the World

 

"That's the Way of the World" is a 1975 song by the R&B band Earth, Wind & Fire and is also the title track of their album That's the Way of the World. Written by Maurice White, Charles Stepney and Verdine White for Columbia Records, "That's the Way of the World" was released as a single in many countries and reached number 12 and number 5 on the US Pop and Black Singles charts. The song has been sampled by Frost on the song "Heaven & Hell" included on his album When Hell.A. Freezes Over, on the Do Ya Thing (Remix) by Cam'ron and on the West Coast remix of "Where Are They Now?" by Nas.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vIIZydXDqg]Earth, Wind and Fire - "That's The Way of The World" - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Kraftwerk - Radioaktivität

 

"Radioactivity" (original German language title: "Radioaktivität") is a song written by Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider and Emil Schult, and recorded by electronic band Kraftwerk as the title track of its 1975 album Radio-Activity. The original recording features an insistent Minimoog bass line (playing eighth notes), with chords played on the distinctive "choir" disc of the Vako Orchestron. Morse code signals spelling out "R-A-D-I-O-A-C-T-I-V-I-T-Y" are also present, near the beginning of the track and again near the end. The second time it is followed by "I-S I-N T-H-E A-I-R F-O-R Y-O-U A-N-D M-E".

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhBG1ilB3ao]Kraftwerk - Radioactivity - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

NEU! – Isi

 

“Isi” was a 1975 single by the German band Neu!, released in the United Kingdom to promote their album Neu! '75. The recording of Neu! '75, the last of Neu!'s original studio albums, was begun in December 1974 at Conny Plank's studio in Cologne. Like Neu! 2 the album has a definite binary nature, with the first side recorded by the original duo of Dinger and Rother, the second by the expanded four-part Neu!-La Düsseldorf supergroup. "Isi" is taken from the albums A or 'Michael Rother' side, whilst "After Eight" is from the Klaus Dinger-La Düsseldorf dominated side of the album. Dinger recognised this duality, admitting that "me and Michael drift[ed] apart," but Rother maintains that "it was the combination of our two strengths which made the magic." Either way, Dinger's apparent contribution to "Rother's" side of the single is limited to the drums on Isi, whilst Rother's contribution to the "La Düsseldorf" side is the guitar solo, on After Eight. Neu! '75 was also the first album for which Dinger wrote lyrics, and the subject matter was largely his now ended romance with Anita.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VswPaZIuYI]NEU! 75 - ISI (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Patti Smith – Gloria

 

 

Bearing probably the most famous opening line of the entire American punk scene -- "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine" being every bit as corrosive a start as "I am an Antichrist/I am an anarchist" -- Patti Smith's complete re-imagining of the '60s garage classic "Gloria" both sums up her entire persona and sets a standard that was so hard for the next generation of punks to live up to that most of them didn't even try. More poetic than Jim Morrison, and far less prone to idiotic drunken rambling as well, Smith was the first mainstream rock and roll poet to deserve both sides of the appellation: the song's first section, Smith's own "In Excelsis Deo," features some haunting imagery, but it's also so rhythmically interesting that the shifts into and out of Van Morrison's cocksure strut "Gloria" are utterly seamless. Further, Smith performs the oldie with more intensity, humor and openly sexual hunger than anyone since Morrison himself back in the days of Them, helped immensely by her stellar band, almost certainly the best group of musicians (Television was their only real competition) to unite under the rubric of punk.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxygqSTO1lQ]Patti Smith Gloria - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Roxy Music - Love Is the Drug

 

A number two U.K. hit and Roxy Music's long-awaited U.S. breakthrough -- it reached number 30 in early 1976 -- "Love Is the Drug" followed in the footsteps of David Bowie's "Fame" by utterly Americanizing what had hitherto been a stubbornly British phenomenon. The difference was whereas Bowie needed to completely dismantle his own sound and attitude, Roxy simply strengthened theirs, creating a dramatic art funk fusion from ingredients that had been littering their arsenal for years. Pulsating on an unselfconsciously visceral bass line, "Love Is the Drug" is, nevertheless, as far from the R&B basics of true funk as it is possible to stray without descending into a dance-free zone. Rather, it predicts the Teutonic rhythms which Bowie, again, would himself be employing on his own next album, Station to Station, and which would fuel much of the post-punk electro-funk of the late '70s. Indeed, peel away the radio-pleasing buoyancy which is the song's immediate calling card and "Love Is the Drug" is as grimly unrelenting as any past Roxy attack -- as taut as it is tight, as sordid as it is sensual. Simple Minds, Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., and the Human League can all trace at least a soupçon of their future funkiness to "Love Is the Drug," as can Roxy themselves.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtCVLtcfLi4]Roxy Music Love Is The Drug (Lyrics in Description) (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1976:

 

 

 

10. Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper

 

 

The best song Donald "Buck" Roeser ever wrote and the best record Blue Öyster Cult ever cut, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is an extraordinary, menacing hard rock variation on the Byrds' jangling pop. Blue Öyster Cult usually rocked a lot harder than this -- even their jokes tended to be delivered a little less than subtly -- but they never sounded as threatening as they do here, even if it was performed with their tongue slightly in cheek. Some could argue that the song's real strength was as a record, and it is true that the handful of cover versions that have followed don't capture the creeping doom of the original, but the song never sounds bad, even in the hand of bar bands. That's because the lyrics are carefully observed and the minor-key melody is elegantly insinuating. Other bands have tried to capture the feeling of impending doom, even death, but no song has done it as effectively as "(Don't Fear) The Reaper."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClQcUyhoxTg]Blue Oyster Cult - (Don't Fear) The Reaper 1976 [studio Version]cowbell link in description - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop

 

As the first song on their self-titled 1976 debut, "Blitzkrieg Bop" introduced the Ramones to the record-buying public at large, and quickly became a punk rock anthem; around 15 years later, it had also became a sports-arena anthem thanks to its "hey, ho, let's go" chant. The title "Blitzkrieg Bop" was actually a nice encapsulation of the group's aesthetic: simple, bouncy, pre-British Invasion rock & roll played at top volume and twice the speed. Blaring the same three chords for most of its duration, the song was rock at its most basic, and most rock artists who choose to keep their music this basic do so in order to invest it with tremendous energy. That's exactly what happens here, and the updated '50s-dance-party lyrics are even about that youthful rock & roll energy -- "the kids are losing their minds" over it, "all revved up and ready to go." "Blitzkrieg Bop" is undeniably silly, and even more undeniably exciting. Of course, it's intentionally silly -- not in an ironic or satirical way, but more like smart people honestly enjoying mindless fun. That's the essence of the Ramones' appeal, and "Blitzkrieg Bop" is its statement of purpose.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWrtrK1Q2EQ]The Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop (Music Video) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. Fela Kuti – Zombie

 

Zombie was the most popular and impacting record that Fela Anikulopo Kuti and Africa 70 would record -- it ignited the nation to follow Fela's lead and antagonize the military zombies that had the population by the throat. Fela is direct and humorous in his attack as he barks out commands to the soldiers like: "Attention! Double up! Fall In! Fall out! Fall down! Get ready!" Meanwhile, his choir responds with "Zombie!" in between each statement. Since the groove was so absolutely contagious, it took the nation by storm: People in the street would put on a blank stare and walk with hands affront proclaiming "Zombie!" whenever they would see soldiers.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q76UngzHX5Y]Fela Kuti - Zombie - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the U.K.

 

The Sex Pistols' debut single, "Anarchy in the U.K.," touched off a social and musical firestorm upon its release in 1976. The Pistols were already revolutionary within the British music business, going outside the established avenues for building audiences and media publicity (or, more accurately, notoriety); coupled with their aggressively provocative stance, industry insiders were intensely worried about possible repercussions -- not only from the public, but concerning their own back catalogs, which were decidedly dissimilar from the Pistols' music. And their fears of controversy were justified -- "Anarchy in the U.K." gleefully pushed every button it could surrounding British fears about political instability and youth running wild in the streets. The single was released by EMI toward the end of 1976 and sold over 55,000 copies in Britain before being withdrawn due to the ensuing outcry. The Pistols were subsequently kicked off the label, only three months after signing; they landed on A&M for about a week before settling on Virgin, who included "Anarchy in the U.K." on the Pistols' lone studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks. The song was chiefly composed by Glen Matlock (except, of course, for Johnny Rotten's lyrics) and hammered into final shape by Steve Jones. It relies on simple, descending power-chord riffs for its anthemic impact, kicking off with a run down the A minor scale (which is reused for the chorus) and punctuating its verses with a descending progression based on the fourth, third, and first notes of the C major scale (a common device in simple yet anthemic songs). There really isn't much else to the song instrumentally, aside from an instrumental bridge that features a repeated riff built around a D major chord. Rotten's performance is supremely brash and snotty, playing up the harsh, abrasive qualities of his voice as well as his personality; yet there's also a subtle playfulness to his lyrics, which indicates that even if he is intent on delivering real social commentary, he never takes the song's anarchist pose all that seriously, instead reveling in -- and laughing at -- the resulting provocation. Decades later, some combination of those attitudes still defines punk rock; moreover, the song and the band helped return rebelliousness and do-it-yourself egalitarianism to rock & roll in general.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbmWs6Jf5dc]Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. ABBA – Dancing Queen

 

"Dancing Queen" helped ABBA achieve another massive international hit by bending the group's signature blend of pop hooks and European influences to the popular disco sound of the day. The lyrics concern themselves with a visit to a discotheque but approach the subject from a different tack: instead of focusing exclusively on discotheque mating rituals, the lyrics concern themselves with the joy of dancing itself. Thus, the song has a greater element of emotional content than many disco tunes: the chorus may be filled with then-hip phrases like "dig it" and "you can jive," but its key lyrical hook is "having the time of your life." "Dancing Queen" also benefits from a sophisticated melody that builds from languid yet seductive verses to a dramatic chorus that ascends to heart-tugging high notes as the lyrics reach their emotional peak. The result is a song whose sincerity and sheer musicality have allowed it to outlast the disco boom and become a standard of dance-pop. As a result, "Dancing Queen" has become an enduring standard for dance divas as diverse as Carol Douglas and Kylie Minogue. Even U2 fell under the song's spell when they performed a dazzling, stripped-down version the song during their tours in the mid-'90s. However, ABBA's version remains the definitive take on "Dancing Queen": Andersson's keyboard lines accentuate the classical complexity of the melody and Ulvaeus and Andersson weave countless instrumental hooks (string riffs, stately keyboard runs, and swirling synth lines, to name a few) in and out of the mix that layer the tune without ever weighing it down. The grandiose arrangement is topped off by the powerful vocals of Agnetha Faltskog and Frida Lyngstad's vocals, who negotiate the melody's many turns flawlessly and sing their hearts out on the chorus. The end product became the group's first American chart-topper and remains a favorite at dance clubs today. The enduring popularity of this production proves that Ulvaeus and Andersson were as astute in the producer's chair as they were at penning pop hits.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72oh_6vp5bU]Dancing Queen - ABBA (lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. Pere Ubu – Final Solution

 

It's difficult to believe that "Final Solution," the A-side of Pere Ubu's second self-released single, was recorded in 1975; no one back then was making music that sounded like it, and for that matter, very few bands in Ubu's wake did either. It wasn't so much the sound of the future as it was a distressed, twisted reflection of the band's immediate environment. Sometimes absurdist, sometimes harsh and chilling, "Final Solution" -- like much of Ubu's early music -- was essentially the sound of the bleak industrial wasteland that was Cleveland, OH, in the '70s. It was also the sound of the alienated misfits who lived there -- singer David Thomas' character in the song is ugly, unbalanced, and seeking escape and release in rock & roll. Despite the title, "Final Solution" was never intended to evoke memories of the Holocaust; it was actually Thomas' play on a Sherlock Holmes story called The Final Problem. When some later punk bands employed Nazi imagery for shock value, Ubu dropped the number from their repertoire to avoid any confusion. It's debatable as to whether the lyrics of "Final Solution" even support a reading that dark. On the one hand, its angst sounded so frantic and claustrophobic, and the dissonant noise of the band so furious, that it was easy to hear suicidal implications in the song's title and chorus. Yet belying the frightening soundscape was a definite, playful humor, both in the wordplay and in the specific complaints ("Mom threw me out till I get some pants that fit/She just don't approve of my strange kind of wit"). The singer's character is kind of unbalanced and ugly, and looks for escape and release in rock & roll. It's easy to miss in the pure sound of the song, which is taken at a deliberate tempo and built around blasts of distorted guitar and EML analog synth effects. The grinding bass and guitar riff that open the song aren't really very catchy; they set a creeping, crawling mood for the thickly textured instrumental explosions. The only departure comes with the guitar solos -- the second break, in particular, is an emotional, aching, lovely anomaly in the midst of this harsh sonic environment. Such direct, poignant passages are rare in the Ubu catalog; it may be Peter Laughner's finest recorded moment during his brief tenure with the band, and it's a fitting metaphor for the song's relevance.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VelS-YCtHV4]Pere Ubu - Final Solution - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. David Bowie – Station to Station

 

The longest single song on any David Bowie album, "Station to Station" can also claim to be among the most evocative. It is best regarded, of course, for unveiling his latest alter ego, the Euroman of the Thin White Duke, "throwing darts in lover's eyes." But it would also appear to have some religious significance, as Bowie confirms he is referring not to railroad stations, but Christianity's Stations of the Cross, shot through with several less than subtle references to Aleister Crowley. The "white stains" of the lyric, sometimes construed as a tip of the hat to cocaine (with which Bowie had recently undergone a flirtation), also refers to the self-styled Great Beast's first book. That said, "Station to Station" is also a vital contribution to the then-ongoing mutual appreciation society formed by Bowie and the electronic band Kraftwerk. The song's very structure echoes the Germans' "Autobahn" hit, and Kraftwerk repaid the favor by name-checking Bowie and his traveling companion, Iggy Pop, in its own "Trans-Europe Express."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY77zDzNmYw]Station To Station - David Bowie - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. Boston – More Than a Feeling

 

After inventing the Polaroid Land Camera, guitarist Tom Scholz turned his knack for gadgetry into a second career when his multi-layered basement recordings became Boston's mega-selling debut. Among the top-selling records of all time, its first single, "More Than a Feeling," went Top Five in 1976. What at first sounded like a breath of fresh air on the stale mid-'70s airwaves soon turned stale due to incessant radio play; the song became lodged in the collective consciousness. As was the fashion of the day, "More Than a Feeling" begins as a gentle MOR song but bursts wide open when the sound of pounding drums meets the power chords of the main riff. Not exactly a power ballad, the song does display an extreme shift in dynamics throughout. From its breezy opening and the aforementioned power chords to the crunchy yet sugary chorus and brief bridge which makes way for Scholz's epic, noodle-style soloing, the formula was often repeated in the late '70s by lesser bands.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSR6ZzjDZ94]Boston- More than A Feeling - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way

 

The drama of the colliding relationships of the Fleetwood Mac members was often alluded to in song, but probably never with more candor. The crumbling union of Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham was laid out for all to see here, and Buckingham does all but name the two of them in the song. Built on a simple yet very energetic series of folk-country-inspired chord changes, the melody has an almost Everly Brothers vibe to it, reflecting Buckingham's affinity for pre-Beatles pop. The chorus is absolutely devastating, and explodes from the mix on the record. All of these factors, plus a great performance from the band (especially Buckingham's exquisite guitar solo) helped make the song one of the band's biggest and most timeless hits, ever.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ul-cZyuYq4]Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. The Modern Lovers – Roadrunner

 

"Roadrunner" is a garage band classic, one of those exuberant rock & roll grooves that was a specialty of the Velvet Underground; it mostly jams on one driving chord, with a cheap-sounding organ droning away, before the band pounds on a second chord to emphasize the main refrain, "Radio on!" It is a chant more than a song; an anthemic ode to the highway in the great rock & roll tradition of Chuck Berry. Filled with suburban Massachusetts references, "128 (highway) when it's dark outside," "Gonna drive past the Stop & Shop with the radio on," and "And I'm in love with Massachusetts and the neon when it's cold outside," the lyrics seem to come off the cuff, as if Richman has an outline he wants to cover but improvises the specifics. Much of the lyric of "Roadrunner" is concerned more with the way the words themselves sound than the actual meaning -- also like some of the great Berry compositions. "Roadrunner" fits neatly into the tradition of other "Roadrunner"s -- the Bo Diddley composition of the same name, for example -- and provides a link between the godfathers of punk rock, the Velvet Underground (VU member John Cale produced), and the punk, new wave, and post-punk bands of the '80s and beyond. Richman and his band -- some of whom went on to play major parts in important bands like the Cars and Talking Heads -- pointed the way toward movements such as no wave (Talking Heads, Television), and jangly, intelligent, and sometimes irony-fueled college rock bands like the Neats, the Feelies, and They Bight Be Giants. "Roadrunner" has become a rock & roll standard, covered by hundreds of bands in concert and recorded, most notably, by Joan Jett and the Sex Pistols.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgRYncR1Nog]Roadrunner - The Modern Lovers - best version? you decide - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Blondie – X-Offender

 

Blondie's first single (originally called "Sex Offender" before a skittish Private Stock Records insisted on changing the title), 1976's "X Offender," cleanly summarizes everything that was great about Blondie's early phase as New York punk's premier pop culture obsessives. Debbie Harry's arch lyrics about a criminal's love for the cop who busted her (co-writer Gary Valentine's original lyrics were about how an old girlfriend's disapproving parents had him arrested when he turned 18 and she was still a minor) are funny, odd, and a wicked parody of a certain breed of early-'60s teen melodrama. Musically, the song is faultless, with Jimmy Destri's ultra-cheesy Farfisa organ recalling memories of "Runaway" and "Palisades Park" while Valentine, drummer Clem Burke, and guitarist Chris Stein attack the rhythm with the surefooted verve of a hot instrumental surf group. Just about every element of "X Offender" is deliberately reminiscent of an earlier tune or musical style, but the lifts are done with so much evident love that it's impossible to be miffed by them.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_xbzVtZM9c]Blondie X Offender - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The Damned – New Rose

 

And thus U.K. punk was born, in the simplest but most brilliant of ways, with Brian James' deathless anthem of nuclear-strength romantic angst untroubled by bad vibes. Dave Vanian's timeless intro says it all -- "Is she really going out with him?" -- then Rat Scabies' pounding drums, full-bodied and holding nothing back but swinging with all the skill one could want, lead things along. James' quick, blasting riffs rip into the mix, three sudden notes, a barked "UH!" and the spirit of 1977 was launched on vinyl. As legendary (and deserving of it) as "Anarchy in the UK" and "White Riot," "New Rose" is pure disaffected cool, the lyrics just smart enough -- "I got a feeling inside of me!/A funny feeling like a stormy sea." Vanian's singing carries over and through the chaotic noise of the band -- Scabies' cymbals seemingly even louder than the guitars -- for instant singalong appeal. Captain Sensible's bass completes the picture, the perfect counterpoint for the perfect song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jLYyP3axQo]Damned, The - New Rose (with lyrics) - HD - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Nick Lowe – So It Goes

 

Nick Lowe's debut solo single, after stints with Kippington Lodge and Brinsley Schwartz, was also the first single Stiff Records ever released, and it's hard to imagine a more ideal introduction for both. Clearly part of the pub rock tradition that Brinsley Schwartz pioneered, but with a prominent new element of wicked sarcasm and a modern, stripped-down production, "So It Goes" bears a vague resemblance to both Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years" -- the verses proceed in a similar torrent of run-on sentences and bizarre images -- and the '60s-inspired power pop revivalism of the Flamin' Groovies, as evinced by the twangy, deep-toned Duane Eddy-style guitar solo. The single is enormous fun on its own merits, and as a harbinger for Stiff's early years, when Lowe basically singlehandedly ran the label's artistic output, it's perfect.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMfH-u1rtmc]So It Goes by Nick Lowe (1976) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The Saints – (I’m) Stranded

 

 

Just as rock & roll was a single name given to a variety of musical phenomena happening around the same time (rockabilly, doo wop, rhythm & blues, and other pop forms that embraced aspects of these styles and kids could dance to), what became known as "punk rock" or "new wave" in the mid-'70s encompassed music made by many different musicians whose main uniting factor was an annoyance with what was going on in mainstream rock. While the Ramones were reducing rock & roll back to three-chord juvenile delinquent noise in New York (and let me stress that that's a good thing), and the Sex Pistols were trying to bring down the British government and make money doing it in the U.K., down under in Australia, the Saints were taking the classic sounds of high-attitude '60s rock & roll (such as the Easybeats and the Pretty Things), stripping it to the bone, and cranking it up to 80 mph on their debut single, "(I'm) Stranded." It was a simple exercise in rock classicism, but executed with enough sneering, nervous energy to make it clear the Saints were up to something new. Chris Bailey's snarl was the stuff of a thousand garage bands elevated to true greatness, and Ed Kuepper's guitar was pure power-chord energy, but there was just enough melody in the song (and enough jangle in Kuepper's overdubs) to prove these guys were not mere noise merchants. Part of the beauty of punk's first wave was that as the style was working out its own parameters, anything seemed like suitable grist for the mill, and "(I'm) Stranded" showed a certain amount of pop-smart sophistication wasn't out of place in punk rock -- a direction the band would pursue much further with their second album, Eternally Yours.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0Jkd-m_UMk]The Saints - (I'm) Stranded - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Stevie Wonder – I Wish

 

Motown artist Stevie Wonder was at a summer picnic sponsored by the label when he got a toothache. No matter, he still had a good time. So good in fact that the singer/songwriter/producer went straight to the recording studio afterwards. Reflecting on all the fun, Wonder began coming up with a festive, musical vibe wrapped around a nostalgic, autobiographical theme. On the session for "I Wish" were drummer Raymond Pounds, bassist Nathan Watts, and horn players Trevor Lawrence, Steve Madaio, Hank Redd, and Ray Maldonado, some of whom played on his "Superstition." In the lyrics Wonder cleverly ties together playful, common episodes of childhood (playing "nurse") and the teenage years (spending Sunday school money on candy).

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0eVf3ynZbw]Stevie Wonder - I Wish (with lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1977:

 

 

 

10. Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen

 

 

The Sex Pistols' biggest chart success in Britain and a record that helped change the country's entire musical landscape, "God Save the Queen" nearly reached the number one position even in spite of a daytime airplay ban by BBC Radio (and, by some accounts, figures had to be doctored to prevent it from hitting the top). Released in 1977 during England's celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee (the 25th anniversary of her ascension to the throne), the song -- a simple, mid-tempo rocker performed with blistering energy -- was immediately provocative in its gleefully snotty name-calling (the Queen as a fascist, a common tourist attraction, and an "old figurehead," not to mention the immortal couplet "God save the Queen/She ain't no human being"). But, on a deeper level, Johnny Rotten's lyrics also attacked some of the country's most cherished patriotic notions at a moment when those notions were being trumpeted the loudest; he declared the royalty ineffectual and irrelevant, and Britain a country in decline, clinging desperately to its crumbling imperial past and ignoring the bleak times ahead for its younger generation ("there is no future in England's dreaming"). Positive or negative, public reaction was swift and hysterical; while the song was a smash hit, the Pistols themselves were demonized by the media and the government as a threat to the most basic foundations of English society, and were even attacked and beaten in the streets of London (in the most extreme incident, Rotten was stabbed in the hand). As an act of public provocation, "God Save the Queen" was immensely successful; as a rock & roll anthem, it still sounds equally potent, even if so many groups subsequently tried to duplicate its attitude and controversial impact that the song now sounds very specific to its time and place. Structurally, the main body of the song is quite simple -- two or three power chords per section -- but what drives it home so perfectly is the climactic closing coda, a descending major-key progression that never appears otherwise in the song, over which Rotten snarls the apocalyptic chant "no future, no future, no future for you." But even though Rotten is crucial to the song -- not just in the theatrical rudeness of his vocal, but also the perceptive intelligence behind his lyrics -- he isn't the only reason for its success; guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook are magnificent, assaulting their instruments with a bludgeoning power that surpasses even Rotten's furious vocal.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8fLOJswWtk]The Sex Pistols - God Save The Queen - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. Wire – Mannequin

 

Along with a couple of other tracks from Wire’s brilliant punk debut, Pink Flag, such as ”Feeling Called Love” and perhaps ”Champs”, the band show they are unafraid to venture into more straight-ahead pop territory. While much of the record is taken up with anxious musical vignettes or dark mood experiments, ”Mannequin” sounds downright bubbly by comparison. The song falls in the traditional kiss-off category while also criticizing the shallow nature of artificially enhanced beauty in the process. To a jangling three chord progression and an effusive rhythm section, singer Colin Newman sings with an uncharacteristically melodic, bright eyed affability as he cheerily derides, “You’re a waste of space / No natural grace / You’re so bloody thin / You don’t even begin…” The chorus comes complete with plush “ooh-ooh” backing vocals as he continues to gently berate, “To interest me / Not even curiosity, it’s not animosity / It’s just you don’t, interest me”. After an almost bubble-gum pop breakdown, the boy’s launch into a boozy barroom chant -a round of “la, la, la’s” that (gasp!) carry a slight hint of maudlin sentimentality. Wire continue to surprise the listener with a fearless array of musical approaches throughout Pink Flag’s twenty odd tracks with song’s like ”Mannequin” proving again that this debut is it one of the period’s truly unique albums.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEJSe8vutnM]Wire - Mannequin - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. Dennis Wilson – River Song

 

The opening song on Dennis Wilson's solo album is not only one of the finest songs this underrated artist ever recorded, but it also may be one of the greatest recordings by any of the Beach Boys, collectively or individually, in the 1970s. A direct reflection of Wilson's own organic, freewheeling spirit and the power of nature (specifically water) that he could relate to, it's a deeply powerful, moving statement. All of this is cast in a powerful, neo-classical/pop melody and arrangement. There are a few interesting bridge fragments contained herein, most notably the "rollin, rollin' on river," which Brian Wilson adapted ten years later on his 1988 "Rio Grande."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHCzTLnFpLE]Dennis Wilson - River Song - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. Kraftwerk – Trans-Europa Express

 

Trans-Europe Express" is both the title track to one of Kraftwerk's most popular albums and -- in a way that the creators of the song probably never even imagined -- one of the most unexpectedly influential singles of all time. In the context of Trans-Europe Express, the song is the opening of a four-part, 19-minute suite that mimics the calm, ticking sound of a rail car in motion. Other musical elements, including both a haunting synth theme and the deadpan chanting of the title phrase, are slowly layered over that rhythmic base in much the same way that the earlier "Autobahn" was constructed. This process continues through "Metal on Metal" and "Franz Schubert" before the suite and album close with a brief reiteration of the main theme from side one's "Europe Endless."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMVokT5e0zs]Kraftwerk - Trans Europa Express (original) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Television – Marquee Moon

 

While Television was among the earliest trailblazers in the 1970s new wave explosion, and the first to make a mark at New York's punk Mecca CBGB (they even built the stage that they and thousands of other bands played on), their basic style had little to do with the aggressive 4/4 drive of the Ramones and the Dead Boys; guitarist Tom Verlaine often cited Moby Grape as a crucial influence, and the psychedelic undercurrent in the band's approach was rarely clearer than on the title song from their brilliant 1977 debut album, Marquee Moon. Perhaps reminded of Moby Grape's tightly meshed three-guitar lineup, the framework of "Marquee Moon" is rooted in three interwoven rhythm parts -- a double-timed guitar riff that hits on the first and third beats in the left channel, a trilled guitar pattern in the right channel that rides through the third and fourth beats, and a two-note bass riff that surrounds the first and third. Brought together, the three fused into a single melodic pattern that was spare but hypnotic, and strong enough that guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd could veer off into extended solos without the structure falling apart. While "Marquee Moon" had a lean, muscular sound that set this band apart from, say, the Grateful Dead, there's no mistaking that Verlaine and Lloyd loved a good jam, and the tune's ten-plus-minute length on Marquee Moon gave both of them plenty of room to explore the sonic landscape. The original studio version is one of the great guitar moments in rock history (Verlaine's final solo is nothing short of sublime), and Television's live renditions of the tune (preserved today on a handful of bootlegs and the semi-authorized live document The Blow Up) are, if anything, even more impressive.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlbunmCbTBA]Television - Marquee Moon - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. David Bowie – Sound and Vision

 

"Sound and Vision" is a song and single by David Bowie which appeared on the album Low in 1977. The song is notable for juxtaposing an uplifting guitar and synthesizer-led instrumental track with Bowie’s withdrawn lyrics. In keeping with the minimalist approach of Low, co-producer Visconti and Bowie originally recorded the track as an instrumental, bar the backing vocal (performed by Visconti’s wife, Mary Hopkin). Bowie then recorded his vocal after the rest of the band had left the studio, before trimming verses off the lyric, and leaving a relatively lengthy instrumental intro on the finished song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IJsAuUgSgc]David Bowie Sound and Vision - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Elvis Costello – Alison

 

In 1977, when Elvis Costello first began to make waves as new wave's Angry Young Man (with a knack for pop hooks), "Alison" was the song many writers seemed to seize upon as evidence that Costello was a real songwriter, and not just another mangy punk cut from the same cloth as Johnny Rotten. While Costello certainly wasn't a punk and "Alison" was just the sort of mid-tempo ballad people weren't expecting from rock's new enfant terrible, a quick scan of the lyrics reveals a tale as bitter as "I'm Not Angry" or "Miracle Man." "Alison" is the story of man betrayed by the woman he loves; he finds himself still hopelessly in love with her as he watches her throw away her affection on a man he knows will let her down, unable to convince her that she's making a mistake. The song is a heady and compelling mixture of love, ache, and barely suppressed fury, and if the chorus' declaration that "Alison/My aim is true" makes clear this is a song about love, the bitter undertow of the verses leaves no doubt that there's no happy ending in store for anyone in this story. The keen dramatics and melodic subtlety of the song's first recording on Costello's debut album, My Aim Is True, was a rare early betrayal of his early days as an also-ran on the British pub rock scene, where country-rock was the order of the day.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9GlC9GyF4Y]ELVIS COSTELLO Alison 1977 - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. Iggy Pop – Lust for Life

 

The one song most identified with former Stooge Iggy Pop's solo career, "Lust for Life" is also quite possibly the most upbeat, exuberant tune he ever cut. There's a heavy influence from co-writer David Bowie in the hip-shaking, glammed-up swing of the drumbeat, which dominates the song from start to finish and is doubled at one time or another by all the instruments. Really, it's the only hook the song needs; it's immediately memorable without being all that melodic. Pop bleats his hard lyrics with the ferocity of a survivor who's visited the absolute depths of life without having been consumed, and that's really what the song is about: making your way through everything life can throw at you, screwing up along the way but emerging stronger for it. Pop's persona gives the song a rougher edge than it would have otherwise, a harder-rocking grit that marks it as the product of an equal collaboration, not just Bowie's imagination. While the music definitely feels glammed up and a little bit campy -- not just the swinging rock & roll beat, but touches like the male falsetto voices echoing Pop on the chorus -- it's due to Pop's performance and lyrical contributions that the song never loses its strutting machismo. "Lust for Life" was originally released on the 1977 album of the same title, but remained a somewhat overlooked classic until it was used as the opening-credit theme for the 1996 film Trainspotting, after which it became a staple at college parties and radio stations.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj2KV2ETO3g]Iggy Pop Lust For Life (HQ) (Lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Talking Heads – Psycho Killer

 

David Byrne is a compelling Anthony Perkins-like figure on this deceptively funky new wave/no wave song from 1977. When they released the song on 1977's Talking Heads '77, their debut album, Talking Heads were an up-and-coming downtown New York band, an art rock band who cultivated the same decidedly nerdy look that Jonathan Richman sported fronting his Modern Lovers in the early '70s (Talking Heads included ex-Modern Lovers keyboardist Jerry Harrison in their ranks). Like Richman, a fish out of water in the world of early-'70s rock excess, Talking Heads aimed at being contrarians in the leather- and spike-clad world of CBGB and Max's Kansas City. But with songs such as "Psycho Killer," David Byrne and his crew seemed as threatening as any of their nihilist colleagues, perhaps more so; somehow, Byrne was eerily convincing playing the role of a disturbed outsider. "I can't seem to face up to the facts/I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax/I can't sleep 'cause my bed's on fire/Don't touch me I'm a real live wire." Byrne's narrator intones ominous warnings over an insistent rhythm, and one of the most memorable, driving bass lines in rock & roll from Tina Weymouth. The driving arrangement seems to mirror the forces that are compelling the protagonist. In the second verse, Byrne switches his expressive and elastic vocal dynamics to a mocking tone, shifting from the first person to the second person, as if schizophrenically talking to himself: "You start a conversation you can't even finish it/You're talking a lot but you're not saying anything/If I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed/Say something once, why say it again?" Byrne sings almost the entire lyric of the bridge in French, the final line switching back to English: "We are vague and we are blind/I hate people when they're not polite." He's a loose cannon who seems to get closer to the edge as the song progresses. The band displays early on their funk influence with clean staccato guitar licks, eventually droning into a one-chord crescendo, à la the Velvet Underground.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX6FsTIq6ls]Talking Heads - Psycho Killer - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. David Bowie – Heroes

 

Not even ending up as a Microsoft commercial theme could quench the sheer power and beauty of "Heroes," arguably David Bowie's finest individual song throughout his varied, fascinating career. The story of its inspiration got a bit muddled over time -- it might have been two employees at the recording studio near the Berlin Wall who Bowie saw in an embrace, or simply two random strangers in the shadow of that Cold War symbol. But inspired by that and with the collaborative help of Brian Eno and, with a jaw-dropping set of solos, guitarist Robert Fripp, Bowie, his backing band and producer Tony Visconti created a true classic. Clearly drawing from the various German influences he had absorbed while still relying on the dramatic power of rock and roll, the song becomes an anthem, Fripp's exquisite work at once celebratory and an electric requiem. That feeling of valediction is reflected in Bowie's lyric about individual connection and response in the face of a crushing, anonymous outside world -- but it wouldn't be half so grand without Bowie's simply breathtaking vocal. Starting with an almost conversational tone, by the end of the song he's turning in a performance that could almost be called operatic, yet still achingly, passionately human.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3SjCzA71eM]David Bowie - Heroes + lyrics - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive

 

This classic Bee Gees track, created especially for the film Saturday Night Fever, is one of those songs that immediately comes to mind when most people think of disco music. The lyrics were inspired by Tony Manero, Saturday Night Fever's main character, and perfectly capture the macho swagger of the average late-'70s disco-loving young New York male in lines "Well you can tell by the way I use my walk/I'm a woman's man, no time to talk." This swagger is balanced elsewhere with lines that hint at the hidden desperation of city life, especially on the lines "I'm goin' nowhere/somebody help me, yeah/I'm stayin' alive." This sense of drama also fuels the song's melody, which builds tension with ever-faster verse melodies that give way to an equally fast chorus that finally slows down to end to release the tension on the descending notes that underline the phrase "ah, ah, ah, stayin' alive." The Bee Gees' recording maintains this tension with style, building the song's foundation on a pulsating, circular beat from the rhythm section and layering yearning strings and the group's fast-paced falsetto harmonies on the top. This treatment gave the song a relentless, infectious feel that made it the most successful of the group's disco outings and it topped the charts around the world as a result. "Stayin' Alive" also played over the opening credits of Saturday Night Fever, perfectly setting the mood for that classic youth drama. Today, it remains one of the most requested songs on "Disco Night" at dance clubs around the world and even inspired a techno-styled cover by N-Trance that became a major European club hit. The enduring power of "Stayin' Alive" proves that it is not only one of the Bee Gees' finest hits but also one of the all-time dance-pop classics.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa9n7GirhsI]Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive (Saturday Night Fever) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Donna Summer – I Feel Love

 

Not only one of the landmark records of the disco era, Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" also anticipated the emergence of techno -- sleek, pulsating, and sensual, its signature galloping bass line and sequencer-driven rhythm established the sonic blueprint for virtually all of the dance music to follow in its wake. Written by Summer in tandem with her longtime production team of Giorgio Moroder and Peter Bellotte, upon its 1977 release "I Feel Love" heralded a massive shift from the lushly orchestral disco records popular during the middle of the decade toward a harder-edged, electronic approach -- completely computer-generated, the song's futuristic sheen combines with its dreamily orgasmic vocal to create an experience that's both clinically remote and primally erotic. Summer's second Top Ten hit, "I Feel Love" ranks alongside Brian Eno's Another Green World and Kraftwerk's Trans Europe Express among the era's seminal electronic recordings, and is perhaps even more pivotal because of its mainstream success.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7r83-y3j2A]Donna Summer - I Feel Love (Original 1977) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Neil Young – Like a Hurricane

 

Inspired by the re-birth of Crazy Horse in 1975, Neil Young set out writing some his finest rock songs, and "Like a Hurricane" was one of the first. Led by a heavy riff (one of Young's dirtiest and finest), and set against a mid-tempo groove, Young's lyrics illustrate the overwhelming confusion of not love, but lust. There's also an underlying feeling of a "liquid" atmosphere -- meaning that the setting is in a bar. It adds a certain lightness to the piece, as does the beautiful melody, which, underneath all of that glorious noise, is readily evident.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-WMbP1RcC4]Neil Young - Like A Hurricane - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Richard Hell & The Voidoids – Blank Generation

 

 

In 1954, a couple years before he signed to RCA and became the biggest thing since canned beer, one reporter described Elvis Presley as the "King of Western Bop," suggesting no one was sure at first just what this new music was supposed to be called. Similarly, in 1975 it was obvious that something new and exciting was happening in New York City -- rock poetess Patti Smith was becoming the talk of the town, the Ramones were making noise on the Bowery, Television was creating a new kind of cool, arty music, and the Heartbreakers seemed poised to pick up where the New York Dolls left off -- but no one really had a collective name for it just yet. If Richard Hell's song "Blank Generation" (written during his brief tenure in Television, performed on stage with the Heartbreakers, and the title cut of his debut album with the Voidoids) wasn't necessarily intended to give a title to these related phenomena, its anthemic tone made it clear that Hell was setting himself and his handful of peers apart from the culture -- both musical and societal -- that surrounded them. Of course, Hell wasn't even naming himself as a member of the "Blank Generation" -- as he's said, he intended it to be read "(Blank) Generation," as in "fill in the blank," and he even sings "I belong to the ? generation" at one point in the song, suggesting at once that this was a generation that had been worn clean of emotion by the world around them, and that you were free to come up with your own name for this new strain of hipsters. From the first lines, "I was sayin' let me out of here before I was even born," Hell paintes a vivid picture of urban alienation and emotional disconnect, but the tough, finger-popping cool of the music (and the bracing cross-talk of Robert Quine and Ivan Julian's guitars) suggests there's pleasure as well as pain in this new pose, and the chorus's Downtown swagger -- "I belong to the Blank Generation/And I can take or leave it each time" -- actually managed to make all of this sound cool. And as for "Blank Generation" as an umbrella name for this new music -- well, it didn't stick as well as "punk," but it doesn't sound half as silly as "new wave."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP3x-VdOb44]Richard Hell and the Voidoids: Blank Generation - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

X-Ray Spex – Oh Bondage Up Yours!

 

"Oh Bondage Up Yours!" is the debut single by British punk rock band X-Ray Spex. Released in September 1977, it is regarded by critics as a prototypic example of British punk, though it was not a chart hit. Poly Styrene, X-Ray Spex's songwriter as well as lead vocalist, had been motivated to join the punk scene like many others as a result of attending a Sex Pistols concert—her first encounter with the band, when she still went by Marianne Elliot-Said, was in Hastings in early July 1976. Concerned with issues of consumerism and disposability, reflected in the name she soon adopted, she wrote "Oh Bondage Up Yours!" shortly after seeing the Pistols for a second time the following month. The lyrics combine a depiction of contemporary capitalist materialism as a brand of servitude with a "feminist [...] rallying cry". Styrene later described it as "a call for liberation. It was saying: 'Bondage—forget it! I'm not going to be bound by the laws of consumerism or bound by my own senses.' It has that line in it: 'Chain smoke, chain gang, I consume you all': you are tied to these activities for someone else's profit." X-Ray Spex' instrumental lineup featured a saxophonist, unusual for a punk band. What made the horn player particularly stand out was that she was a girl, Susan Whitby, just 16 years old as of mid-1977. Band manager Falcon Stuart had helped convince Styrene that the presence of a second woman in the band would be a boon to their marketing. Young Whitby's "freeform" style on her horn, writes Maria Raha, often yielded "staccato wails that faded quickly, like those of a sax player whizzing by in a car". Redubbed Lora Logic, her signature "rough rasp" would feature prominently in "Oh Bondage Up Yours!"

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYMObdOqcRg]XRay Spex - Oh Bondage! Up Yours! - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1978:

 

 

 

10. Talking Heads – The Big Country

 

 

David Byrne was a master of the distrustful narrator. Ironically detached and clearly acting as much as singing most of the time, at least until Little Creatures (1985) ushered in a new era of his songwriting, the listener assumed that Byrne was singing as a character, often poking fun at the narrator himself. This is a rare phenomenon; usually listeners assume the opposite, that when a singer sings a song in the first person -- even times when the singer is interpreting other's work -- he/she is singing autobiographically, confessionally. In the case of "The Big Country," Byrne's protagonist makes observations while on a cross-country plane trip. Peering out the window at middle-American baseball diamonds, schools, and farmland, he tries to understand a life so foreign to his current, apparently hip, urban life: "I guess it's healthy, I guess the air is clean/I guess those people have fun with their neighbors and friends/Look at that kitchen and all of that food/Look at them eat it, guess it tastes real good/I say, I wouldn't live there if you paid me/I couldn't live like that, no siree!/I couldn't do the things the way those people do/I wouldn't live there if you paid me to." It seems like a completely thorough opinion, but the austere language and the choice of phrases like "no siree!" raise a skeptical eyebrow: Is this Byrne talking, or is he deflating a self-important, pompous jet-setter, or both? The songwriter leaves it all open; maybe those people down there have it all figured out. To emphasize this possible interpretation, Byrne's third verse wraps up the song with: "I'm tired of looking out the windows of the airplane/I'm tired of traveling, I want to be somewhere/It's not even worth talking/About those people down there." The narrator seems almost jealous, wearily closing himself off from possibilities and sweepingly dismissing other alternatives to his lifestyle. We are pretty sure by this point that Byrne is not singing confessionally; who would readily present themselves so pompously? In the David Gans book Talking Heads, The Band and Their Music (1985), Byrne explained "...liking ordinary things, living in a modern condominium and working in an office. I wrote "The Big Country" about hating that kind of stuff. I thought I had to be fair. I hoped that the description would sound almost clinical. Benign and sympathetic, but still kind of clinical. And then all of a sudden to have this extreme emotion attached to it I thought was kind of a shock, because there was nothing leading up to it; there was no reason given for it at all." So Byrne seems indeed to be the narrator, though one who has gone through a process of self-discovery; he writes about his past ignorance -- disdain and hard feelings that he now (having written the song) realizes are unattractive and destructive. The music is a loping country-ish pop tune, with Jerry Harrison's slide guitar the most prominent feature of the arrangement.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dErdvJrv8JE]Talking Heads The Big Country (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?)

 

Pete Shelley's basic formula in the Buzzcocks was to marry the speed and emotional urgency of punk with the hooky melodies and boy/girl thematics of classic pop/rock. When he applied this thinking to that most classic of pop themes, unrequited teenage love, he crafted one of his most indelible songs, "Ever Fallen in Love?" While the tune is as ear-catching as anything Shelley ever wrote, it's dominated by minor chords that give it a distinctly downbeat, edgy feel, and the lyrics owe less to adolescent self-pity than the more adult realization of how much being in love can hurt -- and how little one can really do about it.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPG6Ak5FASk]Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love (With Some You Shouldn't) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. The Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet

 

In a world rife with injustice, the music industry has seen -- if not perpetrated -- more than its fair share of travesties (the sad saga of Badfinger comes immediately to mind). But one of the biggest involves, arguably, the greatest rock single ever recorded: the Only Ones' "Another Girl, Another Planet." The word "timeless" and "transcendent" get bandied about far too often when describing a song or an album, but in the case of "Another Girl," even those terms are probably inadequate. The song marks that rare confluence of lyrical, instrumental, and vocal poetry that is so complete, so absolute, that it renders everything else -- in, on, above, below, and around it -- irrelevant while it plays. While frontman Peter Perrett gets -- and deserves -- a lot of the credit for the song's majestic squalor, the song truly is a band effort. Released as a single off the band's formidable self-titled 1978 debut, it's a pitch-perfect fusion of Perrett's spectral vocals and doom-laden lyrics, John Perry's virtuosic guitar flights, and the rhythmic hyperdrive of drummer Mike Kellie and bassist Alan Mair. When Perrett sings "Always flirt with death/I'll get killed but I don't care about it/I can't face your threats/And stand up straight and tall and shout about it," the regret and despondency in his voice hang like dead flowers in the autumn rain. Yet Perry's soaring guitar is always there to carry the pain far enough away to keep the song aloft. Suddenly it's over, and the darkness that you felt dancing behind your back through the entire song now washes over you in waves of almost shivering despair. The effect, as is the case with most classic compositions, lingers far longer than the song itself.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKuc3faQAEs]The Only Ones - Another Girl Another Planet - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. Kraftwerk – Das Model

 

"Das Model" is the anomaly of Kraftwerk's entire catalog, the closest the revered Krautrockers ever came to a conventional pop song. Besides clocking in at a svelte three and a half minutes, it even -- most unusually for them -- has both a standard verse-chorus-bridge structure and, in the yearning monophonic synth melody that functions as the chorus, an honest-to-goodness hook! Florian Schneider delivers the somewhat cynical lyrics (equating sex and commerce, a popular theme in the post-punk era that undoubtedly helped the tune's popularity outside of Kraftwerk's loyal following) in a clipped, sardonic whine, a voice that Gary Numan would soon adopt wholesale for his own vocal style.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0QlPfTmwcw]Kraftwerk- das Modell - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – (I Don’t Want to Go To) Chelsea

 

"(I Don't Want to Go To) Chelsea" is a brilliant ska-inflected rocker from Elvis Costello's debut with crack backing band the Attractions on the excellent This Year's Model LP. "Chelsea" features the flashy yet powerful drumming of Pete Thomas and a taught bass line from (brother in name only) bassist Bruce Thomas locked in an impressively tight groove, providing the surging engine over which Steve Nieve adds some swirling organ. Costello makes economic use of his guitar, contributing a stinging quick riff and well-placed accent chords throughout. The lyrics rain down in a torrent, Costello blurting out accusatory lines with an embittered sneer, "Photographs of fancy tricks to get your kicks at 66/He thinks of all the girls that he's going to fix/She gave a little, flirt gave herself a little cuddle/But there's no place here for the mini-skirt waddle/Capital punishment, she's last year's model/They call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie/I don't want to go to Chelsea." The music modulates for the chorus dropping down as Costello continues his tirade against the shallow nature of vanity and fixations on beauty: "Oh no it does not move me/Even though I've seen the movie/I don't want to check your pulse/I don't want nobody else/I don't want to go to Chelsea," the band slamming to a quick stop on the last line.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6R03DlUHrg]Elvis Costello I don't want to go to Chelsea lyrics - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. Wire - Outdoor Miner

 

Although it shares a punk-derived “outsider” voice with the band’s debut, Pink Flag, it features more developed song structure (taking some cues from 70’s prog-rock, psychedelia and art rock) and a broader palette of emotional and intellectual subject matter. The album was produced by Mike Thorne, who added keyboard and synthesizer elements (compare the versions of Outdoor Miner; with and without the piano accompaniment), which were later expanded upon by the band members on their later releases. These contributions add to the album’s identification as the release in which the band largely transcended and abandoned the punk genre. The pop sensibilities that would come to the fore in their later incarnation of 1985 are evident in songs such as “Outdoor Miner” and I Am The Fly. EMI appreciated the more melodic sound of “Outdoor Miner” so much that they asked the band to create an expanded version of the song for release as a single (which was rather strange, considering the fact that single releases are normally shortened versions of album tracks).

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83fpEaEET7k]Wire "Outdoor Miner" - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Magazine – Shot by Both Sides

 

Although Howard Devoto wrote it with former Buzzcock partner Pete Shelley, “Shot by Both Sides” was the first single from Magazine, the band Devoto formed after the release of Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch 7”. Despite the fact that many critics and fans point to ”Shot by Both Sides” as Magazine’s greatest moment, the song was merely a launching pad. It’s one of the band’s most straightahead arrangements – the tension-ridden nature would remain in place, but it’s a pretty standard driving punk song played by people who happened to be more familiar with their instruments than most of their contemporaries. What would follow from the band – trickier and more imaginative arrangements, crazy keyboard playing from Dave Formula (Bob Dickinson, who plays keys here, was gone after this single’s recording), even sharper lyrics from Devoto – truly set the band apart from all the others. As it is, “Shot by Both Sides” is still a remarkable, rush-inducing song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybUqM8jf3mU]Magazine - Shot By Both Sides - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. Blondie – Heart of Glass

 

"Heart of Glass" is one of those songs that managed to change the playing field for an entire musical genre. By virtue of the song's unqualified success, reaching number one in both the U.S. and the U.K. and beyond, the stakes for the new wave/punk movement had been raised. Before "Heart of Glass," the music's full commercial potential had previously been limited to cult status in line with the small underground scene from which Blondie had emerged. Now it was being realized. What began as a flagrant attempt to exploit the then still raging disco scene turned into the perfect genre-blending dance-pop gem. Even in its earlier incarnations Chapman and the band seemed to sense that the song was a career-changing opportunity and threw themselves into its recording as never before and the result paid off. The band wastes no time setting the rock-solid groove, crashing in behind a percolating drum machine with a throbbing bass line and steady four-on-the-floor bass drum supported by pulsing keyboards and plunky guitar lines. Singer Deborah Harry's vocal takes a more demure tact from the album's more brassy pop/rock numbers, opting instead for a high-pitched cooing, her voice softened by silky double tracking as she muses on the fragile nature of love, "Once I had a love and it was a gas/Soon turned out had a heart of glass/Seemed like the real thing, only to find much o'mistrust/Love's gone behind." Her voice drops slightly for the equally catchy chorus, supported by harmonized male backing vocals as she confesses, "In between what I find is pleasing and I'm feeling fine/Love is so confusing, there's no peace of mind/If I fear I'm losing you/It's no good, you teasing like you do." An organ swells in behind to take over the infectious melody with lush backing "la, la, la"s adding yet another layer of polish. The arrangement has a long vamp out, Harry's vocal dropping out for several minutes, letting the band run with the groove, perhaps with the idea of mimicking the length of many disco hits of the day with the backing vocals and organ carrying the melody as the track clocks in at nearly a full six minutes.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa911_8TP2s]Blondie - Heart Of Glass - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Gang of Four – Damaged Goods

 

A sliver of light poking through the terse, bracing music of Gang of Four, "Damaged Goods is the closest thing approaching a traditional pop single from their influential first record, Entertainment!. It remains a masterful blend of sexual politics with propelling, melodious post-punk angst. The music is given an uncharacteristic lightness and bounce from Dave Allen's superb, hooky bass line, countered with a constant hacking rhythm guitar from Andy Gill. The end result is almost danceable, skewed only by singer Jon King's indignant rant: "Your kiss so sweet/Your sweat so sour/Sometimes I'm thinking that I love you/But I only know it's lust." The group's fondness for a sexual/political double entendre provides the crux of the song's message, becoming most obvious during a middle breakdown where the bass drops out and guitarist Gill deadpans the lines: "Damaged goods/Send them back/I can't work/I can't achieve/Send me back/Open the till/Give me the change you said would do me good/Refund the cost/You said you're cheap, but you're too much." All the while, King sings "ah ah ah ah"s in the background with sweet, dripping sarcasm. The song culminates in a sort of rave-up, vamping out to the lyrics that could summarize the collective attitude of the post-punk era, bidding adieu to the more optimistic music of the '60s and self-absorbed '70s with a singalong chorus of, "I'm kissing you goodbye/I'm kissing you goodbye, goodbye, goodbye." "Damaged Goods" would prove to be the musical flashpoint of an era, which -- along with contemporaries such as the Fall, the Au Pairs, and the Clash -- would forge a new radical political agenda in rock & roll. A fusion of punk and funk that would echo through future groups, such as Fugazi and Rage Against the Machine, amongst others.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byCqOvRMOvo]Gang of Four - Damaged Goods (EMI Version) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights

 

When ”Wuthering Heights”, the teenaged Kate Bush’s debut single, hit #1 in the UK chart in January 1978, it not only astounded listeners, who’d never, ever, heard anything like it before, but it also set the singer a near- impossible bar to scramble over with every subsequent release. Written in early 1977, some months after the young prodigy was signed to EMI, ”Wuthering Heights” was not originally planned as a single – the label had already scheduled ”James and the Cold Gun”, when Bush brought this new song into focus. Her instincts were correct – ”Wuthering Heights” was the ideal preview for her then-forthcoming debut LP, a haunting and ethereal reinvention of Emily Bronte’s windswept, heather-ripped moors love story, delivered in an octave shattering span. With crescendos of piano and strings and Ian Bairnson’s keening guitar becoming a voice in its own right, there were moments when the lithe singer was lost within her own music. Never fear, though, as Bush’s trademark vocal punch always pushed through, as the song’s variegated streams of emotion demanded.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o18uc4kVhTU]Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights (2011 Remasters).wmv - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Chris Bell – I Am the Cosmos

 

While conventional wisdom has long had it that Alex Chilton was the great mind behind Big Star, the A-side to Chris Bell's first and only solo single (and the title cut to the posthumous album that would follow many years later) makes clear just how much he had to do with shaping the sound of the group's first album, Number One Record. "I Am the Cosmos" is sonically expansive and emotionally fervent widescreen pop which takes the style of Number One Record's grander cuts (such as "Feel" and "My Life Is Right") and elevates it to a whole new level. From the processed vocals at the outset, pleading, "Every night I tell myself, I am the cosmos/I am the wind/But that don't get you back again," Bell's performance is a desperate plea of Baroque, neo-psychedelic longing, and the song ranks alongside the hits of Phil Spector or Roy Orbison as an expression of love as both beauty and emotional agony.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR594Kkxmzg]Chris Bell - I Am the Cosmos - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The Clash – (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais

 

Certainly before there was the British wave of ska in the late '70s/early '80s, the Clash had already experimented with the thick bass line and choppy guitar configuration that define punky reggae. "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" may have actually been the first song to merge punk and reggae. The guitar comes in stinging, but soon it moves over to place Joe Strummer's vocal front and center (maybe that wasn't intentional, as the Clash sessions from which this song and others from the early period came were famous for being poorly recorded) alongside Paul Simonon's loping bass. The lyric was inspired by Strummer's visit to a reggae "All Niter" at the famous London venue Hammersmith Palais. He was disappointed with a Dilinger and Leroy Smart performance, so he took the opportunity to review it in a song. He also took the opportunity to dis his fellows in punk rock ("turning rebellion into money"), and of course his government and its people. But he never missed an opportunity to poke fun at himself, the white man in the Palais. Self-deprecation is a Clash song quality which was often overlooked, but ultimately won them many fans; misinterpreters thought the band took themselves "too seriously."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6fC69D-wlY](White Man) In Hammersmith Palais - Album Version - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove

 

"One Nation Under a Groove" is a 1978 song by Funkadelic, the title track from their album of the same name, The lyrics refer to dancing as a way to freedom. Compared to Funkadelic's earlier output, that was characterized by sound typical for rock music, this song has sound more typical for dance music. It has endured as a dance funk classic and is probably Funkadelic's most widely known song. "One Nation Under a Groove" peaked at number twenty-eight on the Hot 100 and reached number one on the Billboard Soul chart for six weeks, the longest of any number one single released in 1978.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WOZwwRH6XU]One Nation Under A Groove - Funkadelic (1978) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Public Image Ltd. – Public Image

 

 

"Public Image" is a song by Public Image Ltd. It reached number nine on the UK Singles Chart. The song was written when Lydon was in the Sex Pistols. The song addresses John Lydon's feelings of being exploited in the Sex Pistols by Malcolm McLaren and the press. The single was originally packaged in a fake newspaper that makes outrageous statements such as "Refused To Play Russian Roullete", "No Ones Innocent, Except Us", "Donut's Laugh saves life" (Donut being a nickname for Jim Walker) and "The Girl Who Drove Me To Tea" among others.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cifo77azntk]PIL (Public Image Ltd) - Public Image (Public Image) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Stiff Little Fingers – Suspect Device

 

Although it was England that spawned most of the political punk bands of the '70s, it was Ireland that was quite literally mere steps away from being a police state for most of the decade, thanks to the increasingly violent clashes between the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Unionists. And yet for some reason, Stiff Little Fingers were the only prominent Irish punk band to take what the natives laconically termed "The Troubles" as their primary theme, as on this debut single. In police-speak, a "suspect device" was code for the bombs that were exploding with increasing frequency in both Ireland and England, a term that singer Jake Burns equates with the disenfranchised youths whose frustration lead them to become terrorists in the first place. The stuttering chorus, built on a short sharp shock of a guitar riff, also puns on the slang term "suss," meaning common sense or street smarts, exhorting the audience to channel their anger to a more productive end. More to the point, it's a powerhouse of a punk rock single, with a Clash-like sense of urgency mixed with enough smart pop hooks to sneak the message out into the musical mainstream.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKsN5cj9ehs]Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1979:

 

 

 

10. Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

 

 

"Comfortably Numb"'s importance is multifaceted. Not only is it one of The Wall's most endearing and enchanting songs, but it also involves some remarkable guitar work from David Gilmour, maybe even his best, and a sharing of the vocals from both he and Roger Waters results in the hallucinatory, dreamlike ebb and tide that fluctuates throughout the song's duration. At this point of the album, Pink is unconscious on the floor of his hotel room as a doctor administers drugs to take away all of his senses, leaving him "comfortably numb" in order to perform to the awaiting crowd. But the lyrics stray from the present, back to when Pink was a child and was suffering from a serious fever. This reminiscence of childhood and the comparisons to both sensations, even if they're unpleasant, represents Pink's longing for some nurturing and the simplicity and naïveté of youth. "Comfortably Numb"'s significance is equally as powerful musically as it is lyrically. The song rises and floats superbly, resembling a surreal and faraway state of consciousness thanks to the extended notes that are orchestrated by Gilmour, as well as Freddie Mandell's organ work. Even though the music was written by Gilmour and the bulk of the words from Waters, the two of them work wonderfully together throughout the song, resulting in the most accommodating and synergetic performance from both musicians in the same song than any other. The song also serves as a turning point on the album, as this is where Pink begins to realize in full the ill effects of touring and coping with fame and stardom, which is The Wall's most dominant concept.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpzxf_flm8M]Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. The Clash – Train in Vain

 

Evidence of their grasp of the roots of rock & roll, on "Train in Vain" the Clash reference Robert Johnson in the title and Ben E. King in the chorus, though in the Clash song the jilted-lover protagonist bemoans "Did you stand by me/No not at all." With a funky popping guitar riff and a rootsy train whistle-like harmonica hook, the song stands as one of the most infectious and buoyant pop songs of the era. The song was literally the hidden gem of the master-stroke London Calling, which spans much of the history of rock & roll -- from blues and jazz, to early rock & roll and rockabilly, to funk, ska, and reggae -- all injected with a raw enthusiasm and played with an aggression that was still called punk. While Joe Strummer was often perceived as the loose cannon, politically charged raw edge of the Clash, Mick Jones was seen as its pop conscience. Of course, as with the Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the argument is never that simple, but "Train in Vain"'s almost pure pop essence certainly throws wood on the fire. Sung with unwavering conviction by Jones, the song's irresistible melody is a memorable kiss-off anthem that now sounds at home on classic rock stations.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3Yl4ehzX-o]The Clash - Train in Vain - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. Gang of Four – At Home He’s a Tourist

 

Some decades later, the Gang of Four's debut single still holds a startling power and immediacy even as so many of its post-punk contemporaries sound dated and dull. The only "normal" sounding instrument is Dave Allen's percolating, dub-inflected bass; Hugo Burnham's drums are trickily off-kilter, putting rolls and accents in exactly the wrong places, while Andy Gill's guitar throughout is simply off in its own little atonal world throughout the entire song. Gill's slashing, hacking riffs bear little relation to the rest of the song, wandering into the same orbit as the rhythm section only on the driving bridges. Through it all, singer Jon King spits out each word of the lyric in near-disgust, sneering at the mindless consumer profiled in the lyric with icy fury. It's an aggressively unpleasant song in some ways, but there's so much energy and passion barely contained in its tightly-wound groove that it's impossible not to have an opinion about it one way or another. Therefore, it accomplishes exactly what the Gang of Four wanted it to.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElhAysq3O6c]Gang Of Four - At Home He's A Tourist (1979) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. Wire – Map Ref. 41°N 93°W

 

If Chairs Missing was a transitional album between punk and post-punk, 154 is squarely in the latter camp, devoting itself to experimental soundscapes that can sound cold and forbidding at times. However, the best tracks retain their humanity thanks to the arrangements' smooth, seamless blend of electronic and guitar textures and the beauty of the group's melodies. Where previously some of Wire's hooks could find themselves buried or not properly brought out, the fully fleshed-out production of 154 lends a sweeping splendor to "The 15th," the epic "A Touching Display," "A Mutual Friend," and the gorgeous (if obscurely titled) "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ2RvSHK_B8]Wire - Map Ref. 41°N 93°W - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Chic – Good Times

 

Three's a charm is a popular saying. After having gold and platinum success with their first two LPs, Chic was in a position to ponder both their past and their future. Having avoided the dreaded hit-stalling sophomore curse, the group was flushed with optimism when the lead single to the third LP, Risque, was put on the release schedule. "My Feet Feel Like Dancing" was a pleasant enough mid-tempo disco record with a sharp string arrangement and a clever "tap dancing" section courtesy of Fayard Nicholas of the famed Nicholas Brothers and Eugene Jackson of Our Gang, aka The Little Rascals. Though Atlantic Records was excited about the record, group founders/songwriters/producers Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards didn't feel quite right about the track being the first single. It caused so much consternation between the two that they gave each other the silent treatment until Rodgers urged his partner to open up. They both came to the conclusion that they really wanted another track titled "Good Times" to be the lead single. The idea of the song came from Rodgers and Edwards' reaction to the media criticism that tried to tagged the group's music as inconsequential. They seemed to miss the point that Chic made good-time dance music and somehow they'd amazingly overlooked the band's formidable playing skills and considerable stylistic range. The thumping "Good Times" stayed at number one R&B for six weeks and hit number one pop in summer 1979. It also had a key part in fueling the emerging rap music genre.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g6bUe5MDRo]Chic - Good Times (DIVA RADIO http://www.deevaradio.net) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. Joy Division – New Dawn Fades

 

One of the many reasons Unknown Pleasures is the landmark album it is, "New Dawn Fades" was the most overt turn by Joy Division on that record towards an epic rock moment, drawing on everything from Black Sabbath's anti-anthems to Krautrock's clean, steady drive. A strange, looped instrumental moan heralds the rhythm section's appearance, Peter Hook's bass as sepulchral as could be asked for, Bernard Sumner's guitar sounding like it's trying to slowly scale an impossible height, trying to rise above where it was. Ian Curtis's vocals reflect on personal connection and its tangled collapse, of trying to escape a poisonous entropy in search of feeling -- the initial slight echo and almost half-whispered singing eventually turns into a near howl, the melodramatic becoming obsessively personal and strong, "hoping for something more." Sumner's concluding riff makes for a moment of light in this otherwise astonishingly dark, powerful composition.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbeNRHtpgOk]Joy Division - 05 - New Dawn Fades - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Talking Heads – Life During Wartime

 

With the memorable chorus that forever memorialized the late-'70s New York punk rock club scene, "This ain't no party/This ain't no disco/This ain't no fooling around/This ain't no Mudd Club/No CBGB/I ain't got time for that now," "Life During Wartime," from the 1979 Talking Heads LP Fear of Music, is the sort of apocalyptic punk/funk merge that Prince would go on to imprint with his own indelible style on songs like "1999." Talking Heads made no claims of being anything but post-collegiate white fans of funk and R&B, but with their deep understanding of the music and employment of actual funk musicians like Bernie Worrel in later years, they out-funked countless Caucasian college groove-party bands who thought themselves pretty jamming. The Anthony Perkins-like character that David Byrne refined during Talking Heads' career proved a convincing mouthpiece for such foreboding lyrics as: "Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons/Packed up and ready to go/Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway/A place where nobody knows/The sound of gunfire, off in the distance/I'm getting used to it now/Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto/I've lived all over this town." Byrne delivers the verses in a restrained speak-singing voice that echoes the forced self-control of his first-person narrator in "Psycho Killer," the singer not so much singing as acting. And his clean-cut appearance in the black-leather, punk rock context of his colleagues might have made others giggle nervously, for something was certainly askew -- as writer Lester Bangs called him, "a kind of Everyneurotic" -- an image that Byrne cultivated with great aplomb. Here, he is not the nervous neighbor-boy of "Psycho Killer," but a paranoid, perhaps prophetic survivalist taking pages from the Lee Harvey Oswald textbook. The song can be taken as a fun sort of protest song, with it's loose-cannon chorus ready-made for chanting. But underneath it is a serious commentary on the apocalyptic fears of a nuclear nation embarking on an eight-year Reagan administration and still in the midst of the Cold War. Byrne paints a dystopian, Orwell-ian picture of some political operatives who must shut off human emotion: "We dress like students, we dress like housewives/Or in a suit and a tie/I changed my hairstyle so many times now/I don't know what I look like/You make me shiver, I feel so tender/We make a pretty good team/Don't get exhausted, I'll do some driving/You ought to get you some sleep." Unlike much rock & roll social commentary that is dogmatic and didactic, Byrne follows the number one rule of creative writing -- show, don't tell -- with crisp cinematic images and a healthy injection of levity: "I got some groceries, some peanut butter/To last a couple of days/But I ain't got no speakers/Ain't got no headphones/Ain't got no records to play." Riding a slinky guitar and synth or Clavinet riff and Chris Frantz's insistent four-on-the-floor drumbeat, the forceful rhythm section is pumped high, with Tina Weymouth's bass prominent in the mix and conga drums adding to the track's infectious danceability. As they continued to demonstrate, Talking Heads add interesting textures and subtle production/arrangement flourishes from the band and frequent collaborator, producer Brian Eno, like an offbeat rhythm guitar that suspends on one chord from the solo section until the end of the song, creating an uncomfortable tension.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DblvhECdws0]Talking Heads - Life During Wartime (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks

 

Chances are, if you asked the average guy on the street if he'd ever heard of "Teenage Kicks," he'd probably frown quizzically and politely ask you what you were smoking. That, or he'd run screaming for the nearest police station. Ask John Peel the same question, and you'd get a very different response. That's because the legendary British DJ holds the Undertones' first single as his favorite pop song of all time -- and considering that Peel has spun some of the most influential records in rock history, that's a pretty grand statement. "I can't listen to it now without getting all dewy eyed," says Peel. "And if I play it on the radio I have to segue it into the front of another record because I can't speak after I've heard it." One listen to "Teenage Kicks" and it's not hard to see why Peel is so fervent about it. A delirious summer blast of adolescent angst, the song sports every characteristic of a classic pop composition: a memorable, hook-filled melody; singalong lyrics; production tailor-made for car stereos; and, above all, brevity. In two minutes, 25 seconds, it's over, and you're scrambling for the rewind button. In fact, "Teenage Kicks" is such a perfect marriage of teen vitriol and pop savvy, it's almost incomprehensible that the song didn't fare better commercially.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVrP6JaPUv0]The Undertones - Teenage Kicks - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. The Clash – London Calling

 

After suffering a bit of a sophomore slump with 1978's Give 'Em Enough Rope, the Clash returned with a vengeance on the classic London Calling. This exuberant and complex double album found the group delivering ambitious music with total energy and conviction, a mandate that is firmly laid down with the album-opening title track. The lyrics read like a call to order for all post-punk generation rockers, complete with couplets like "London calling to the imitation zone/Forget it, brother, you can go it alone." They also use imagery like "The ice age is coming/The sun's zooming in" to create an apocalyptic feel. However, the songwriters were clever enough to keep things from getting too overwrought by working in occasional witty moments like "London calling to the zombies of death/Quit holding out and draw another breath." The music behind these sentiments has a hypnotic sense of drive, foregoing the usual verse-chorus structure in favor of a circular melody that allows the lyrics to take center stage and utilizes a mesmerizing descending-note motif to underline the oft-repeated title phrase. The Clash's recording of "London Calling" cleverly crossbreeds anthemic hard rock with reggae by juxtaposing slashing, staccato guitar riffs with an undulating rhythm section beat as Strummer lays down a snarling vocal that delivers the lyrics with a combination of passion and fervor. All these elements made "London Calling" a witty but powerful manifesto for post-punk rock & roll and its thorough excellence makes it easy to wonder why critics and fans alike consider London Calling to be both the Clash's finest hour and one of the greatest rock albums of the 1970s.

 

[video=youtube;4vHvzybkqfo]

 

 

 

 

1. Joy Division – Transmission

 

Picking out an exact moment of Joy Division at the sheer peak of its collective power can never be agreed on by fans, but if there's a strong candidate, "Transmission" would have to be it. It's not merely for the sharp performance but especially Martin Hannett's legendary production, which drop-kicked the tight-riffing number into a futuristic setting of space and action needed to fill silence. Starting with distant keyboards like a lost moan, it takes shape around Peter Hook's direct bass line and then gets kicked up even further by the sudden echoed smack of Stephen Morris's drums. Bernard Sumner's simple but devastating riff provides the counterpoint, and at the center of the straightforward charge is Ian Curtis, celebrating the power of music and activity as a near-literal electric force for connection -- "touching from a distance/further all the time." After an amazing instrumental break, Sumner's overdubs along with a skittering, nervous synth part adding even more of a thick surge to the music, the final jaw-dropping verse finds Curtis in perverse excelsis, his sudden scream of "And we could DANCE!" a perfectly timed moment of tension and blessed release. That the song ends on a slowing, breath-catching coda seems only appropriate after the jaw-dropping heights scaled -- in recording, arranging, writing, and delivery, "Transmission" has a power few other songs share.

 

[video=youtube;FnWPGSQjFUc]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead

 

Recorded at Bauhaus' first ever studio session, in early 1979, "Bela Lugosi's Dead" was taped live -- none of the bandmembers knew their way around the studio sufficiently to do anything else, while studio owner Derek Tompkins admitted that, for what they were trying to do, they could be the only judges. He sorted out the best sound he possibly could, helped Daniel Ash and David J set up the echo and effects, then left them to get on with it. A shade under ten minutes of clicking, scratching, scraping, and keening later, Bauhaus' masterpiece was complete. It was Ash and J who created the song in the first place, Ash by slowing down an old Gary Glitter riff, then messing with the chords; J with a chorus he'd recently written, toying with the idea of whether Hollywood's greatest vampire could ever really be dead. From those basics, "Bela Lugosi's Dead" crackles in on percussion alone, a tapping, rattling rhythm into which a three-note bass line only gradually intrudes itself before Ash's treated guitar slides in, echoed and echoing the most atmospheric dub. The ingredients merge, but the curtain is still rising; it takes minutes before Peter Murphy, his voice a deep, sepulchral rumble, is cued to take the stage, and minutes more before there's even a hint that the tension might be relieved, as the song -- such an inappropriate word -- moves towards its melody. It's relentless, one of those so-scarce moments when performer, performance, mood, and music are so expertly blended that the actual components are absolutely inextricable. Guitars become creaking coffin lids, the bass becomes footfalls in a darkened corridor above, the drum is the flapping of a myriad of bat wings, and Murphy -- Murphy is the count, dead, undead.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKRJfIPiJGY]Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (Original) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays

 

Recorded near the end of the Buzzcocks' remarkable string of classic singles, "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" sounds like a knowing self-parody of the angst-ridden chainsaw pop of the band's first two albums. Balancing clear single-note verses over furiously power-chorded choruses, Pete Shelley wavers between nervous confusion and simple-minded self assurance ("Life's an illusion/Love is a dream/But I don't know what it is/Everyone's saying things to me/But I know it's OK! OK!"), with everything at once resolved and contradicted with the wonderfully moronic singalong chorus of "Ev-ry Bod-ees Hap-py Now-a-days!" While wit was always a big part of the Buzzcocks' best work, Pete Shelley rarely made the joke more obvious -- or enjoyed it as much -- as he did on this song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnaX0ePPo5A]Buzzcocks - Everybody's Happy Nowadays - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Elvis Costello & the Attractions – (What’s So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding

 

Elvis Costello didn't record many covers in the early part of his career, but the ones that he did commit to wax he made his own, and his version of Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" stands as a perfect example. Lowe first cut the song while a member of the band Brinsley Schwartz; with an arrangement that sounded like a souped-up approximation of the Byrds, it came off as a sad, bittersweet elegy to the hippie era, which was quickly fading into the sunset. Costello's version first emerged as the surprise B-side to the British single of Lowe's "American Squirm" (credited to Nick Lowe and His Sound), and received its greatest circulation as the closing track to the American edition of Armed Forces. But where Brinsley Schwartz's version sounded like a farewell to the era of flower power, Costello addressed his version to a world that was teetering on the edge of a new cold war threatening to turn deadly; here, "Peace, Love, and Understanding" was no mere catchphrase, but a desperate call for sanity in a world prepared to blow itself up. Costello and his band tore into the song with a passionate ferocity that was rare even for one of the most solid and hard-driving pop acts of their day. If the original was a farewell hymn, in Costello's hands "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" became a wake-up call, and no one who heard it could escape the urgency of its message.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhol3zIoynE](What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding (Li... - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Neil Young – Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)

 

 

On this track, rock and roll chameleon Neil Young single-handedly pays tribute to punk and foreshadows the grunge movement of the 1990s. “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” is a dark hard-driving and distortion-laden bookend to the comparatively pastoral “Hey Hey, My My (Out Of The Blue)” -- both of which are featured on Young’s fourteenth long player Rust Never Sleeps (1979). The lyrics deal fairly directly with the brevity of life as well as the concept that underneath everyone’s veneer lays a decidedly more complex reality. Young also acknowledges the Sex Pistols’ front man with the rhetorical question “Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?”, adding “It’s better to burn out ‘cause rust never sleeps.” Musically, the aggressive thrashing of Crazy Horse provides Young an opportunity to weave an equally antagonistic lead electric guitar crunch. The combo offers an extended instrumental jam that winds into an incinerating finale.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQhEvfeJocM]Neil Young - Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight

 

 

The unofficial debut of hip-hop on vinyl, the novelty hit "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang proved to be much more than a one-hit wonder (for the music, if not for the group). The single was masterminded by Sylvia Robinson, a soul singer (one-half of Mickey & Sylvia) and owner of the fledgling Sugar Hill Records from Englewood, NJ. After hearing the sound blowing up in New York during the late '70s, she conceived the idea of issuing a single based on the music. Her son Joey began rounding up talent, beginning with Henry "Big Bank Hank" Jackson, who he'd heard rhyming over a rap by Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers. According to published accounts, after Robinson auditioned Jackson outside the pizzeria he was working at, the other two future members of the group -- Michael "Wonder Mike" Wright and Guy "Master Gee" O'Brien -- saw the display and asked to audition as well. Within a few days, the newly christened Sugarhill Gang entered the studio and recorded a series of lengthy raps over a session band's recreation of the recent disco hit "Good Times" by Chic. By the summer of 1979, "Rapper's Delight" was all over R&B radio, to the consternation of many of the music's pioneers in the Bronx and Brookyln, who'd never heard of the New Jersey trio with (comparatively) wack rhymes -- some lifted wholesale from other MCs.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKTUAESacQM]The Sugar Hill Gang - Rapper's Delight ( HQ, Full Version ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

#1 Songs from 1970s at a Glance:

 

 

 

1970: Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z66wVo7uNw]Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1971: The Beach Boys – Surf’s Up

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ2OKoLpNBM]Surf's Up - The Beach Boys - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1972: Lou Reed – Perfect Day

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYEC4TZsy-Y]Lou Reed - Perfect Day - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1973: Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6QZn9xiuOE]Marvin Gaye - Lets get it on - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1974: Big Star – September Gurls

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXEPgjOdZt4]Big Star-September Gurls - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1975: Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3t9SfrfDZM]Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1976: The Modern Lovers – Roadrunner

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgRYncR1Nog]Roadrunner - The Modern Lovers - best version? you decide - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1977: David Bowie – Heroes

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3SjCzA71eM]David Bowie - Heroes + lyrics - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1978: Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o18uc4kVhTU]Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights (2011 Remasters).wmv - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1979: Joy Division – Transmission

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnWPGSQjFUc]Joy Division - Transmission - YouTube[/ame]

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1980:

 

 

 

10. David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes

 

 

David Bowie's second U.K. chart-topper was, not at all coincidentally, a very deliberate follow-up to his first, the 1975 reissue of "Space Oddity." Most easily summed up as the continuing adventures of Major Tom, the spaceman hero of that first song, "Ashes to Ashes" was also a very deliberate acknowledgement of the then-burgeoning new romantic scene -- the accompanying video (itself one of the most significant and influential of the age) drew its cast from among the scene's best-known faces.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-IkC3isMoc]David Bowie Ashes to Ashes - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. Dead Kennedys – Holiday in Cambodia

 

The Dead Kennedys are fondly remembered as a defining band in American hardcore, which is odd since they rarely ever used the obvious clichés of that style of music. Indeed, "Holiday In Cambodia" is in most ways the exact opposite of most hardcore music: it's long (four and a half minutes, longer than many entire hardcore EPs!), not particularly fast, and it uses both psychedelic echoing guitar solos and an almost dancey bass riff to support Jello Biafra's humorously snotty vocals and pointedly sarcastic lyrics. Nevertheless, it was possibly the most successful single of the American hardcore scene, and one of the few that doesn't sound terribly dated and sophomoric in retrospect.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KTsXHXMkJA]The Dead Kennedys - Holiday in Cambodia - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. Joy Division – Isolation

 

A slightly atypical track for Joy Division, though a partial predictor of the band's New Order future, "Isolation" is perhaps the closest the band ever got to synth pop, but it would be more accurate to see it as the cousin to the all-electronic compositions of Kraftwerk and Suicide. That said, the song structure and delivery is all Joy Division and as such makes the song an intriguing twist on a style and a highlight of the excellent Closer album. Stephen Morris's drumming comes across as more harshly electronic than ever though Peter Hook's rolling, stabbing bass is purely him. But it's Bernard Sumner's translation of his guitar melody style to a cascading, nervous high synth line that's the compelling element of the song, balanced against one of Ian Curtis's finest lyrical and singing efforts, a poetic and slightly abstract portrait of the titular subject. His sense of connection and reaching after the impossible gets encapsulated perfectly in the (perhaps in retrospect chilling) line "But if you could just see the beauty, these things I could never describe." Another sharp touch -- the fake ending where the band suddenly cuts out, only for the tape to suddenly, noisily feedback a snippet of the performance as a blunt ending.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bkcPS3GHQY]Joy Division - 02 - Isolation - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. Mission of Burma – Academy Fight Song

 

Perhaps the most important innovation in the development of American alternative rock stemmed from an identity crisis in the punk and hardcore movement. As a natural consequence of their struggle toward maturity, some bands forged in punk's D.I.Y. ethos began to turn their raw, strident fury inward. Generally speaking, the music became more introspective, cryptic, and defiantly quirky, capturing the confusion and disenfranchisement of a certain segment of American youth who felt out of place in the nakedly capitalist zeitgeist of the Reagan era. The process was certainly a gradual process, but one of the most important links in the chain was Boston-based Mission of Burma's 1980 debut single, "Academy Fight Song." Musically, it's something of a departure from the punk norm, with its jerky rhythms and distorted yet chiming suspended chords. It makes for a highly distinctive sound when fused with punk's raging, noisy rush, and it also accounts for a great deal of the sonic force. Much of "Academy Fight Song" gets by on energy rather than melody; the vocals are mostly yelped and chanted, which actually heightens the impact of the anthemic, spine-tingling chorus. Right from the beginning, the song's lyrics are rich in personal significance. Its social commentary is very specific, dissecting the rigid, antiseptic environment of a boarding school. That vivid sense of place immediately separates the song from the more generalized rebellion and sweeping statements commonplace in punk rock. The radical departure, though, comes in the second verse. After having repeatedly slammed the authoritarian conformity of the place, and individuating the singer in the chorus ("I'm not not not...your academy"), the lyrics become unexpectedly uncertain: "What's that I hear/The sound of marching feet/It has a strange allure/It has a strange...allure." Instead of outright condemnation, the song suddenly reveals a deep-seated wish to belong, even to something the singer abhors. This raises the possibility that perhaps he's only angry because he doesn't fit in, not because there's something intrinsically wrong with the value system. That newfound self-doubt is addressed in the third verse: "Maybe you're right, I shouldn't judge/What's wrong or right, this is too much." So what's left? The answer -- given over floating background vocals that cut the music's aggression -- signals a seismic shift in focus whose repercussions were still being felt in alternative rock over a decade later: "I'm not judging you, I'm judging me." Unsure of how to live in the face of the real world's moral complexity, "Academy Fight Song" copes by moving into the interior world of the self -- which can be controlled and shaped. Some might see this as an admission of defeat, but really, it's an attempt to apply high standards and alternate values, without forcing them on anyone for whom they really might not be beneficial -- the exact crime bemoaned in the first part of the song. Chastened by uncertainty but hardly defeated, "Academy Fight Song" is a stunningly mature, emotionally complicated statement, and the fact that it's a debut single is all the more amazing.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXkZI7WZWOo]Mission Of Burma - Academy Fight Song (with lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. The Cure – Boys Don't Cry

 

Unlike later Cure songs that tended to be densely layered swirls of sound, early songs like "Boys Don't Cry" -- from the compilation-of-sorts album Boys Don't Cry (1980) -- are pared-down affairs: sparse and austere, with crystalline guitars, prominent lead vocals, and minimal production. A delectable pop burst, "Boys Don't Cry" has more to do with early-'80s American popsters like the dB's than the goth rock contemporaries with which the Cure found themselves lumped. And while the ire production ethos changed over the years, with increasing depth and rich texture, the pop sense that the band showed on "Boys Don't Cry" continued to set the band apart as sterling songwriters with an incomparable ear for melody. The classic lineup features just two guitar parts (from Robert Smith), Michael Dempsey on bass, Laurence Tolhurst on drums, and Smith's vocals. "Boys Don't Cry" chugs along at the sort of jaunty tempo that would become more rare as the band continued. The guitars strum rather than churn. There is a memorable single-note guitar line appearing on the chorus that brings to mind pop-punk bands like the Buzzcocks and such offspring as Superchunk. Smith's lyric also sets a bit of a template for his later recurring themes, albeit this one is devoid of much of his existential alienation; "Boys Don't Cry" is a more straightforward teen love-and-loss song: "I would say I'm sorry/If I thought that it would change your mind/But I know that this time/I've said too much/Been too unkind/I try to laugh about it/Cover it all up with lies/I try and laugh about it/Hiding the tears in my eyes/'Cause boys don't cry/Boys don't cry." It is really just a classic pop song (it even features a well-conceived middle-eight bridge), sung with Smith's singular style and just a little bit of sneer thrown in for effect. The singer sounds simultaneously snotty, sad-sack, flip, and regretful. In other words, Smith manages to capture much of the self-loathing and aggressive disregard for other's feelings that teenagers can sometimes practice.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1AzMiCXojo]The Cure - Boys Don't Cry Lyrics - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. Talking Heads – Crosseyed and Painless

 

Taking cues from David Bowie's experiments with the same producer, Talking Heads hook up for their third collaboration with pioneering Brian Eno for Remain in Light (1980), one of the most influential and groundbreaking albums in pop music. Talking Heads, again like Bowie, successfully blend elements of dance and rock musical styles, filtering it through electronically treated African rhythms and intricate and dense production. Calling "Crosseyed and Painless" a rock-funk song is an inadequate and insufficient description. The band and Eno -- who is listed as a co-writer -- have created new soundscapes and helped chip away at the implied, often overt, racial divide between rock and dance music. Beyond that, they -- Eno and David Byrne in particular -- uninhibitedly incorporate African musical influences, thus helping to pave the way toward further American pop and world music blends recorded in the '80s and '90s by artists like Peter Gabriel and countless others. There are just two chords and three or four bass notes in the whole song. The beats, like much of the record, are unrelenting, but few songs on the album are as driving as "Crosseyed and Painless." There is even little in the way of dynamics to break up the arrangement; the 1/16 note percussion -- cowbell loops, congas, bells, staccato guitar rhythms, electronic blips -- have a cumulative, pummeling effect. There are some remarkable Adrian Belew guitar parts, which turn the idea of the rock guitar solo on its head -- sweeping, eerie textures that pan through the stereo mix. But the only substantial arrangement/construction device comes in the way of multiple vocal parts. The bass-drums rhythm section of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz remain steadfast through the maelstrom. Byrne is his usual enigmatic self, giving voice to another off-kilter narrator. Angular and obtuse, his verses show a man at war with himself. "Lost my shape," he spits out, "Trying to act casual/Can't stop/I might end up in the hospital/Changing my shape/I feel like an accident/They're back/To explain their experience...Facts are never what they seem to be." Like the music itself, the narrator seems driven by forces beyond his control; whether they're internal or larger, external influences, he seems unsure. Fitting in with the themes of the rest of the album -- and indeed, many of Byrne's songs -- the lyrics point to information overload, paranoia, and individual alienation in an oppressive urban society.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cY3tHQJegOM]Talking Heads - Crosseyed And Painless (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Bruce Springsteen – The River

 

Bruce Springsteen introduced "The River" on September 22, 1979, at Madison Square Garden during one of the No Nukes benefit concerts. A year then went by before the song became the title track of his fifth album. It is a mid-tempo ballad with a steady, rollicking beat that kicks in after the initial haunting harmonica introduction and a folk-like opening verse. The lyric tells the story of a young man whose life is settled in his late teens when he marries his pregnant girlfriend and gets a union construction job. The title refers to his dives with his girlfriend into a local watering hole, but "the river" clearly is also a metaphor for the young man's passions, which are stifled by his sudden confrontation with adult responsibility; by the end of the song, the river has gone dry. "The River" marked a further development for Springsteen from his previous work. Beginning by celebrating and mythologizing the lives of working class teens in his first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey and The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, Springsteen had forced them to confront life's difficulties, starting with his third album, Born to Run, and continuing extensively on his fourth, Darkness at the Edge of Town, in which his characters sometimes stubbornly persevered in the face of mounting odds. "The River," one of many ballads he seemed to be writing after Darkness at the Edge of Town (he had already premiered "Independence Day" during the Darkness tour), followed on from "Racing in the Street," another song about a romantic relationship gone sour. But here the narrator was in a more permanent fix, married with a child on the way, and he could not escape to the streets in his souped-up car. Springsteen lifted the story out of the particular and into the philosophical with the question, "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse?" Here, he suggested that not only can dreams be disappointed, but that having dreams at all may be detrimental to the dreamer, a devastating suggestion. In this sense, "The River" looks forward to the songwriter's next collection, the despairing Nebraska.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAB4vOkL6cE]Bruce Springsteen - The River - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. Joy Division – Atmosphere

 

"Atmosphere" is another one of those prime Joy Division songs, like "Transmission" or "Love Will Tear Us Apart," where Martin Hannett's production becomes so essential to the end result that it couldn't have been heard otherwise. Bernard Sumner's low keyboard start and Peter Hook's minimal, calm bass make a perfect counterpoint to the sheer, sudden power of Stephen Morris's sudden drum parts -- if anything, percussion is the heart of the song, the echo and near-tribal roll of the beats suggesting a futuristic ritual. Ian Curtis's performance is another one of his best -- one of his most controlled and calm, his deep moan suggesting both a will to continue and a sheer mournfulness. The killer touch, without question, has to be the sudden, shimmering keyboard sparkle Sumner adds after each verse, produced to sound like rays of light from the heavens, a beautiful contrast of light against the heavy rhythmic doom down below. It's little surprise John Peel chose this song as the one to play on the air after announcing Curtis's death -- there's a feeling of a requiem here, an awesome musical farewell.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpa9LtunUcg]Joy Division - Atmosphere. - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

 

Despite its near-total lack of chart success, "Once in a Lifetime" became one of Talking Heads' most popular and celebrated songs over the years since its initial release on the 1980 album Remain in Light. Produced by Brian Eno, this original version is built around intricate, polyrhythmic percussion and a spacy keyboard wash that evokes the image of flowing water, which dominates David Byrne's lyrics. Simple, start-and-stop bass lines both push the song forward and create a herky-jerky feel. Since the verses are spoken, not sung, there is no melodic hook until the song bursts into its exuberant chorus, which belies the tension and claustrophobia of Byrne's abstract, impressionistic lyrics. Although they defy easy analysis, overall the lyrics address the drudgery of living life according to social expectations, and pursuing commonly accepted trophies (a large automobile, beautiful house, beautiful wife). The recited verses progress through stages of life -- the first has a giddy sense of possibility stemming from newfound prosperity; the second hints at a vague dissatisfaction and sense of estrangement from the things the narrator has worked for; and the third questions the whole direction of the narrator's life -- where he had passively been "letting the days go by." Mumbling "same as it ever was" to himself with an increasing sense of panic, he now explodes in a shout of "My God, what have I done?"Eno's production, meanwhile, is typically detailed and inventive, weaving subtle elements into the background, adding scratchy funk guitars on the choruses, and fading out with a distorted, Velvet Underground-ish organ drone

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1iiAvlFYhU]"THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH" - TALKING HEADS - "ONCE IN A LIFETIME" - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

 

A chilling tale of love set adrift with an equally cool, precise accompaniment, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was the last single recorded by Joy Division, mere months before doomed frontman Ian Curtis committed suicide in May 1980. It's presumed -- perhaps rather hastily -- that the lyrics are autobiographical, an insight into Curtis' fragmenting marriage and his growing relationship with a Belgian girl who followed the band. Whatever the nature of the material, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" functions as an insight into what made Joy Division the most unique band during the era of punk aggression and extremism. Undoubtedly the closest they ever came to a pop song (and subsequently their biggest hit), the single highlights Curtis' fragile ego ("You cry out in your sleep, all my failings expose") and reliance on an often dangerous fatalism ("And we're changing our ways, taking different roads/Then love, love will tear us apart again"). The backing is at mid-tempo pace, propelled by Stephen Morris' mechanistic drumming, Peter Hook's trademarked plaintive bass line, and a wave of haunting synthesizers that echo Curtis' every word on the choruses.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMJvj5cJYHg]Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (best audio) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Bob Marley – Redemption Song

 

One of the few songs in Bob Marley's discography without the characteristic reggae rhythm, the acoustic protest song "Redemption Song" closed the final album released during his lifetime. Echoing several of Marley's favorite themes (empowerment, psychological as well as physical freedom), "Redemption Song" includes surreal yet powerful images reminiscent of Bob Dylan's mid-'60s work. Marley calls up the history of slavery in the first verse with talk of pirates and merchant ships, then applies it to the present day by reminding listeners that "mental slavery" still takes place. Finally, Marley leaves us with the thought, "Won't you help to sing, these songs of freedom/cause all I ever had, redemption songs."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrY9eHkXTa4]Bob Marley - Redemption Song (from the legend album, with lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Echo & the Bunnymen – Rescue

 

Right from guitarist Will Sergeant’s chiming intro, you knew this band was onto something. Along with ”Do It Clean” from Echo and The Bunnymen’s debut, ”Rescue” helped launch this budding Neo-Psychedelic lot from Liverpool onto the U.K. charts. This was a band to watch. The track has an undeniable immediacy, whether it’s the cool hesitation skip beat in the verses or the rousing, hook laden sing-a-long sweep of the chorus, this well arranged song flicks the pop synapse triggers in the brain with maddening frequency. The band draws from home town hero’s The Beatles, while vocalist Ian McCulloch barrows some of Jim Morrison’s woozy delivery but the whole thing is energized by the youthful effervescence that was a vital element of the Post-Punk/New Wave era, cruising on a gurgling bass line, popping drums and flanged guitar jangle. McCulloch’s lyrics are deftly economic, easy to decipher and sing along to, if not incredibly insightful as they take a self-deprecating stance, “If I said / I’d lost my way / Would you sympathize? / Could you sympathize? / I’m jumbled up / Maybe I’m losing my touch / Buy you know I never had it anyway”. The groove flattens out and threatens to become an anthem as McCulloch invites you to “come on down” to his rescue, supported by subtle backing vocals and the deliberate march of the chorus beat. The song opens up somewhat in the last verse, allowing each instrument space for small improvisations (which also strikes of a Doors influence) with counter rhythmic guitar accents and bass flourishes while McCulloch expertly plays with the vocal cadence as he coyly asks, “Is this the blues I’m singing? / Is this the blues I’m singing?” brilliantly building the tension for release in the final chorus. These last lines of the verse and the song title are eventually woven into the last chorus, making for a rousing call and response finale.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-Ztaw9Zc2Y]Echo and the Bunnymen - Rescue - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The Fall – Totally Wired

 

"Totally Wired" is perhaps the most over-caffeinated piece of music ever recorded. This early single from the eccentric British group the Fall typifies the band's early sound with this extremely jumpy twitch of a song. The minimalist approach is the order of the day, the song starting with a thudding beat accented with a ringing tom-tom drum joined only by the caustic rant of singer Mark E. Smith, convincingly stating, "I'm totally wired/T-t-totally wired," in his uniquely odd cadence with the initial syllable of the word "totally" jumping higher. The band responds with a group background shout: "Can't you see?" Other instruments finally enter, a punching bass thumping a single note; the Devo-esque guitar is sparingly applied in mechanical chirps and angular quirks. Smith humorously informs us of the various reasons for his extremely agitated state, some of them chemically enhanced: "I drunk a jar of coffee/And then I took some of these/And I'm totally wired!" The chorus achieves its power by actually pulling instruments back, leaving just the thumping toms and bass guitar, with Smith repeating his mantra, "I'm totally wired!," with variously strange inflections. The band plays the following verses in a kind of jittery holding pattern, allowing Smith to free associate with vague polemics such as, "If I was a communist/A rich man would fail me/The opposite applies," and, "You don't have to be weird to be wired/You don't have to be an American/You don't have to be strange to be strange." The whole spastic exercise finally comes crashing down, jerking to a stop as Smith extols, "And I'm always worried/And I'm always worried." The Fall once earned the dubious moniker of The Crankiest Band in the U.K. "Totally Wired" surely helped the group earn that title. The doctor recommends decaf, but somehow Mark E. Smith's bitter cynicism can seem almost endearing, as he rails his many pronouncements with an offbeat humor cut with an eccentric, dry wit that has earned the band an enduring cult following.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk1TP5EkLS4]The Fall, Totally Wired. - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Killing Joke – Requiem

 

 

Killing Joke open its groundbreaking debut album with the incendiary "Requiem." Like some futuristic red alert, this heavy track begins with a buzzing pulse of keyboard and snarling guitar lines and thudding toms signaling the very soundtrack of impending doom to follow through the course of the record's next 40 minutes. Released as one of the first singles from Killing Joke's self-titled debut, the group begins its exploration of a new musical hybrid, drawing inspiration from an unlikely combination of heavy metal and dance music. The bass and drums lay down a fluid pulsing groove to which singer Jaz Coleman adds his guttural slogans and war cries, bellowing, "Man watching video/The bomb keeps on ticking/He doesn't know why/He's just cattle for slaughter/The requiem," while guitarist Geordie further fuels the cold, apocalyptic atmosphere with biting riffs and brittle shards of rhythmic distortion. The arrangement relies on subtle dynamics with few chord changes, propelled by vocal dropouts and echo effects and guitars filling in between verses. Drummer Paul Ferguson uses building tom fills cracked by sharp cymbal bursts while the music rumbles forward like some weighty yet agile doomsday machine. Certainly, tracks like "Requiem" as well as many others found on the record would go on to inspire the likes of Ministry and later Nine Inch Nails in creating a new, industrialized, and decidedly darker form of dance music.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7WPI4TJImo]Killing Joke- Requiem - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

U2 – I Will Follow

 

 

Ubiquitous at college radio, nightclubs, and independent records stores, with "I Will Follow," U2 caught the attention of the music underground en masse in 1980. As the opening track to its debut album, Boy, and also its debut single, the success of "I Will Follow" was U2's calling card until its career took off for even greater heights later in the decade. Lore immediately developed around the song and the then-new Irish group's mystery: Was it a call by a Christian rock band to follow Jesus? Evidence to support the idea was held in lines like "I was lost, now I'm found," and in U2's openness about its spirituality. Yet this didn't deter the fickle and quirky underground nor the mainstream from embracing U2 -- in fact, quite the opposite. From the band's first American club appearances (at which they played "I Will Follow" twice a night), U2's music and Bono's charisma worked fans into an idol-worshiping frenzy. "I Will Follow" fades in to the sound of beating drums, but it's the Edge's choppy guitar sound which marks its official beginning. He treats the jangle, or ringing guitar style in a colder, more Euro-rock way than his stateside contemporaries who had yet to debut (R.E.M., Dream Syndicate, Replacements), but "I Will Follow" foreshadowed shades of that jangle to come. Soon, the smarmy leaders of the American guitar rock revival would forge their own guitar-centric sounds as they also found ways to work everybody's favorite song of 1980 into their own sets: Parody or homage, it was the ultimate, underground salute to the still-forming big sound of U2.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb2DM50Elm8]U2 I will follow (with lyric) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1981:

 

 

 

10. Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure

 

 

Memorably (for some) reinterpreted after ten years after the fact as Vanilla Ice's breakout single "Ice Ice Baby," "Under Pressure" found two contemporaries -- David Bowie and Queen -- collaborating for the first and only time on a great one-off single. Bowie himself feels more like the guest on the song, understandable given that it's Queen providing the musical backing, mixing the Chic-reminiscent bassline of John Deacon with piano and a lovely Brian May guitar melody. In ways the song is almost a reworking of "Bohemian Rhapsody," with a steady opening followed by a slightly different midsong break and then a final explosive ending, though with less tempo changes and a more focused approach. Freddie Mercury handles the higher vocals in his own inimitable way, delivering some classically bravura moments, while Bowie tackles the lower register to provide the perfect balance. Anthemic, showy and warm-hearted, it's a clear standout for both acts.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWdLt3Afjrg]Queen - Under Pressure (Lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. Rick James – Super Freak

 

Many music critics sneered when Rick James dubbed his sound "punk-funk" but there was an element of truth in it: like Prince and George Clinton, James showed no hesitating at adding edgy rock and new wave elements into his stew of funk and jazz stylings. His most successful cross-breeding experiment was "Super Freak," a new wave-tinged funk classic that became his biggest and most influential hit. Like many a Rick James song, the lyrics of "Super Freak" are obsessed with amorous concerns as they pay tribute to the kind of girl most mothers warn their sons about: "She’s a very kinky girl/The kind you don’t take home to mother/And she will never let your spirits down/Once you get her off the street." The music is surprisingly complex for what is essentially a soul-tinged pop song, combining a swinging verse melody with a lengthy bridge that builds from staccato call-and-response chants to gospel-inflected heights and a stomping, thoroughly exuberant chorus. Rick James’ recording of "Super Freak" keeps this complicated tune on course with a punchy arrangement that maintains maximum drive: the rhythm section punches out an infectious groove that bounces high and low while James engages in dueling vocals with a group of backup vocalists that includes the Temptations. This arrangement also throws in plenty of extra hooks that add color without distracting from the song’s flow, including Devo-styled synth drones and the dynamic saxophone solo from Daniel LeMelle that finishes the song on a high note. All these elements added up to a song that had funky grooves to spare but had an edgy sense of humor and electronic edge that made it as new wave as it was R&B. As a result, "Super Freak" became a major crossover hit that went top-five on the soul charts and top-20 on the pop charts.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGe1z8G-rRk]super freak rick james ( lyrics ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. The Human League – Don’t You Want Me

 

"Don't You Want Me" is the single that finally brought new wave to the top of the U.S. singles chart, only four or five years after it gripped the U.K. Where earlier hits like Gary Numan's "Cars" had laid the groundwork, "Don't You Want Me" was different, in that it really wasn't different at all: in all ways, it's a conventionally structured pop song, a danceable tune with a great chorus that just happens to be played entirely on synthesizers. In this context, the leap from "Don't You Want Me" backward to obvious antecedents like Giorgio Moroder's collaborations with Donna Summer isn't very big at all.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDKsk9oTOPc]The HUMAN LEAGUE - DON'T YOU WANT ME - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. The Specials – Ghost Town

 

No song better captured the mood of the day than this June, 1981 single. Much of More Specials had pushed towards "Ghost Town's haunting atmospheres, but it's here they reached fruition. From the eerie wind that blows across the intro to the gothesque melody bleeding out of Jerry Dammers' keyboard, through the wordless chorus that evokes spirits crying in the ether, The Specials conjured up the darkest of milieus. The image it offers is one of pure desolation and utter barrenness, the empty streets whipped by deadly breezes, while ghostly images momentarily shimmer brightly, cruel reminders of happier days before the holocaust struck. The lyrics only brush on the causes for this apocalyptic vision - the closed down clubs, the numerous fights on the dancefloor, the spiraling unemployment, the anger building to explosive levels. But so embedded were these in the British psyche, that Dammers needed only a minimum of words to paint his picture, leaving Lynval Goldings' music to fill in the empty spaces.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqZ8428GSrI]The Specials - Ghost Town - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Ultravox – Vienna

 

For listeners of a certain age, the line "This means nothing to me, oh Vienna," has the same resonance as "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," did to an earlier generation. The title track to Ultravox's fourth album (Midge Ure's first with the band), "Vienna"'s arrival in 1981 was met with astonishment and, from some quarters, even stunned disbelief.This epic was not merely unlike anything the group had ever attempted previously (although it was, to a certain extent, foreshadowed by "Hiroshima Mon Amour", it was entirely unlike anything any band had attempted. "We wanted to take the song and make it incredibly pompous in the middle, leaving it very sparse before and after, but finishing with a typically over-the top classical ending," Ure explained. "The whole thing was a bit tongue in cheek." Most listeners missed the joke, concentrating open-mouthed instead upon the song's sense of grandeur and glamor, its yearning for love lost and, by extension for a lost world and the nostalgia of the fallen empire that the accompanying video so exquisitely invoked - all of which made a nonsense of Ure's claims. In fact, "Vienna" was the apotheosis of all the New Romantics held dear: the romance found in the lush waltz in its center, the melancholy that rippled through its milieu, the feeling of isolation implicit in its minimalist opening and, indeed, its very opulence and pretentiousness, all were the leitmotif of the movement. No song better skewered the genre's fascination with a long decayed past.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U-NHTW2-Ps]Vienna - Ultravox - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. Soft Cell – Tainted Love

 

Inescapable. That's the only way to describe this song's impact in the early '80s, and for Marc Almond in particular it was the burden that never quite escaped him in America, the U.K., and elsewhere. But it was ultimately the kind of problem one wanted to have, because in under three minutes Almond and Dave Ball, with the production help of Mike Thorne and the model of Gloria Jones' excellent soul cover to draw on, transformed Ed Cobb's obscure nugget into an era-defining pop monster. More than anything else, "Tainted Love" completely showed up the stereotype of passionless robot synth music as what it was -- this was alive, desperate, emotionally wracked, with nary a guitar or real drumkit in sight. The perfect piercing lead synth notes and Syndrum hits are a masterpiece of arranging, immediate and catching, but it's Almond's high, almost nasally but still just plain wrenching delivery of the lyric of escape from an emotional catastrophe that just nails it. Just the way he delivers the swooping kiss off "Take my tears and that's not nearly ALL!" alone is some kind of inspired genius -- and he plays off his own backing vocals just as wonderfully.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPShQQZBf2U]Tainted love Soft cell lyrics - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Kraftwerk – Computer Love

 

Computer World is a concept record dealing with the rise of computers in our life and their roles in commerce, transportation, entertainment, and personal relationships. Its sparseness, its lyrics, and its lead synth melody all evoke loneliness and sadness, which is pretty remarkable coming from a band that has spent the past 40 years trying to sound as robotic and emotionless as possible.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtWTUt2RZh0]Kraftwerk - Computer Love - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. The Gun Club – Sex Beat

 

"Sex Beat" was probably Gun Club's most straightforward punk rock song; most of their 1981 debut record, Fire of Love, was rooted firmly in Delta and country-blues traditions, revved up with hardcore punk energy to something like psychobilly. But the boys always sound as if they are loose cannons. It is just that on "Sex Beat," the record's opening number, they sound like a fiery urban punk band as opposed to the loose-cannon, voodoo-possessed country boys of their other Fire of Love songs. But while that blues/country-punk sound helped to distinguish them, the single "Sex Beat" established Gun Club as significant players from the early-'80s Los Angeles underground. Like the rest of the record, there is an eerie, nocturnal malevolence that envelops "Sex Beat"; the atmosphere is something akin to those early Elvis Presley Sun and other rockabilly recordings, a vibe that undoubtedly has something to do with the use of echo and reverb in the recording -- even though "Sex Beat" does not use the specific sound of slap-back tape echo found on those early rock & roll records. The raw garage rock sounds are classic; musically "Sex Beat" sounds as if it could have been spawned in the late-'50s south, a mid-/late-'60s suburban garage, or '90s Seattle. The dark, four-chord verse sequence and Jeffery Lee Pierce's full-tilt vocals and lusty lyrics certainly bring to mind Iggy Pop and the Stooges: "And every day at three you throw me down by the Christmas tree/I watched your lights blink on and off while you start your fun with me/I, I know your reasons and I, I know your goals/We can fuck forever but you will never get my soul." Though the song is a bit of an anomaly from the rest of the album musically -- and it really is not that much of a departure, just a bit more directly punk rock -- Pierce's richly evocative lyrics are nonetheless in line with his favorite themes: passion, possession, addiction, religion, lust, and desperation: "And yes you do look cool and by the floodlights so blue/You make my tropical apartment bed, your sacrificial pool/My body in the water and my heart is in your hand/So this is the way you choose to send me to the judgment land." While Gun Club was part of a pack of roots-informed punk bands spawned from the early-'80s L.A. underground -- many of them finding a home on Slash records -- the slide guitars of Ward Dotson and, later, Kid Congo Powers, and Pierce's singular vocal style are what separated the band from their peers. Pierce possessed an unearthly howl, a breathless, high-register voice that made him sound desperate and urgent at all times. The visceral sexual drive of the music of "Sex Beat" is matched by the singer's insistent delivery.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DheFFTmuyu4]The Gun Club Sex Beat (HQ) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe

 

With more distorted guitars, this song could be a straight-up punk rock number. Instead, the driving clean electric guitar textures offered a new and enigmatic sound in 1981. Picking licks from chords (as opposed to strumming), guitarist Peter Buck harkens back to the 1960s folk-rock of the Byrds, but the insistent rhythms and urgency of the track has more to do with punk rock than the rock & roll traditionalism of other Byrds-inspired roots-rockers like Tom Petty. The track sounded unlike anything else at the time and is still absolutely fresh more than 20 years after the fact. The song's bridge, in particular, does what any good bridge should do: It takes the already infectious and insistent song to a higher plane and an even more majestic climax, with new and interesting sounds -- like a low-octave piano doubling the bass line and cool stereo percussion effects -- before dynamically calming the tone, only to build it back up again, finishing with the fight-song fervor of the chorus. Michael Stipe's lyrics are characteristically -- for this early stage of the band's history -- oblique. His enigmatic stream-of-consciousness word combinations seem to employ the William Burroughs cut-up technique: "Deal the porch is leading us absurd (?)." The surreal lyrics are peppered with blurred political phrases that are also open to non-political interpretation: "This isn't country"; "put that up your wall"; "straight to the hull"; "pushing palaces to fall"; and "Radio Free Europe" itself, the shortwave radio station that was the United States propaganda tool behind the Iron Curtain. "Radio Free Europe" has to be one of the rare cases in rock & roll, along with "Louis, Louis," where a song becomes a sort-of anthem for an enthusiastic audience who has little idea of what is actually being sung -- the vocals mumbled and buried in the mix most of the time -- much less understand the meaning or intent of the words. But it does not matter; the melody and few caught phrases are enough to draw the listener in. The "Calling out in transit/Calling out in transit/Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Europe" of the chorus just sounds anthemic and ripe for singing along. The single pricked up the ears of many fans of underground music looking for a true alternative to the blandly commercial acts of the era. It was an auspicious beginning for one of the most popular bands of the next 20 years.

 

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXUkddrnsXQ]R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. New Order – Ceremony

 

The debut New Order single was actually one of the last songs written by Joy Division and sounds it, not least because of Martin Hannett's production and the tense, strong energy that that band made legendary. However, like "Love Will Tear Us Apart," it also showed a new warmth and spirit, a sense that while the frustrations of connection still dominated Ian Curtis's lyrics, a more optimistic surge of energy carried all before it in the end. Peter Hook's bass sounds less ominous and more like a promise of a new beginning, Bernard Sumner's lead guitar riff a recharged way to brighter visions. Sumner's singing is restrained and still very much in Curtis's vein, unsurprising for someone who never expected to be the vocalist, but effective nonetheless, with the wounded, gently human edge that would become his own calling card already starting to appear. As a valedictory moment to what was past and as its own effort, "Ceremony" is a beauty.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVdheR0bUwI]New Order - Ceremony - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

The Cure – Charlotte Sometimes

 

Assumed wrongly by Polydor that this would be the Cure's first big hit, "Charlotte Sometimes" (recorded July 1981, released October 1981) was a single-only release (not appearing on a full-length until 1986's Staring at the Sea collection) that was more of its time than any other Cure single of the early '80s. A repetitive bassline coupled with gloomy keyboards and dryly produced drumming, "Charlotte Sometimes" was based lyrically on a children's book that Robert Smith was a fan of. What makes the tune notable (besides the downright embarrassing video) is its almost stereotypical gothiness, which the Cure never really saddled themselves with before this. While they had been merchants of gloom and doom extraordinaire for two previous albums, they never sounded so, well, maudlin. It has since become a fan favorite, and in the big picture fits in well between Faith and Pornography.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_defwv03IfQ]the cure-charlotte sometimes - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The dB’s – Black and White

 

"Black and White," the leadoff track to the dB's debut album Stands for Decibels, is the kind of pure pop that when combined with the hyper-tension of new wave would immediately associate the band with several jangle pop groups of the period, such as the Records, the Plimsouls and the Bongos, though the dB's would prove to have a longer-lasting influence than any of these skinny tie-wearing outfits. Commercially, the song suffered from being delegated to import status, as the dB's were signed to the fledgling U.K. label Albion, which had trouble licensing the record for American distribution and subsequently went unpromoted at radio and only received sporadic play from adventurous college DJ's who had managed to unearth the album from the import bin at their local record shop. Apart from the tracks super-kinetic pace, the most striking first impression is the extraordinarily high vocal of Peter Holsapple. As the rhythm section of Will Rigby(drums) and Gene Holder(bass) keep time with several jittery build-and-release sections, guitarist Chris Stamey supplies chiming melodic guitar licks while Holsapple keeps the genre identifying "jangle" from going on acoustic. But it's Holsapple's little boy shout that rings clear over the entire track as he gives an impassioned delivery, even while singing of innocent boy/girl squabbles that are the stuff of schoolyard crushes, "I, I never would hurt you / Even if I did you, you never would tell me/Oh, oh, we are finished/As of a long time ago/As of a long time ago/I have stopped." As if on command, the band stops on a dime before shooting into the chorus, where the vocal is elongated by the band's trademark use of slightly skewed harmonies as he proclaims, "I don't enjoy you anymore/Well, I guess I just don't enjoy you anymore" in a well-mannered kiss-off that was typical of the polite, self-deprecating form of rock that was a large part of the band's charm, and the sort of sentiment that would offend the harder sensibilities of the punk rock crowd.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWN-adiDNtM]The dB's - Black and White - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Souvenir

 

"Souvenir" wasn't the first song that Paul Humphreys composed on his own, nor the first upon which he handled the lead vocal – that honor descends upon "Promise", from OMD's Organization album. It was however, his first 45 and, in emerging so far removed from virtually all the band's previous work, it proved to be a turning point in the evolution of the group's sound. There's an exquisite lightness to "Souvenir", with the delicate melody reflected in Humphreys's own fragile, sensitive tones. Yet for all of the number's ethereal qualities (and there are many, particularly in the evocative chorale vocals that shimmer behind the vocal), the strength of the keyboards keeps the number from drifting into evanescence.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWCaRE89HRw]Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Souvenir - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Spellbound

 

The charging, acoustic guitar-led "Spellbound" was a pivotal single in Siouxsie and the Banshees' career. After early, clangorous singles like "Hong Kong Garden" and "Metal Postcard," personnel instability and a changing musical climate made Siouxsie and the Banshees seem kind of tired and beside the point. However, "Spellbound" leads off 1981's revitalized Juju with a new, cleaner sounding and much more direct - even poppy! - melodic bent. Soon to depart guitarist John McGeoch spurs the tune forward in tandem with Budgie's galloping drums, especially in the almost strident choruses, the martial quality of which Siouxsie Sioux tempers with a newfound sense of melodic delicacy in her vocals, which she would continue to explore throughout the rest of the band's career. Kinetic, memorable and exciting, "Spellbound" gives notice that Siouxsie and the Banshees had outgrown their dreary post-punk past.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2pVP7Zjma8]Siouxsie and the Banshees - Spellbound (Lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Wipers – Youth of America

 

 

"Youth of America" is the title track from the Wipers' brooding second LP. Clocking in at over ten minutes, this behemoth of a track is an ambitious closer to an impressively original album. "Youth of America" is a sprawling recording of epic proportions with thin layers of dense noise and feedback. Greg Sage claims the song was inspired by a futuristic dream he had: "This dream had such a sense of realism and intensity to it that I went overboard with the recording to symbolize it. There are about 50 guitars in some parts." The song structure seems closer to that of a modal jazz composition, kicking off with a short, melodic theme, then venturing into extended solo variations, and returning to the original theme at song's end. Sage says the length was also a reaction to the absurdly brief hardcore punk recordings that were in vogue at the time: "At the time of this recording, it was the trend that most songs by bands were very fast and short, to the point that some were doing songs as short as 13 seconds or so. Well, I had to do the opposite." The lyrics deal with the general alienation of the nation's youth and a plea for action, sung with harrowing desperation: "Youth of America/It's living in the jungle/Fightin' for survival, but there's no place to go." The atmosphere is more hopeful during the repeated refrain of the chorus: "It is time we rectify this now/We've got to feel it now/Got to see it now, now, now." The music then takes over, descending into an extended freakout. A myriad of guitars create an otherworldly soundscape with layers of feedback, while the bass and drums form a droning undercurrent, doggedly pounding out a hypnotically simple two-chord progression. Eventually the storm subsides, as a spoken lament is issued in somber, low tones: "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer/To me there is no place left to go/Got to get out of this world/Do you want to be born here again?/I don't want to be born here again/'Cause this ain't no existence/Can't wait much longer." All does not remain "doom and gloom" as the music returns to the opening theme, with the clouds lifting and guitars again soaring. Sage implores with conviction, "Youth of America/Youth of America/You! You! You!," repeating the "you" as if in an attempt to connect with each of the disenfranchised kids of the world individually. In between each of these repeated lines, inaudible at first, then slowly gaining in courage and volume, is inserted the heartfelt, bald statement, "I believe in you," as the music slowly fades away. "Youth of America" is truly a peerless, fiercely original piece of music, the result of the D.I.Y. punk philosophy taken to the extreme. Sage even made his own records on professional cutting lathe in grade school, citing this as an important catalyst: "The sight of the music in these grooves seemed magical. Like a fingerprint, each sound had its own unique pattern. At the time, it seemed like fine art to me and what really inspired me to play music was the desire to paint my own pictures into the grooves of a record."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaUzYISKKAI]Youth Of America - The Wipers (1981) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1982:

 

 

 

10. Tears for Fears – Mad World

 

 

Produced by Chris Hughes, a former drummer with Adam and the Ants, the song established the band as astute, pensive, and musically savvy, led by the tight partnership of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. "Mad World" harbored a left-of-center type quality in both its lyrics and its doubled melody, straying ever so slightly from the pop norm at the time. Not only does the song demonstrate the band's musical affluence in its early stages, but "Mad World" reeled in other audience types with its unconventional style and next-to-new wave push. "Mad World," as well as the rest of The Hurting, was a precursor to bigger and better things, namely 1985's Songs From the Big Chair. Even though The Hurting was left behind with the success of Big Chair, the songs that come from it, especially "Mad World," glisten with amateur edginess and semi-undergroud attractiveness.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gFl2OXySs8]Tears for Fears - Mad World - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing

 

For some artists (especially those who began singing in church), pop music has always had a conflicting veneer: the flesh versus the spirit. Some of those who wrestled with this conundrum are Little Richard, Al Green, Prince, and Marvin Gaye. "Sexual Healing" is a prime example of the Motown legend's feelings about the paradox. By the '80s, Gaye wanted out of his Motown contract while living in Europe as a tax exile. Gaye's lawyer told CBS Records' Larkin Arnold that the singer was shopping for a new deal. It cost CBS two million dollars to have Motown release Gaye from his contractual obligations and Gaye signed with CBS in February 1981. Author David Ritz was visiting Gaye in Belgium to begin writing the singer's autobiography when he came across a pornographic magazine and he quipped that the singer needed "sexual healing." Adding music ideas from Odell Brown, Gaye at first tried to record the track with European musicians. Not getting the feel he wanted, Gaye opted instead to play all the music himself. "Sexual Healing" stayed at number one R&B for ten weeks and went to number three pop in fall 1982.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVpzSaNpErY]Marvin Gaye Sexual Healing - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. The Cure – One Hundred Years

 

It can be pretty safely assumed any song beginning with the words "It doesn't matter if we all die" isn't going to be about fluffy bunnies in the park. Admittedly if this was late-'80s Cure, one couldn't be so sure, but this comes from that band's monument to strung-out, freaked-out, and amped-up black depression, Pornography. The lead-off track to the album, shuddering to life with a combined live/drum machine percussion assault, it fully kicks in with a searing guitar line from Robert Smith, chiming and crying like a dark siren. Simon Gallup's bass and Lol Tolhurst's rhythm work pump up the doomy energy, avoiding the stereotype of gloom by roaring down to the end throughout its length, fragile keyboards adding to the overall air of rampant psychosis. As for Smith's lyrics, the initial kicker is further fed by a series of disturbing images of death, chaos, abuse, and more besides, his aching voice rarely so appropriate as on this track, right up to the wracked delivery of the title as a conclusion.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fA_pTaXBT8]The Cure - One Hundred Years - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. The Chameleons – In Shreds

 

The Chameleons were at the forefront of the early-'80s post-punk movement, helping a generation bridge the gap between first-wave punk's anger and the nitro-loaded shenanigans of the new wave. 1982's "In Shreds," released as a one-off single for Epic in the U.K., is the perfect example of an urgent, often vitriolic, style that would later give way not only to angsty, indie guitar bands, but also to a million raincoated shoegazers. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, and driven by massive percussion which beats through the body, it was really Mark Burgess' vocals, biting and clipped through clenched teeth, that pushed the point. The sonic personification of the ugly transition from child to adult, "In Shreds became an anti-punk anthem for a dislodged me generation. Whereas punk had railed against the actions of the outside, the Chameleons turned it all inward to nurture the quasi-nihilistic fantasies of the black-clad ego: "I suddenly knew that my life meant nothing at all." In hindsight, perhaps, it's a little over the top, but to a million children undergoing the process, it was nearly the word of God. A permanent live showstopper, "In Shreds was ballsier than anything else the Chameleons ever recorded, and is a seminal reminder that post-punk wasn't just a name for a genre. It was first and foremost a state of mind, a lifestyle, and the perfect state of grace.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH_p1tbnWAA]The Chameleons - In Shreds - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Echo & the Bunnymen – The Back of Love

 

”The Back Of Love” is classic Echo and The Bunnymen in their prime, containing all the elements that made them one of the premier bands of Neo-psychedelic era during the early 80’s. Along with ”The Cutter” it’s one of the tracks that help propel the group’s third album, Porcupine to the #2 spot on the U.K. charts in 1983. The track has a relentless, loping rhythm that immediately gets the hooks in, right from the chiming guitar, arpeggio bass line and polyrhythmic pounding tom tom canter, the stage is set for singer Ian McCulloch emphatic croon. McCulloch seems truly perturbed as he gets some great lines off his chest, “I’m on the chopping block / Chopping off my stopping thought / Self doubt and self-ism were the cheapest things I’ve ever bought”. The music builds brilliantly to a rising chorus, twisting the tension as McCulloch voice slyly switches from moaning plea to outright indignation within the few short lines, “When you say that’s love / Do you mean the back of love?” and “We’re taking advantage of / Breaking the back of love!” For such a busy track, the arrangement is a wonder of musical economy. Somehow, in the songs short three minute running time, the arrangement finds time for a few brief, psychedelic inspired breaks, with McCulloch dispensing watery stuttering beneath simulated synth strings and staccato drums, all without loosing precious momentum. ”Back of Love” is a sound bit of early ‘80’s Brit-pop indeed, capturing the ambitious nature of the period at it’s best.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3j97Rbuhgg]ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN - THE BACK OF LOVE - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. Kate Bush – Suspended in Gaffa

 

"Suspended in Gaffa" is a song recorded by Kate Bush. It was the third single release from her album The Dreaming in Europe (but not in the UK where "There Goes a Tenner" was released instead). The song lyrics are about seeing something one really wants (God in this case), then not being able to see or experience it ever again. The "gaffa" of the title and chorus refers to gaffer tape, the strong matte black tape used by technicians in the film and concert industries.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lr2acDdfbvY]Suspended In Gaffa - Kate Bush - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Bruce Springsteen – Atlantic City

 

Bruce Springsteen's tale about New Jersey's gambling problems, the underhandedness of revenging loan sharks, and the seep of corruption and immorality that infiltrated Atlantic City was never released as single, nor were any of the tracks off 1982's Nebraska. The album would prove to be some of Springsteen's darkest recordings, sung into a lone tape recorder with a solely acoustic backdrop, which in turn added to the album's somberness. With the harmonica and guitar sounding like they're his only friends, "Atlantic City" has Springsteen playing the desperate character once again, stooping as low as the hoodlums he despises by doing "a little favor for them" so he can free himself of debt and run away from his dismal lifestyle. With escapism personified in the form of his girlfriend, Springsteen's song sounds woefully effective, with hints of Bob Dylan cropping up in the vocals, the harmonica, and even in the guitar. The bleakness is front and center, and the song's mood never fades from disparaging because it was never intended to, a skill of Springsteen's that was mastered on his Darkness on the Edge of Town album four years earlier. Just like "Atlantic City," Nebraska instills a harrowing, almost pitiful feel to its makeup, but it's this song that seems to score the deepest impression.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-LIEr43_wk]Bruce Springsteen-Atlantic City - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message

 

"The Message" is a song by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It was released as a single by Sugar Hill Records on July 1, 1982 and was later featured on the group's first studio album, The Message. "The Message" was the first prominent hip hop song to provide a lyrical social commentary. It took rap music from the house parties to the social platforms later developed by groups like Public Enemy,N.W.A., and Rage Against The Machine. In addition to being widely regarded as an all-time rap anthem, "The Message" has been credited by many critics as the song that catapulted emcees from the background to the forefront of Hip-Hop. Thus, shifting the focus from the mixing and scratching of the grandmaster as the star, to the thoughts and lyrics of the emcee playing the star role. David Hickley wrote in 2004 that ""The Message" also crystallized a critical shift within rap itself. It confirmed that emcees, or rappers, had vaulted past the deejays as the stars of the music".

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6_WZ3qMPs0]The Message - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five featuing Melle Mel & Duke Bootee (1982) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Michael Jackson – Billie Jean

 

Quincy Jones had objections to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." The veteran composer/arranger/producer thought that the title would be confusing, leading listeners to think that the title referred to pro tennis player Billie Jean King. It was suggested that the title be changed to "Not My Lover." Actually, the song's title character was based on all the women who'd brought maternity suits against Jackson and his brothers when they were known as the Jackson 5. The session list for "Billie Jean" listed drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Brothers Johnson bassist Louis Johnson, Michael Boddicker on the Emu Emulator sampling keyboard, and synth players Greg Phillinganes, Bill Wolfer, and Greg Smith. Tom Scott blows an interwoven lyricon line throughout the track. As the follow-up to "The Girl Is Mine," the first single from Thriller, "Billie Jean" sold more than two million copies, staying at number one R&B for nine weeks and number one pop for seven weeks in early 1983. Who can forget Jackson's sensational performance of the song during the May 1983 NBC broadcast of the Motown 25 special which boasted the first public showing of his gravity-defying moonwalk dance? Or the song's stylish, trend-setting music video. Ironically around the time of "Billie Jean"'s release, Jackson was slapped with a paternity suit.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75sx7U6dAB4]Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (With Lyrics + HQ Sound) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. New Order – Temptation

 

Here is an early example of New Order's pop songwriting prowess. Released as a single in 1982, "Temptation" hints at what was to come on their 1983 LP Power, Corruption & Lies and subsequent albums. Rebuilt from the debris of Joy Division after the band was devastated by the suicide of leader Ian Curtis, New Order released its debut LP, Movement, in 1981, which did little for the band in terms of establishing itself as a wholly different project than its predecessor. But in 1982 they released the positively ebullient pop burst "Temptation," a song that showcased a new focus on melodicism, sonic texture, and pop sensibilities. The music of Joy Division was beautiful, but it was a stark, sullen sort of beauty. While New Order continued on an introspective track, even their saddest songs glimmered with more hope than most of Curtis' bleak and fatalistic pronouncements like "Love Will Tear Us Apart." On "Temptation," New Order sounds like Up With People comparatively. Though clearly taking steps away from their past, New Order keeps some of the elements of the former band's sound. Drummer Stephen Morris in particular plays a familiar beat, albeit one at a decidedly more jaunty tempo than on most Joy Division tracks. And the rest of the band falls in accordingly: vocalist/guitarist Bernard Sumner rains down sheets of guitar; bassist Peter Hook adds his sinuous bass, almost a reinvention of the instrument as a melodic counterpoint rather than providing the bottom register of the music; and the only member added to the remaining members of the former band, keyboardist Gillian Gilbert provides modern synthesizer textures. Morris does vary his drumming a bit in his trying to keep up with the 16th-note movement in Gilbert's Giorgio Moroder-like sequencer patterns. Thus, the drummer ends up playing something akin to rhythms found in mid- to late-'70s disco and underground New York dance music. It is a technique he would refine on the Power, Corruption & Lies album. The end product sounds like Joy Division meets Donna Summer with a bit of the tunefulness of the Cure thrown in. Sumner's lyrics match the enthusiastic tone of the music with an ultimately uplifting feeling of triumph after a romantic breakup. After the music fades in, the singer is heard phonetically singing one of the song's hooks in a falsetto. Then the verse: "A heaven I'd get with a hope/Just like the feeling inside, it's no joke/And though it hurts me to treat you this way/Betrayed my words, I'd never heard, too hard to say/Up, down, turn around/Please don't let me hit the ground/Tonight I think I'll walk alone I'll find my soul as I go home." Another of the song's major hooks comes in the way of the songs coda: "Oh, you've got green eyes/Oh, you've got blue eyes/Oh, you've got grey eyes/And I've never seen anyone quite like you before/No, I've never met anyone quite like you before," an infectious singalong chorus. This would have been a shock to the band's old fans; Joy Division was not known for singalongs.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJwebMdJ58c]New Order - Temptation - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Dexys Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen

 

Out of the context of the revivalist Irish soul of Too-Rye-Ay, "Come On Eileen" sounded less like the work of Van Morrison's bastard children and more like the most gloriously gimmicky pop single of late 1982. (The silly street urchin look, which Kevin Rowland later admitted he stole outright from former Dexy's co-head Kevin Archer just after Archer left the band, certainly didn't help stifle this view of song and band.) As soulful and festively Celtic as the rest of the rather brooding Too-Rye-Ay, but armed with a cheerful and gay melodic hook courtesy of the band's new fiddle section and the sort of chorus you can start singing along to almost before you've heard it the first time (not to mention a cheerfully smutty lyric about that special time in a young boy's life when he realizes he wants to shag his best mate), it's as undeniable a pop single as the earlier Dexy's masterpiece "There There My Dear." The problem is that in the UK, the change in direction cemented Rowland's persona as something of a chameleon, ready to change his look and sound any second, and in the US, where the band were almost entirely unknown, it pegged them as one hit wonders, which became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzKfnCxil2o]come on eileen ( dexy's midnight runners) - the perks of being a wallflower soundtrack - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Modern English – I Melt With You

 

"I Melt With You" was never a Top Ten or even a Top 40 hit -- it peaked at number 76 in July 1990 -- but it's one of the most recognized songs of the new wave era. Originally released in the U.K. in 1982, the song was a minor hit in the U.S. in the spring and summer of 1983 -- thanks, in part, to being the love theme of the cult hit Valley Girl. (It was used in the mid-movie montage as well as over the end credits.) The song's strummy up-tempo beat, vocalist Robbie Grey's English drawl, and the ultimately positive, us-against-the world chorus made the tune a hit in dance clubs and on pop radio. In 1989, Modern English slightly revamped the song and re-released it, but it again failed to crack the Top 40. Several years later, the track was used in a Burger King TV ad in an attempt to attract the Gen-X market. Despite the fact that it never broke through to mainstream success, "I Melt With You" endures as a watermark for 1980s optimism and sentimentality, and as a classic pop song that never quite got the accolades it deserved.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG-3XqcXbbE]I Melt with You - Modern English (1982) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Japan – Ghosts

 

”Ghosts”, the second single from the band’s 1981 art-house monster, Tin Drum, never even cracked a boo in the United States, but it effortlessly haunted the UK Top 5, and helped, alongside album-mates ”Canton” and ”Vision of China”, to revolutionize the new wave’s burgeoning fascination with Asian tinged glam, stiltedly un-PC Orientalism and electronic whiz-jinkery. But, still, what ultimately emerged was a haunting cavalcade of empty spaces and turned corners, punctuated and illuminated by the strong points of singer David Sylvian’s spare notes and Richard Barbieri’s moody keyboards. By 1981, Japan were hipper than almost any of the other synth-wannabes that now hovered moth-like on their tremulous coattails, and ”Ghosts” only served to further propel the band into the light, pushing the envelope even further and proving that such studied, and astute dilettantism was more than just a fashion accessory; worn correctly it was a new way of sonic fulfilment.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOW4-oWnDPw]Japan Ghosts - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang

 

After the drug-related deaths of guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon, many simply wrote off the Pretenders, but Chrissie Hynde never seemed to consider quitting. The late-1982 release of the reflective "Back on the Chain Gang" (as a stand-alone single, still a common practice in the U.K. at the time, but a rarity for a U.S. release) seemed to serve both as a resigned farewell to loved ones and a restatement of purpose. Temporarily drafting ex-Rockpile guitarist Billy Bremner andPete Townshend sideman Tony Butler (soon to join Big Country) as Honeyman-Scott and Farndon's replacements, Hynde wrote an achingly emotional set of lyrics set to an elegantly restrained melody that kept the sentiments from descending into mawkishness. The gloriously jangly guitars of the mature but still rocking arrangement also set the mood for the next phase of the Pretenders' career, the confessional Learning to Crawl album that was still over a year from completion.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzWNY1zwrjY]The Pretenders - Back On The Chain Gang (Remastered) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Roxy Music – More Than This

 

 

The swaths of synths and washes of keyboards merge into a modern-day (1982) wall of sound on "More Than This" that borders on new age. Yet Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, even at their most accessible and synth poppy, manage not to overdo it; Rhett Davies's production is lush and smooth, but not benignly so. Though, Brian Eno might disagree. Still, the melody is undeniably gorgeous, and Ferry has always been a compelling singer with a distinctive voice; he sounded unlike anyone else on the radio at the time, his voice more reminiscent of old-time jazz-age singers and post-war tenors like Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots and Tony Williams of the Platters. Indeed, the romantic and flighty tune reminds one of old torch songs. And it is unquestionably a love song, albeit one with an air of Zen appreciation for life's impermanence: "I could feel at the time/There was no way of knowing/Fallen leaves in the night/Who can say where they're blowing/As free as the wind/And hopefully learning/Why the sea on the tide/Has no way of turning/More than this -- there is nothing." As pleasing as the verse melody is, the chorus is even more effective; the verse flitters in the firmament but the chorus sounds like a sigh, if not a cry, sloping downward mournfully. Phil Manzanera punctuates his partner's vocal lines with a singular staccato guitar style, favoring muted single-string lines over full chords. Andy MacKay's sax floats in and out of the mix, swimming in the smooth reverb. Andy Newmark never wavers from his steady drum beat.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9PAuWV-Vn0]Roxy Music - More Than This (High Audio Quality) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1983:

 

 

 

10. R.E.M. – Talk About the Passion

 

 

This song is as indicative as any of the early R.E.M. sound: a folky blend of acoustic and chiming electric guitars from Peter Buck; a rich-voiced recitation of oblique lyrics from Michael Stipe; a counterpoint backing vocal and clean bass line from Mike Mills; and understated, almost buried drumming by Bill Berry. As their name indicates, R.E.M. explored the realm of the subconscious; the music and lyrical content of "Talk About the Passion" is as dreamy as almost any of their songs from this period. Michael Stipe sings a mix of English and French lyrics with a vaguely religious commentary: "Empty prayer, empty mouths, talk about the passion/Not everyone can carry the weight of the world...combien du temps?" In a few simple lines, repeated folk-song style, Stipe manages to conjure up a few different layers of meaning, which can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The very idea of talking about any sort of passion, especially the religious sort -- the Passion of Christ, and/or deeply held religious beliefs -- conveying such ardor, is almost impossible and ultimately incomplete and insufficient, as is the case with writing about music. And Stipe's few lines go further, indicting those who talk the talk with religion, but do not live it. For years Stipe would not print or discuss his lyrics in detail, wisely leaving them as open as possible to all, equally valid interpretations. Buck's arpeggio Rickenbacker guitar sound, building the song on ringing riffs and layered guitar parts, was the foundation for their neo-folk-rock sound. With lush acoustics and Byrds-y electrics, overdubbed cello samples weaving in and out, the production and arrangement, by Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, are richly orchestrated and full of atmosphere, but spare and light enough to breathe. 1960s pop is clearly the main touchpoint here, with echoes of the $Left Banke and Velvet Underground as well. But R.E.M. was pioneering a new post-punk sound that, while unique, had parallels in similar sounds from rootsy, neo-psychedelic groups on the West Coast and college rock bands in Northeast cities like Boston. But countless others followed in the wake of R.E.M. and copped the sound of "Talk About the Passion" and other songs from the masterful landmark Murmur LP (1983).

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOySp6BejiI]R.E.M. - Talk About The Passion (with lyrics and translation) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. Violent Femmes – Gone Daddy Gone

 

"Gone Daddy Gone" is a song written by Gordon Gano and originally recorded by his group Violent Femmes for their 1983 eponymousdebut album. The lyrics borrow a complete verse from Willie Dixon's 1954 song "I Just Want to Make Love to You" (originally recorded by Muddy Waters). For this reason, the song is occasionally referred to as "Gone Daddy Gone/I Just Want to Make Love to You", as on Permanent Record: The Very Best of Violent Femmes. It features two xylophone solos.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmM6SxoghMQ]The Violent Femmes - Gone Daddy Gone - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

 

Everything about the tune is unforgettable, from the striking video – Annie Lennox's striking cheekbones and ice-blue eyes emphasized by her close-cropped traffic-cone-orange hair and tailored black suit, Dave Stewart playing keyboards in a cow pasture – to what at the time was an exciting and new sound for US radio. In retrospect, Eurythmics' early sound was simply the clipped motorik monotony of Neu! and early Kraftwerk applied to British pop-single forms, but the wondrous oddity of this decidedly minimalist, downright skeletal pop song remains. Listening decades later, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" still sounds both warmly inviting and off-puttingly chilly; it's clearly the oddest song ever sold to a major international confectioner for a worldwide ad campaign.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rS6CsOrimo]Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams Lyrics/letra - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. The Go-Betweens – Cattle and Cane

 

Its slightly blunt start of three descending notes, direct and unadorned on both guitar and bass in unison, doesn't give a hint as to what comes next. And what comes next for more than one person was the reason why the Go-Betweens became so loved -- a standout song from the band's second album Before Hollywood, "Cattle and Cane" is as close to perfection as one could want from understated but powerful rock & roll. Balancing off a tense energy heard in the tight acoustic lead twang and brisk drumming from Lindy Morrison with an evocative sense of the past, captured in the lyrics and especially in the wistful, looking-backward singing of Grant McLennan, it just simply works, almost defying description. Credit everything from the slight echo on the ghostly, wordless backing vocals to McLennan's semi-spoken word break near the end to the rich, sorrowful bass melody that surfaces as well, or the way that everything suggests melancholia without actually being crushingly sad. If they were only known for this song, the Go-Betweens would still be legends -- it's that amazing.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdI9Mketr4Q]The Go-Betweens - Cattle and cane - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Echo & the Bunnymen – The Cutter

 

On ”The Cutter” fellow Liverpool natives, Echo and The Bunnymen successfully wed the Eastern influenced psychedelic sounds made famous by hometown heroes, The Beatles. Crafting Eastern influences into a new post-punk hybrid that was sweeping England in the Early 80’s. It was songs like ”The Cutter” that would help define the newly coined Neo-psychedelic sub-genre, practiced by such group’s of the period as The Chameleons U.K., Psychedelic Furs and Simple Minds amongst others. The track opens with a keyboard approximation of Indian strings, whirring briefly before the band kicks into a percolating groove of popping bass, driving straight drums and chinking guitar accents. Ian McCulloch adds another layer of ’60 nostalgia, employing his expressive, slack-jawed vocal delivery that conjures aural images of the late Jim Morrison as he unfurls lines that drip with apprehension “Who’s on the seventh floor? / Brewing alternatives / What’s in the bottom drawer? / Waiting for things to give”. The Eastern strings re-enter at strategic points, filling in space between verses and McCulloch’s esoteric pleas to “spare us the cutter!”, which sounds like a good idea in any case. The arrangement also veers into epic territory quite unexpectedly in the second half, signaled by a sweeping wave of keyboard and McCulloch’s more subdued delivery as poses a string of rhetorically poignant questions, “Am I the happy loss? / Will I still recoil? / When the skin is lost / Am I the worthy cross? / Will I still be soiled? / When the dirt is off” -as the music swell behind him. Like any good single, the track never looses steam, cruising through each section with power and grace. A nod is in order for Ian Broudie, who’s smooth production helped The Cutter become Echo and The Bunnymen’s first top ten single in Britain and a linchpin track for the Neo-psychedelic movement.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8H0xtvxoq0]Echo And The Bunnymen -The Cutter - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. This Mortal Coil – Song to the Siren

 

"Song to the Siren" is a song written by Tim Buckley and his writing partner Larry Beckett and was first released on Buckley's 1970 album Starsailor. The song was written in 1967, but Buckley was dissatisfied with the early attempts at recording it. It would finally appear on Starsailor three years later. The Monkees TV show version featured the song in its original folk song style, with Buckley playing solo with a 12 string guitar. This stands in contrast to the lusher, reverb-filled version present on the Starsailor album. The Monkees television spot features the song in the key of E while the later album version is played in Bb. The album version also features heavy reverb on the electric guitar and high pitched background vocals. In comparison, the live version is more lo-fi, with no effects, and Buckley's voice is accompanied only by his guitar. The 1968 performance also features different lyrics with the phrase "I am puzzled as the oyster" later being changed to "I'm as puzzled as the new born child" in the album version. This was reportedly because when Buckley played the song to Judy Henske, wife of then producer Jerry Yester, she responded to the line with laughter. Despite this, Buckley and Beckett regarded this song as their greatest collaboration effort, with Beckett later stating "It's a perfect match of melody and lyrics. There was some kind of uncanny connection between us." The song's reference to the sirens tempting sailors at sea stems from Greek mythology. This lyrical style is an example of Larry Beckett's literary inspirations, and stands in direct contrast to Buckley's own more personal writing style. The most prominent recording of "Song to the Siren" is by This Mortal Coil. It was released as a single in September 1983 and spent 3 weeks on the UK Charts where it peaked at #66 on October 23, 1983. More impressive, however, was the sustained demand for the track, the record-buying public helping the single to spend 101 weeks on the UK Indie Charts, a run that ranked fourth in the 1980s after three classic long-selling records: "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus (131 weeks), "Blue Monday" by New Order (186 weeks) and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division (195 weeks). "Song to the Siren" was included on This Mortal Coil's 1984 album It'll End in Tears which was released a year after the single. This Mortal Coil was a collective name for a number of artists on the 4AD Records label, with Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins performing the song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HphVfIswoYE]This Mortal Coil - Song to the Siren 2010 HQ - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. New Order – Age of Consent

 

With Peter Hook's instantly recognizable bass setting the tone, "Age of Consent" kicks off both Power, Corruption and Lies and a true start for New Order, leaving the tentative Movement behind for newer vistas. Whether it's Bernard Sumner's conversational, slightly wounded singing - not conventional, but possessed of its own quieter intensity, a fine counterpart to Ian Curtis's dark glower - or the sweet touch of the string synths from Gillian Gilbert, there's a warmth here that Joy Division never quite achieved except towards the very end. The Stephen Morris/Hook rhythm combination leads the song throughout, Sumner's sometimes scratchy, sometimes clipped guitar and a subtle but present drone deep in the mix, presumably also from Gilbert, adding both texture and an extra little kick when needed. Even Sumner's occasional yelps and squeals somehow seem just right - not worried about seeming cool, just finding its own lovely logic to a beautiful song, one of the many numbers that would yet have an impact on more nineties US indie rock that might be thought.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ahU-x-4Gxw]New Order - Age Of Consent - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. The Smiths – This Charming Man

 

Anyone doubting the appeal of the Smiths clearly hasn't heard this song, both a great single and a highlight of the band's self-titled debut. Right from the get-go it shows how simply, perfectly good Johnny Marr is -- a talented guitarist who instead of showing off the fact distills his abilities towards making memorable, hook-filled tunes, playing with especial fire. A bright, sudden riff from him starts things off, while the Andy Rourke/Mike Joyce almost jumps to attention when the full song begins. Rourke's quick, stuttering bass work is downright danceable, not something perhaps thought of regarding the Smiths most times, but clearly the case here. As always, meanwhile, Morrissey proves the perfect, inspired wild card, down to his sudden wordless yelps. In a voice that theoretically shouldn't work but, in fact, gets it right word for word and note for note, he delivers his tale of the titular character and the cryptic pickup scenario surrounding him with pure panache, nervous and commanding at once. Early Elvis would have approved of the music, Wilde of the words -- an audacious end result by any standard.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzexP58si0w]The Smiths- This Charming Man - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Talking Heads – This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)

 

An unabashedly sweet and romantic song from a songwriter known mostly for his cynical and satirical lyrics often featuring distrustful, paranoid, psychotic, and even murderous narrators. "This Must Be the Place" sounds like the work of a writer confident in his ability to pen a song celebrating the simple beauty of domestic tranquillity -- bliss, even. David Byrne seems to take off his myriad masks, no longer acting out the characters that people many of his earlier songs, and offers a peek into his happy home. Though this being Byrne, of course there is that ever-present edge that remains; the listener is not quite sure whether to trust the singer until the end of the song, when the singer himself finally succumbs, head-over-heels in an love that is no longer in doubt. The song is the sort of happy-sounding, light-dance groove that Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz specialized in with their side group, Tom Tom Club. In fact, the whole band is given writing credit for the music, as they were on the bulk of the previous studio album, Remain in Light (1980). Frantz either loops his simple 4/4 beat or plays it remarkably steady. Sequenced staccato synth parts and percussion embellishments pepper the arrangement. While the band continues in the spirit of musical experimentation that was so challenging and simultaneously rewarding on the previous few Brian Eno-produced records, "This Must Be the Place" and the album, Speaking in Tongues (1983), in general sound less dense and assaulting than their immediate predecessors; the sound of the song is actually quite airy and sparse. The album proved to be the band's best-selling thus far, and the song was included on the group's best-of compilations and the commercially successful Stop Making Sense (1984). Byrne sings "This Must Be the Place" with the same amount of passion with which he delivered songs like "Life During Wartime," though now he is not singing as a survivalist or anti-government operative, but apparently, as himself -- in love and happy to be home, though not without a certain measure of insecurity and guardedness. He seems to be reluctant to give himself up completely, disbelieving that he has found such joy: "Home is where I want to be/But I guess I'm already there/I come home -- she lifted up her wings/Guess that this must be the place/I can't tell one from another/Did I find you, or you find me?/There was a time before we were born/If someone asks, this is where I'll be...where I'll be." He really digs deep vocally and emotionally for the song's climactic, "Out of all those kinds of people/You got a face with a view/I'm just an animal looking for a home/Share the same space for a minute or two/And you love me till my heart stops/Love me till I'm dead/Eyes that light up, eyes look through you/Cover up the blank spots/Hit me on the head." The bittersweet melody and freshly expressed sentiment stir the heart. Byrne successfully spins his own unique version of a love song after seeming to avoid the genre for the better part of four LPs.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9gK2fOq4MY]Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. New Order – Blue Monday

 

Still the best-selling 12" single of all time, "Blue Monday" cemented New Order's transition from post-punk to alternative dance with vivid sequencers and a set of distant, chilling lyrics by Bernard Sumner. The single, first released in 1983 though it's been remixed and reissued countless times since, united the group's frequent synthesizer experimentation with an explicit dancefloor aesthetic rooted in electronics pioneers like Kraftwerk as well as the new electro bursting out of New York City. As usual for New Order, the title is never mentioned in the lyrics, which deal with the romantic kiss-off, another constant for the group.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOFO1XOZXRM]New Order - Blue Monday - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

The Chameleons – Don’t Fall

 

Resting somewhere between the gloom of Joy Division and the uber pop of Julian Cope's Teardrop Explodes, the songs on their debut LP, Script of the Bridge, were an admirable, if flawed, effort by the Chameleons to recapture the energy of the untouchable "In Shreds." Having nearly created a genre with just one single, the band now found themselves utterly lost, and much of the material of the time reflects this. However, "Don't Fall" does possess at least a modicum of the earlier incandescence, boasting an intriguing guitar hook that carries the tune forward. Mark Burgess' vocals, buried in the deliberately muddy production, similarly have a remarkable desperation and, if the album as a whole still disappoints, coming up with gold after the majesty of "In Shreds" would stump even the most astute alchemist.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nay2N2dnfzk]The Chameleons - Don't Fall (Original Album Version) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Cocteau Twins – Sugar Hiccup

 

One of the Cocteau Twins' most anthologized songs, "Sugar Hiccup" both exemplifies the trio's early sound and makes obvious their influences. In particular, "Sugar Hiccup" is the song that finally acknowledges Liz Fraser's vocal debt to Siouxsie Sioux; the swooping, long-held notes in the title refrain, which comes between every line of the verses, are pure early-'80s Siouxsie and the Banshees. Similarly, Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde's chiming, chorused guitar and propulsive bass lines during the intro, along with the molasses-slow tempo and thudding snare drum, will make unsuspecting listeners think they've accidentally put the Cure's Pornography on instead of the Cocteau Twins, whose own sonic trademark, the use of reverb and phasing as its own instrument, is applied unusually lightly throughout, barring the richly textured and gorgeously artificial-sounding solo in the song's final minute.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMGoQIAqISM]Cocteau Twins- Head Over Heels- 3) "Sugar Hiccup" - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto – Forbidden Colours

 

"Forbidden Colours" is a song composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto with lyrics by David Sylvian. The song is the vocal version of the theme from the Nagisa Oshima film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (in certain territories retitled Furyo) and was first released on the soundtrack album. "Forbidden Colours", also issued as a duet single on Virgin Records in 1983, was the second collaborative single release by Sylvian and Sakamoto, following 1982's "Bamboo Houses".

The title of the song is taken from Japanese writer Yukio Mishima's 1953 novel Forbidden Colors; although not directly related to the film, both works include exploration of homosexual themes.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfZCISO1DuY]David Sylvian - Forbidden Colours - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Talking Heads – Burning Down the House

 

Two achievements were gained with the release of 1983's Speaking in Tongues album. It became the band's highest charting album, going all the way to the number 15 spot in the United States, and it also gave them their first and only Top Ten hit with "Burning Down the House," peaking at #9 in September of 1983. The idea for the song came to drummer Chris Frantz after seeing a Parliament/Funkadelic concert in New York. While he was there, the audience kept yelling at the band to "burn down the house." After passing the story on to David Byrne, Byrne changed the line and turned the chant into a single. One of the most recognizable features of the song is Frantz's resounding drum work. Bombastic and accentuated, his lone tom-tom hits give it a novel characteristic right from the get go. From there, the percussion work dictates the rhythm and leads the song with bottom-heavy acuteness. With eerie keyboard wafts in the background, David Byrne's one-syllable-at-a-time vocals that creep up to the chorus make for an effective alternative-like feel which in time envelops the entire song. While the synthesizer tones shimmer and gleam (reminiscent of flames), the rigid flow to the rest of the song is wonderfully novel and slightly left-of-center, as is the anxious fritter of Byrne's singing. "Burning Down the House" helped the band keep its distinct profile amongst the rest of the radio pop that was emerging at the start of the decade, but, more importantly, it proved that the band could still produce excellent material beyond their commencement as a new wave/punk band.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15G0ka5V3Ww]Talking Heads - Burning Down The House (HD) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday

 

 

An ambitious undertaking, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" set the tone for War, a breakthrough album for U2 on the U.K. charts. At the top, Larry Mullens counts off the song with a restrictive, martial beat which carries over throughout the take-no-prisoners theme of the album. The Edge lets out a foreboding guitar feedback sound, signalling a warning for the doom at hand. Though Bono claims he wrote the song quickly, explaining away any arguable lyrical naïveté, he stands firmly behind the passion harnessed in each verse. His idea was to compare and contrast the troubles in Northern Ireland and a particularly bloody massacre there with the religious significance of Easter Sunday. More so than perhaps any of U2's many peace anthems, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is the blueprint for the strident cause-orientated songs that would become the band's stock-in-trade throughout its long career as a politically charged and humanist rock band.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQZLPV6xcHI]Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2 (with lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1984:

 

 

 

10. Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls

 

 

It was one heck of a way to come to public attention and still stands out as a peak of the Pet Shop Boys' career, not to mention arguably being one of the first hip-hop singles to go top of the charts. That may seem strange, but it's pretty obvious Tennant is delivering the verses in his own English style of flow; he confirmed in later years that the source of inspiration was the Grandmaster Flash single "The Message." Lyrically, though, his focus is slightly different, a focus on class as much as inner-city pressure (though he later said that the commonly accepted vision of the song being about rough trade was not the intent). Lowe and producer Stephen Hague created a snaky, obsessive rhythm punch for the music, relentless and full-bodied, classically '80s in sonic style but with a heft that most other mainstream productions couldn't hope to touch. Lowe's sonic signature of synth melodies balanced between restrained chill and sweeping, cinematic wash is well in place, while the dramatic slow start, fading up from a Hague-taped walk in the streets near the studio, is perfectly gripping.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIQCI1reA08]Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls (HQ Audio) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. New Order – Thieves Like Us

 

Introducing a bit of sly, smooth seventies derived funk and soul to the New Order sound - Peter Hook's initial bass is at its naturally deepest yet, steady and warm - "Thieves Like Us" further showed how New Order so easily and naturally fused the seemingly oppositional worlds of rock and electronic dance just so. Stephen Morris' adept work with electronic drums and acoustic alike shows a willingness to experiment most, while Bernard Sumner's guitar delivers quick, devastating feedback stabs and Gillian Gilbert creates simple, entrancing webs of synth-string sound, echoing the use of that approach for any number of house and proto-house records in the eighties. Sumner's lyrics ruminate, as he so often does, on the power of love and connection, ranging from celebration to despair ("It's called love…and somehow it's become unmentionable"), delivered with his slightly hangdog but yet strong style, a kind of blue-eyed soul for a later age.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBRaOSkoIOg]New Order - Thieves Like Us - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. a-Ha – Take On Me

 

"Take on Me" is a song by the Norwegian synthpop band a-Ha. The song combines synthpop with a varied instrumentation that includes acoustic guitars, keyboards, and drums. "Take on Me" is a synthpop song that includes acoustic guitars, keyboards, and synthesizers. It moves at a very quick tempo of 170 beats per minute. The lyrics are a plea for love, and are constructed in a verse-chorus form with a bridge before the third and final chorus. In the song, Harket demonstrates a vocal range of over two and a half octaves. He sings the lowest pitch in the song, A2, at the beginning of the chorus, on the first syllable of the phrase "Take on me." As the chorus progresses, Harket's voice hits ever higher notes, reaching a falsetto and hitting the song's highest note (E5) at the end. There is a temporary change of markings in the drum pattern in the chorus, where for two bars the drums play in half time, returning to the same rhythm as before for the climax of the vocal line. A mix of drums, acoustic guitars and electronic instrumentation serves as the song's backing track.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2Pe5l06ydk]A ha - Take on me - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. The Smiths – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

 

The Smiths' "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" sets a precedent for the band, in that it's the first of many songs from the four-piece that doesn't appear on a traditional full-length album. In this sense, it ignites their reputation for taking their singles quite seriously. The song certainly contains some of Morrissey's most awkward lyrics, but that's hardly reason to fault the young troubadour, who would make an entire career out of revealing his psyche. The song's lyrics are almost comical. Morrissey's protagonist isn't happy about a new job, lovers passing by, or having to "smile at people (he'd) much rather kick in the eye." Johnny Marr's guitars jangle most sprightly, intertwining with effortless grace, and producer John Porter gives Andy Rourke's bass and Mike Joyce's drums a light, jazzy role. The b-side was the controversial, touching "Suffer Little Children," which caused quite a stir at the time for tackling the subject of the Moors Murders. So anyone who didn't care for Morrissey singing about the fiercely personal and shocking murder of local children and name checking serial killers was going to latch onto the shy depressive qualities of "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" as fodder to criticize the band further. Most likely, Morrissey's tongue was nestled snuggly in cheek with this classic a-side, but any song attached to "Suffer Little Children" would beg scrutiny by the citizens and press of Manchester.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaUUYV7wKos]The Smiths - Heaven Knows Im Miserable Now. - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Cocteau Twins – Lorelai

 

Somehow the idea of the Cocteau Twins creating a massive arena rock stomp may seem ridiculous, and yet one listen to "Lorelei" is enough to convince that they could well have done it with this song. The production is nowhere meant to be scaled so high, but thanks to Robin Guthrie's brilliant ear for huge guitar lines and overdubs, even the drum machine sounds ready to punch down walls. The end result is that it all works, and incredibly well at that, arguably the highlight of the group's peerless album Treasure and a regular part of the band's live set up through its later years. Beginning with an echoing bell-chime and soaring guitar line fed through who knows how many digital effects, "Lorelei" takes full flight with the steady percussion fills and Elizabeth Fraser's high, almost sickly sweet singing. As is par for the course, her lyrics are essentially indecipherable outside of a word or two, but the sense of sheer exultation and joy is infectious. The music continues to swirl and spiral up to even greater heights, with an equally commanding midsong break where Frazer's voice takes a lower pitch but somehow rises to even greater heights as a result, diving and ascending just so.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xF7P_k3hHnw]Cocteau Twins - Lorelei - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. The Smiths – What Difference Does It Make?

 

The Smiths' third U.K. single was released in January of 1984, just one month before their self-titled debut album. Similar in tone and texture to most of the remaining tracks on The Smiths, the song is a bitterly angry message to an apparently indifferent lover. Morrissey sounds as "sick and tired" as his lyrics claim. Johnny Marr sticks to relatively basic chord progressions, but his trademark jangle is everywhere. Morrissey and Marr would later refer to the song as being amateurish and a bit of a misstep, but it's still a classic step in the progression of the band's style and maturity.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0TZZZcC9l4]What Difference Does It Make? - The Smiths (Audio Only) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. The Replacements – I Will Dare

 

The unwieldy, ramshackle drunk-rockers known as Minneapolis' Replacements landed themselves at the top of the jangle rock heap in 1984 with the recording of "I Will Dare" for their album Let It Be. A band who always had pop tendencies and an extraordinary songwriter in Paul Westerberg, the 'Mats tamped down their rockingest impulses for an irresistible ditty of a love song with the killer chorus, hooky verse, and proficient guitar from the kingpin of the Rickenbacker, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck. An even unlikelier element to the song was the addition of Westerberg on mandolin. The song -- with its skiffle beat, light country-rock flavor, and bouncy new wave beat -- captured the spirit of the times when music was changing, particularly American guitar rock. Lyrically, it captured the tentativeness of young love, presumably something the band and their fans could relate to from their collective pasts. In essence, the song was simply a high-watermark for the college rock sound of the day and contributed to the band's fourth album, which became a big independent-label hit, spurring them onto a major-label recording deal. "I Will Dare" had all the right elements and the Replacements were in the right place at the right time; it stands as perhaps the band's most beloved song and is a touchstone for their mid-'80s heyday, not to mention its status in the jangle and college rock canons.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cjVMOvJywk]The Replacements - I Will Dare (REMASTERED) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. The Smiths – William, It Was Really Nothing

 

Following The Smiths' somewhat somber or angry singles "Hand In Glove," "This Charming Man," "What Difference Does It Make?," and "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now", the band's fifth single "William, It Was Really Nothing" brightened things up in August of 1984, at least musically. Johnny Marr's guitar rings and rattles beautifully over the bouncy, lush backdrop created by Andy Rourke's bass, Mike Joyce's drums, and John Porter's production. Morrissey sounds completely relaxed and confident. He shows a great deal of restraint, adding showy trills and ornamentation only where appropriate. Imagery of rain falling "hard on a humdrum town" and ambiguity about the song's protagonist make for a poetic, fascinating two minutes. Rumor has it that William was Billy Mackenzie from The Associates. Morrissey and Mackenzie were friends, and possibly lovers, in the early 1980s The brittle atmosphere and energy of the song is a perfect fit with its stunning, emotionally devastating b-side "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want." The 12-inch single famously hid "How Soon Is Now?" as a third track.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XqNYnV0W6o]The Smiths- William, it was really nothing - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Echo & the Bunnymen – The Killing Moon

 

The centerpiece track of 1984's Ocean Rain, the epic "The Killing Moon" is the point at which Echo & the Bunnymen turned from second-string post-punkers into members of the pantheon of heroes to the mildly alienated suburban teens of the mid-'80s, up there with Depeche Mode and the Cure. (This is as opposed to those who preferred the starker despair of Joy Division or Nick Cave, whose music was considerably darker and not nearly so pleasantly melodic.) The song opens abruptly, with a Spanish-style guitar intro from Will Sergeant over a doomy, bass-heavy setting, fading into Ian McCulloch's portentous intoning of the first verse. Crucially, the band made an atypical move in the arrangement of this song by modulating upward for the chorus; historically, the upward modulation is used to signify happiness or the release of tension, and its use in the midst of the minor-key melancholy of the verse melody makes a huge dynamic shift in the song. The smart use of strings -- one of the key factors that makes Ocean Rain Echo & the Bunnymen's most satisfying album -- amplifies the elegance of the tune, bringing both a musical richness and a sense of quiet dignity to the tune.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfqTq5Aso4o]Donnie Darko - The Killing Moon - Echo & the Bunnymen - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. The Smiths – How Soon Is Now?

 

Probably the most played Morrissey/Marr song of all time, "How Soon Is Now?" is an epic throwback to '60s psychedelia, a lushly produced symphony of Johnny Marr guitar perfection, and perhaps the ultimate statement of Morrissey's bold miserablism. That it's one of the most compelling songs of the 1980s is nearly impossible to deny. Marr's guitar wraps around itself and back again, its tremolo seemingly echoing straight out of an ecstasy-hazed Hacienda. The sole song from Meat Is Murder produced by John Porter, "How Soon Is Now?" certainly seems more dance-oriented than most of the tracks from the Smiths' sophomore album. Mike Joyce's drums virtually mimic a drum machine, as he two-fistedly pounds the same sharp beat for nearly seven minutes. Morrissey exudes confident depression, foregoing the crooning whine present on so many of the band's early songs. He seems relatively detached offering droll lines like "I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar." His lyrics might be hopeless, but he sounds coolly at ease. A semi-jokey whistle that crops up now and again paints the picture of a bold swagger, suggesting that Morrissey knew the band would continue to be revered by a growing army of fans and discussed in tones the British press hadn't used since the Beatles. Along with the more dancefloor-friendly songs of their Manchester peers New Order, the Smiths helped to inspire an entire cache of local talent with the druggy textures of this song, spawning similar genre-hopping outfits like the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays. Though it isn't necessarily indicative of the Smiths' general style, and though die-hard fans might feign disgust at those who instantly label it a favorite, "How Soon Is Now?" etches and rattles with a seemingly timeless sense of cool. So what if it was the first introduction to a mass audience across England's borders? So what if the song makes countless appearances across the band's discography? Any song at once so standoffish and yet so charming deserves as broad an audience as possible.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEq8DBxm0J4]The Smiths - How Soon Is Now? - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Art of Noise – Moments in Love

 

 

Along with "Beat Box (Diversion One)," "Moments in Love" is the keystone to the entire Art of Noise project. An online discography lists a whopping 18 different mixes of the song just covering the period between 1983 and 1987, not even counting the later remixes and tributes that came in the '90s with the advent of chillout rooms and ambient dub, a trend that "Moments in Love" in large part initiated. Sort of a cross between Barry White's "Love's Theme" (the lavishly erotic all-time '70s slow jam) and the first track from Brian Eno's Music for Airports (the one with that nagging piano hook created by an unresolved chord progression), "Moments in Love" manages to be chilly and romantic at the same time. Based on a simple but oddly beautiful hook created out of a sequence of four notes played on a Fairlight CMI sampler (it's the same sample of orchestral strings played on three different keys, the second note repeated at the end; these became known as "orchestral stabs" to Fairlight fans, an arrangement gimmick that became a huge cliché by the middle of the '80s), "Moments in Love" introduces a theme and then crafts a slowly unfolding series of variations around it.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnSPrPpvA4k]Moments In Love (Full Version) - Art Of Noise - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The Cars – Drive

 

The Cars reached a peak level of success when they teamed up with hitmaking Svengali Robert John "Mutt" Lange for 1984's Heartbeat City. This sleek, radio-friendly album was rejected as a sellout effort by some of the band's longtime fans but it represented an effective balance between their love of space-age sounds and their gift for pop songwriting. One of its finest moments was "Drive," a gorgeous ballad that matched heartfelt songwriting to an alluring electronic soundscape to create one of their biggest hits. The lyrics of "Drive" pack a very direct emotional punch as they depict a narrator who knows a relationship with a lovely but unstable person is bad news but when the chorus rolls around he can't help but wonder "Who's gonna drive you home tonight?" The music reflects the lyrical tone with a lovely melody that rises and falls in a soothing yet sad fashion. The Cars' recording of this song applies a sleek, multi-layered electronic arrangement to the song that eliminates guitar-oriented rock for a densely layered bed of synth hooks that are given a gentle beat by programmed drums. This arrangement is given human warmth by Benjamin Orr's plaintive vocal, which communicates the lyrical emotions without overplaying them. This vocal is bolstered by a complex, multi-part background vocal arrangement reminiscent of the vocal backgrounds on 10cc's "I'm Not in Love." This combination of emotion and stylish production made "Drive" a natural hit and it peaked at number three on the pop charts.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TViwvnxbJQ0]The Cars - Drive - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The Chills – Pink Frost

 

An anthem for the U.S. college underground, the Chills' early-'80s sleeper "Pink Frost" has always been spoken about with the hush reserved for something special. And it's no wonder -- this moody masterpiece of love and death is among the most beautifully pure songs to be adopted by the raincoat-sheathed post-punk generation. The song assumed even deeper poignancy after the band dedicated it to drummer Martyn Bull, who died July 1983. Kicking off in an up-tempo, and fairly lighthearted manner, the mood quickly frosts as a soft brush on the drums, and otherworldly rhythm and guitar take the song into quietly sinister territory. Of course, the instrumentation, sparse and electrically understated, serves to augment the echoed delivery of Martin Phillips' vocals, which feel out of step and removed from the rest of the song -- creating a literal distance to match the emotional detachment of the song's subject. "I'm really not lying, I feel so scared. I have to stop crying now she's dead." Truly unique to the era, and certainly unique to the Chills' own rock-heavy sound, "Pink Frost" was an eternal live set staple. Writer Jim Neill has summed up that experience perfectly: "It was one of those crisp...autumn nights. Someone threw a bushel of autumn leaves over the band during this song, and, through my own, I saw several faces around me erupt in tears." Overwrought? Perhaps. But listen to the song; smell the smoky residue of summer's death in those leaves, and it all makes perfect sense.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhMckVUyrpo]The Chills Pink Frost - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

R.E.M. – So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)

 

Rarely has a crossover seemed so jarring; here was a highly enigmatic, artsy bunch of college students well-schooled in punk and underground rock -- a secret known to only those who listened to college radio or paid close attention to word-of-mouth alternative trends -- enjoying the kind of commercial success usually experienced only by the sort of mainstream pop acts R.E.M. now found as neighbors on the charts. But the band's growing cult and overwhelming critical praise had made the band undeniable. And it wasn't as if the band had watered anything down or changed their style for mainstream taste and acceptance; "So. Central Rain" was an unlikely single: a country-rock song for mid-'80s rock and pop radio, with words that were mostly unintelligible -- and hard to decipher, even when they could be heard. But the song was undeniably catchy, with hard riffing on a Rickenbacker 12-string from guitarist Buck and Stipe's melancholy melody and howling chorus of "I'm sorry!" The rest of the lyrics, however, are not the stuff of typical mainstream pop: "Did you never call?/I waited for your call/These rivers of suggestion are driving me away/The trees will bend, the cities wash away/The city on the river there is a girl without a dream/I'm sorry/Eastern to Mountain, third party call, the lines are down/The wise man built his words upon the rocks/But I'm not bound to follow suit." This poetic version of the breakup song was about as direct as Stipe got at this early part of the band's songwriting career. Like the record's other single, "Don't Go Back to Rockville," "So. Central Rain" is jaunty country-rock played with a twist. The chorus is based around one of Buck's characteristic open-chord riffs with upright tack piano from bassist Mike Mills. The production is fairly dry, save for the chorus lines. The arrangement builds to the insistent ending, which takes the riff of the chorus and inverts it to a haunting drone, with a pulsing quarter-note ringing note, à la the theme to Psycho. Stipe yowls out the last of the vocals as the song draws to a conclusion.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2taJLBGoMi8]R E M - So Central Rain I'm Sorry - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Sade – Smooth Operator

 

1984 saw the release of breakout song "Smooth Operator" by sultry songstress Sade. After rotation on Top 40, adult contemporary, and alternative radio stations, the Nigeria native instantly became renowned for her silky vocals and lounge-style, sometimes erotic, mood music. Everything about this song is, in fact, smooth -- from the title to its lyrical content, about an international playboy, to the instrumentation, particularly the Latin-style percussion and lusty saxophone line that wafts throughout. Such words as "His eyes are like angels, but his heart is cold/no need to ask, he's a smooth operator" capture the essence of the song, which served as a launching pad for the many hits that were to come by the singer. In a year that was dominated by synth pop music, "Smooth Operator" offered up something different and became a surprise hit that helped pave the way for future vocalists of the same ilk. The early 21st century's Dido, for example, who layers velvety vocals over moody electronic-pop music, owes a bit of thanks to Sade. "Smooth Operator" made such an impact on the music industry that, decades later, the song is still heard on the radio. Its blend of international flavor, fluid sound, and overall seductive tone keep this song firmly positioned as one of music's most creative recordings.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA9gUspn6gc]03. Sade - Smooth Operator - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1985:

 

 

 

10. Talking Heads – And She Was

 

 

Kicking off with an uncharacteristically rockist "Hey!" from David Byrne and an addictive, chiming guitar hook that wouldn't sound out of place on an early R.E.M. album, "And She Was" clearly sets out the artistic parameters of 1985's Little Creatures; a retreat from the expansive musicianship and world-music influences that started with 1979's Fear of Music, "And She Was" is both a return to the deceptively simple pop of More Songs About Buildings and Food and the start of the next phase of Talking Heads' career. Self-consciously reminiscent of the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Byrne's lyrics describe a woman levitating through an ordinary suburban landscape. Although this newfound fascination with "ordinary America" (see also Camper Van Beethoven's "Good Guys and Bad Guys," Green On Red's Gas Food Lodging and a ton of other '85-'87 releases) would get progressively more irritating, culminating in the profoundly smarmy film True Stories, "And She Was" has a pure-pop charm unusual for Talking Heads. The last minute or so of the song, where the guitar riff expands into a crystalline, nearly psychedelic reverbed solo with echoing harmonies, followed by an upward modulation and repeats of the chorus, accompanied by the toughest-sounding lead guitar ever on a Heads record and collapsing into a dead stop, is Talking Heads at their most pop-savvy, proving that when they wanted to, they knew how to deliver the radio-friendly goods.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV9DNpkfak0]Talking Heads - And She Was - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. New Order – The Perfect Kiss

 

Formed after the disintegration of Joy Division and the death of Ian Curtis, New Order continued (and strengthened) their techno-pop, synth-beat sound, emerging as one of the most influential groups in the field. By the time Low-Life was released in 1985, the band had fully mastered their fashioned keyboard grooves and heavy bass lines, and singer/guitarist Bernard Summer's vocals added a well-balanced humanistic feel to New Order's textured rhythms. One of the group's most dynamic tracks comes in the form of "Perfect Kiss," and, like a lot of New Order's material, it was first issued as a 12" single but ended up gracing the Low-Life album. The track's slightly stressed rhythmic undercurrent, crisp movement, and flawless dance club beat accompany Summer's vocals without diminishing them the least bit and New Order had yet another hit, forged in the same style as 1982's "Blue Monday."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQgsc6J15Xo]New Order - The Perfect Kiss - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. The Replacements – Swingin’ Party

 

From the band's excellent Tim (1985) LP, "Swinging Party" continues in the Replacements' habit of mixing up the traditional with the contemporary. It is a breezy ballad with a climbing-scale melody reminiscent of "Something Stupid," of all things, the duet made famous by Frank and Nancy Sinatra. "Swinging Party" is based around a kind of country-ish, early rock & roll groove that Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, or Ricky Nelson might have worked. With a warts-and-all approach to the performance and production, the Replacements save the song from sounding like pastiche or overly retro. If anything, the band sounds more like such English pub-rockers and early new-wavers as Elvis Costello or Nick Lowe, by tackling a 1950s/'60s-style ballad with an attitude that is at once earnest and irreverent. Tommy Erdelyi's production includes such obvious nods to early rock & roll as a slap-back tape-echo on Bob Stinson's staccato electric-guitar chords and Duane Eddy-like twangy guitar solo, but he also keeps in a few dissonant moments and does little to dull the Replacements' notorious raw edge. The Replacements would tackle such traditional pop styles in almost the same way the Pogues took on traditional Celtic music. Paul Westerberg's lyrics offers a 180-degree, self-deprecating twist on the traditional love ballad, the sort that would offer burning pledges of love and worthiness. Westerberg's narrator is the same type of insecure and scared boy-man, the hopeless failure who readily accepts his limitations, that he features in many of his songs: "If being wrong's a crime, I'm serving forever/If being strong's your kind, then I need help here with this feather/If being afraid is a crime, we hang side-by-side/At the swinging party down the line." He sings such ironic and tragi-comic lines as "Bring your own lampshades/Somewhere there's a party/Here it's never-ending/Can't remember when it started" with a quiver in his voice, like nervous laughter. With the impending firing of the troubled Bob Stinson, the Replacements -- and Westerberg in particular -- were moving on from their personas as lovable drunks, an image that was becoming increasingly less charming. As with another ballad on Tim, "Here Comes a Regular," Westerberg turns an incisive eye on himself and his enabling gang, does not like what he sees, and decides to sober up (well, maybe not right away, but soon) and try to grow up. While airing his growing pains, in the process he turns in some of the best songwriting of his generation.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaN4KB73Ars]The Replacements - Swingin' Party - Tim - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. R.E.M. – Driver 8

 

Adding more meat to his riffs, Peter Buck did not completely abandon his style on Fables of the Reconstruction (1985), but the guitars on the record clearly became more of a focus and, with legendary folk-rock producer Joe Boyd behind the board, taking prominence in the mix. Guitar lines still alternate between picking arpeggios and full-force strums, but now the balance tilts a bit away from the folk end of the folk-rock spectrum and much closer to the rock end. In fact, the lick that forms the backbone of "Driver 8" is much more reminiscent of Blue Öyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" than the Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!" While there was always something vaguely "Southern" about the Athens, GA, band R.E.M., such elements were usually limited mostly to the adoptive Southerner Michael Stipe's lyrics, which displayed an outsider's fascination for the parlance, color, and mores of the region. His words usually offered an updated Southern gothic approach, filtered through surrealism and juxtaposed alongside such very contemporary concerns as politics and human rights. But the band's music was generally a blend of art rock, folk-rock, with even a little punk rock to their approach. There had been hints of country music influence, especially on their second LP, Reckoning (1984). But these traits, and even some Southern rock influence, were accented on Fables of the Reconstruction. Sure, there's a little bit of the Long Island-formed Blue Öyster Cult, but "Driver 8" is not far musically from some Outlaws or Marshall Tucker songs, with a hard riff framing acoustic-centered, strumming verses. The irony is that R.E.M. waited until they recorded for the first time outside the South -- setting up shop in England, of all places -- to bring such elements to the fore. And though Stipe does not sing about ramblin' men, or hard-drinkin' wild boys and gals, he does stir up some distinctly Southern lyrical themes: "He piloted this song in a plane like that one/She is selling faith on the Go Tell crusade/Locomotive 8, Southern Crescent, hear the bells ring again/Field to weed is stricken thin/And the train conductor says/'Take a break Driver 8, Driver 8 take a break/We've been on this shift too long'/And the train conductor says/'Take a break Driver 8, Driver 8 take a break/We can reach our destination, but we're still a ways away.'" Stipe mentioned in an interview with Melody Maker in 1985 that he had been listening to a lot of field-recorded Appalachian folk songs around the time of the recording, and wanted the album to have a storytelling feel: "I was fascinated by the whole idea of the old men sitting around the fire, passing on these legends and fables to the grandchildren," he explained. Certainly "Driver 8" has the melodic and lyrical feel of such a campfire song, a tale that could be taken literally or allegorically: for life in general, or anything else that can be likened to a nonstop journey.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OSG7YQBKCE]REM Driver 8 - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. Kate Bush – Cloudbusting

 

One of Kate Bush’s best ever singles, 1985’s ”Cloudbusting”, culled from the slightly disappointing Hounds of Love set, was her retelling of Peter Reich’s classic A Book of Dreams. Very simply, it is the tale of a scientist father’s relationship with his son, imaged through the experience of cloud seeding as seen through the boy’s eyes. The song fell easily into the rich earth of imagery that Bush has tilled throughout her entire career, emerging both tender and brutal. The guilelessness of youth is tempered with the blinding realization of lost innocence as the child’s father is arrested and taken away. Safety and danger are threaded through the song, via both a thoughtful lyric and a compulsive cello-driven melody. Even more startling, but hardly surprising, is the ease with which Bush was able to capture the moment when a child first realizes that adults are fallible and the parental cocoon is tenuous at best.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLLENYukPno]Kate Bush Cloudbusting - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. The Smiths – That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

 

The gorgeous, swirling "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" might be the emotional peek of Meat Is Murder. Produced by the Smiths with engineering help from Stephen Street, the dynamic range of the band at this point had expanded light years beyond the flat, albeit endearing, sound of its debut album. Morrissey's plaintive voice is processed as readily and as extensively as Johnny Marr's guitars. A myriad of vocal tracks intertwine, allowing the singer to harmonize with himself and to hauntingly hum away in the background amid a stunning array of wailing electric guitar effects courtesy of Marr. Marr's jangling acoustic guitar rings out like a stream of pristine church bells. Morrissey is dead serious with his lyrics and delivery. When he repeatedly sings, "I've seen this happen in other's people's lives, now it's happening in mine," he leaves behind his miserable-youth persona, progressing here to a kind of heartbreaking adult introspection. That's not to say that earlier Smiths' songs weren't poignant and/or devastating in their portrayal of sorrow and anguish. It's just to revel in the reality that Morrissey stripped away all layers of pretension with this song. If ever a Smiths creation was to be compared to a shoegazer song, "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" would be a prime candidate thanks to its mind-boggling musical complexity and sweep. Its self-revelatory extremes and desperate atmosphere are a great lead-in to the freeing, lighter canvas of "How Soon Is Now?"

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIyXJxPFVz4]The Smiths - That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

 

Although Kate Bush's Hounds of Love album faltered in the U.S., reaching only number 30 on the charts, it went to number one in the U.K., with the title track climbing to a respectable number 18. Bush's only Top 40 single in the United States came in the form of 1985's "Running Up That Hill," but the anxious tempo and melodic sweep inside "Hounds of Love" makes it one of her strongest efforts. Engulfed with a rather attractive orchestral tinge that's paired with the chorus, this one aspect alone gives the song more of a complaisant pop feel than most of her material. Not only is the song's musical makeup appealing, but the lyrics infuse a fairy tale aspect once again, the same type of fabled romanticism that made her "Wuthering Heights" single successful. "Hounds of Love" utilizes a certain pop/rock formula that remains within Bush's eccentric domain by grazing the song and not engulfing it, and more attention is given to the track's rhythm and movement than to Bush's voice, which makes for a refreshing change altogether.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOwyRd9PPBk]Kate Bush Hounds of Love - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. The Smiths – The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

 

Effortlessly catchy and charming in its delicate depiction of love, "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" might have been too optimistic when it was released as a single in September 1985. It's difficult to fault the song's sculpted optimism, but much of the press felt that Morrissey and Johnny Marr were treading upon ground they'd already worn out. Fans seemed to express a similar lack of interest, as the song didn't fare as well on the charts as most Smiths singles. After The Queen Is Dead appeared in June of 1986, this once-thorny A-side began to make more sense. The staccato jangle of Marr's guitar would only appear on a handful of the album's other songs. The band explored and experimented and reached new emotional and musical peaks across the other album tracks. "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" was just one piece of the puzzle: a throwback recorded just before the Smiths reached full maturity. Comparing the song's somewhat basic arrangement against that of its album peers "Cemetery Gates," "I Know It's Over," and "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" suggests that it might have benefited from just a bit more compositional refinement. Indeed, Morrissey's vocals seem to clash with the underlying music as if the singer wasn't even listening to the music when he was singing. The fact that Morrissey hums and moans for a full minute near the song's end doesn't exactly add to replay value. Still, "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" is a veritable singalong classic for its all-out catchiness.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsjevMbPqW0]The Smiths - The Boy With The Thorn In His Side - (The Queen Is Dead) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill

 

Another huge UK hit for Kate Bush, 1985’s ”Running Up that Hill”, became the key that finally opened the door for Kate Bush in America, in part due to ample MTV rotation of the video trilogy which also included ”the Hounds of Love” and ”the Big Sky”. Alongside ”Cloudbusting”, one of the highlights of the Hounds of Love album, ”Running Up that Hill” not only opened that set, but also acts as its keynote, introducing many of the themes she would explore across it. With a relentless beat to drive the song, Bush’s lyrics spill out, barely keeping time with the rhythm. The line “You don’t want to hurt me, but see how deep the bullet lies. Unaware I’m tearing you asunder, there is thunder in our hearts” cuts to the root of the tenuous thread that connects love to lust, loss to pain. Always adept at emotion and beautifully able to manipulate even the most bitter of hearts, rarely has Bush penned such a brutally truthful, painfully sensual song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snb5729vZe0]Kate Bush Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Just Like Honey

 

With its "Be My Baby" drum beat that sounds as if it is crying out from a torture chamber, this feedback and drone-soaked, Phil Spector wall-of-sound-gone-sour number opened the Jesus & Mary Chain's important 1985 debut album, Psychocandy. The early single and "buzz saw guitar" number was a defining track for brothers Jim and William Reid and the noise pop genre. Its refrain is a sweet as sugar "just like honey" with a high background vocal attached; the line preceding it is a bit more harsh: "Eating up the scum is the hardest thing for me to do." Sweet irony is the name of the Mary Chain's weird game; drink it in and it goes down just fine.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=470HnRobKLc]The Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

The Cure – In Between Days

 

 

One of the great pop songs from the 1980s, "In Between Days" has the Cure concocting an irresistible combination of musical elements for an undeniably energetic single: danceability and emotion, organic and acoustic instruments with synthesized textures, ebullience, love, desperation, and regret. The beat is insistent, the bass and guitar lines slinky, the melody infectious, hummable, and a bit sad. The song is for those who like the bitter with the sweet and who are capable of dancing, feeling, thinking, and singing at the same time. At the time -- 1985 -- "In Between Days" was at once comfort food for the soul and a challenging new sound that made sense of a myriad of disparate influences. To be sure, the rubbery lead bass line was almost straight out of New Order bassist Peter Hook's playbook. And the grounding in warm, human, and friendly acoustic sounds of techno-synth also represents a give and take between the Cure and such colleagues. The driving beat -- all overdubbed layers of drums and nonstop 16th-note guitar strumming -- can have its source traced to Spanish and Brazilian (and subsequently African) roots. The beat is so danceable that there is no need for sequencers, samples, or beat boxes -- though "In Between Days" was successfully remixed for the 1990 collection Mixed Up. Robert Smith wisely allows the arrangement to go around one full time, establishing the various musical hooks and themes, before entering with the song's beautiful melody and harmony. He offers a poignant, vulnerable, almost Dylanesque lyric of regret and plea for forgiveness: "Yesterday I got so old I felt like I could die/Yesterday I got so old it made me want to cry/Go on, go on, just walk away/Go on, go on, your choice is made/Go on, go on, and disappear/Go on, go on, away from here/And I know I was wrong when I said it was true/That it couldn't be me/And be her in between without you."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Mx7K1pQess]In Between Days by The Cure - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Killing Joke – Love Like Blood

 

Killing Joke practiced a rare combination of pop melodicism, punk-metal aggression, and dance music groove long before other artists formed similar amalgams. While there were melodic punk- and metal-edged bands, and smarter dance-synth pop, Killing Joke seamlessly mixed all of it and sounded unlike anyone else. "Love Like Blood" was a breakthrough on modern dance charts, with guitars right out of metal and chant-like vocals gleaned from punk rock, post-punk, and goth rock. Singer Jaz Coleman was not averse to making bold social and political statements over the gloomy music, even if some listeners were too carried away by the song's groove to even bother to listen to the words, never mind think about them. Like the thinking-man's heavy rock group Blue Oyster Cult, Killing Joke's lyrics are above-par for aggressive rock. "We must play our lives like soldiers in the field," sings Coleman on "Love Like Blood." "Life is short, I'm running faster all the time/Strength and beauty destined to decay/So cut the rose in full bloom/Till the fearless come and the act is done/A love like blood, a love like blood." His rich, if at times ponderous images are set against a constantly despairing and alienated backdrop, the narrator consistently disappointed by human nature in a post-industrialized society: "Everyday through all frustration and despair/Love and hate fight with burning hearts/'Til legends live and man is god again (and self preservation rules the day no more)/We must dream of promised lands and fields/That never fade in season." The music is driving, with guitarist Geordie Walker providing the basis for the song in huge, chunky guitar chords and riffs -- cyclical and inverting in on themselves. He plays various arpeggios for the different sections of the song, with a tone that combines blistering distortion with a cold and edgy chorus effect. Drummer Paul Ferguson plants a steady four-on-the-floor dance beat, along with Youth's funky bass line, for the rhythm track. Unlike many of the industrial bands that followed in its wake, Killing Joke uses no sequencers or drum machines, leaving some human feel within the industrial framework. Coleman plays a haunting legato synth line that floats over the staccato guitar and rhythm section. Near the end of "Love Like Blood," he also offers an ominous piano bass note on upbeats, like a horror-film bell tolling.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsvMOPlhg2g]Killing Joke - (1985) - Love Like Blood - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Sonic Youth – Death Valley ‘69

 

The first Sonic Youth song to receive much attention from the college radio scene that was just about to embrace them as gods walking the earth, "Death Valley '69" is much more the end of Sonic Youth Mark I than the beginning of Sonic Youth Mark II. A collaboration with Lydia Lunch (whose contribution is limited to a shouty second vocal behind Thurston Moore's lead -- in concert, Lee Ranaldo would often provide these vocals, but they were more often simply left out altogether), "Death Valley '69" is only marginally more structured than Sonic Youth's free-form experimental beginnings, but Kim Gordon's bass and Bob Bert's drums provide a relatively straightforward platform for Moore and Ranaldo's alternate-tuning freak-outs, and rather than spinning off into entirely new directions, the song sticks to one for its five-and-a-half-minute entirety. The lyrics and title reference the fascination with Charles Manson that percolated through some elements of the '80s punk scene, but they're too abstract and vaguely poetic to be taken as commentary.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1zPOcllS9Q]Death Valley '69 (Sonic Youth, 1985) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It

 

"Life's What You Make It" is a song by the English band Talk Talk. It was released as a single in 1985, the first from the band's album The Colour of Spring. The song was one of the last to be conceived for The Colour of Spring, following concern from the band’s management at the lack of an obvious single among accumulated work. Initially unwilling, Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene, the principal source of original material for the band, accepted the task as a challenge. Friese-Greene: "I had a drum pattern loosely inspired by Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill and Mark was playing Green Onions organ over the top." (Making no. 3 in the UK Singles Chart, "Running Up That Hill" had been released in August 1985.) The track was embellished with David Rhodes’ guitar hook.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Pd-dUxvQc]Talk Talk - Life's What You Make It (HD) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Tom Waits – Downtown Train

 

The street-poet and boho balladeer side of Tom Waits is on full display on this urban hymn. "Downtown Train" tackles the alienating anonymity of city life while simultaneously capturing the old romance of New York City and the potential small-town neighborhood feel of areas like Brooklyn. This romantic song about pursuing a love has some trademark sharp and quintessential Waits lines like "I'm shining like a new dime," which seem old-fashioned in a warm and welcoming way, like the well-worn catch phrases your father or grandfather might toss around. The verses of "Downtown Train" are chock-full with more concrete and evocative images than all of the contemporary Top 40 pop hits combined; images like "another yellow moon has punched a hole in the nighttime," "The downtown trains are full/With all those Brooklyn girls/They try so hard to break out of their little worlds," and "you wave your hands and they scatter like crows" ring of Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter. The song is a perfect modern pop structure, somewhat rare for Waits in this era when he was moving away from the folk-jazz troubadour persona and a little more towards the avant-garde.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7jsEE_QGKg]Lyrics- Tom Waits- Downtown Train - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1986:

 

 

 

10. Paul Simon – Graceland

 

Coming at a time when Simon's musical career was at something of a low ebb following the disappointing public response to Hearts and Bones, the project was originally inspired by Simon's listening to a cassette of the Boyoyo Boys instrumental "Gumboots." "Graceland" is the title song of the album Graceland, released in 1986 by Paul Simon. The song features vocals by The Everly Brothers. The lyrics deal with the singer's thoughts during a road trip to Graceland after the failure of his marriage to actress and author Carrie Fisher.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvliMzAFWHM]Paul Simon - Graceland + lyrics - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

9. Beastie Boys – (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)

 

"(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)" (sometimes shortened to "Fight for Your Right") is a song by American rap group the Beastie Boys, released as the fourth single released from their debut album Licensed to Ill (1986). Ironically, the song, written by Adam Yauch and band friend Tom "Tommy Triphammer" Cushman (who appears in the video), was intended as a parody of party and attitude songs, such as "Smokin' in the Boys Room" and "I Wanna Rock". However, the irony was lost on most listeners. Mike D commented that, "The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different. There were tons of guys singing along to 'Fight for Your Right' who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svTuSRiFPoc]Beastie Boys - Fight For Your Right - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

8. Mr. Fingers – Can You Feel It?

 

Can You Feel It? is a 1986 house record released by Larry Heard (also known as Mr. Fingers). It is regarded as one of the first deep house records. Its seminal impact on deep house has been compared to that of Derrick May's "Strings Of Life" (1987) on Detroit techno. It became popular in the Chicago club scene and was often mixed with Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFuujExs03A]Mr Fingers - Can You Feel It - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

7. The Chameleons – Swamp Thing

 

The title track of the Chameleons' 1986 breakthrough LP, "Swamp Thing" found the band firmly rooted in shoegazer territory, alongside all the rest of the post-punk children who'd traded up their black boots and added a long raincoat to the ensemble. Shaking off the unevenness of their early-'80s output, the band had, by this time, finally pinpointed their ideal sound -- a style heard best across this repetitious, near six-minute dirge. "Swamp Thing" became the Chameleons' American calling card, entering heavy rotation on college radio stations across the U.S. and helping to fully establish the band as underground up-and-comers. Anthemic and bizarrely up-tempo given its pace, "Swamp Thing is also remarkably upbeat for such an apocalypse and, again, demonstrates the Chameleons' ability to turn gloomy chastisement into something that felt like a love song.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYNHjmnlZbA]The Chameleons - Swamp Thing - 1986 - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

6. R.E.M. – Fall on Me

 

For the album Life's Rich Pageant, R.E.M. vocalist and lyricist Michael Stipe made a concerted effort to enunciate his trademark mumble and sing out on issues of the day. "Fall on Me," the lead track on the 1986 album, was an eco song and the perfect example of the band's slight new direction. Bill Berry told Spin that year the song was specifically about "acid rain." The video for "Fall on Me" was filmed upside down in a rock quarry, and snippets of the environmentally concerned words flash on-screen throughout: "Buy" the sky, "Sell" the sky, etc. The R.E.M. jangle rock sound was still intact and a very '80s drum attack supplied the beat, but Stipe's vocal is the lead instrument on the track, followed closely by Mike Mills' background vocals and bridge: "What is it up in the air for?/Don't fall on me."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QziZsyDA-Q]R.E.M. - Fall on Me (with lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

5. The Smiths – Panic

 

Whether it was for the benefit of additional press coverage or simply the result of his romantically rebellious soul, Morrissey drummed up loads of controversy with nearly every step in the heyday of the Smiths. "Panic" saw Morrissey rebelling via music. Misguided members of the British press interpreted the song as a racist stand against black music, but theirs was a ludicrous claim, based only on their own stereotyping of a race and of dance culture. If Johnny Marr is to be believed, "Panic" was written after he and Morrissey took offense to British DJ Steve Wright playing Wham's "I'm Your Man" immediately following a news flash about the Chernobyl catastrophe. "Panic" is Morrissey and Marr asking what fluffy radio tunes mean in a modern existence. Morrissey speaks directly to his listeners, name-checking cities like Leeds, Dublin, and Dundee, boldly reinforcing that the Smiths make music that says something to them about their lives unlike the songs from "the blessed DJ." Whether it's part of a somewhat juvenile motif or not, "Panic" is a wholly compelling song from start to finish. When Morrissey repeatedly calls out "hang the DJ" with backing vocals from young children, it's hard not to be impressed by the band's swagger and style.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlYXp_3A64k]The Smiths - Panic - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

4. Sonic Youth – Shadow of a Doubt

 

A haunting track from Sonic Youth's landmark Evol album, where the group first began coalescing their previous aural experimental sound with elements of traditional melody and song structure, "Shadow of a Doubt" is a startling piece of atmospheric soundcraft. Plucked high notes of two guitars are interwoven, while a single low piano note resonates ominously. Muted drums slowly keep time. A tension is gradually created with chiming guitars and drums building, then releasing briefly, only to begin reconstructing again. Bassist and occasional lead vocalist Kim Gordon whispers the opening lines: "Met a stranger on a train/Bumped right into me/Swear I didn't mean it/Swear it wasn't meant to be/Must have been a dream from a thousand years ago." A bizarre dream -- evoking classic Freudian imagery, subconscious desires, and erotically charged danger -- sets a surrealistic tone, as Gordon sings the breathy lines: "From the bottom of my heart/He was looking all over me/'Together, ever after,' he said/You take me and I'll be you/You kill him and I'll kill her/Kiss me/Kiss me in the shadow of a doubt." In place of a traditional chorus, the cycles of tension from the verses finally explode, with several overdubbed voices speaking and yelling, "No!," as Gordon's vocal take on a desperate pleading in the throes of her fever dream. Drums pound and guitars crash around her as she tries to convince herself, "It's just a dream!/ No!/Swear it was just a dream/Maybe/Maybe it was just a dream I had." Coming to a climax, the instruments give way to the opening plucked guitars again, relaxing back as the fever subsides, repeating the opening verse, threatening slightly to start again, then abruptly coming to a close. Few groups have been able to capture a dream state with such effectiveness. "Shadow of a Doubt" shows Sonic Youth at their atmospheric best.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qTb5MVFuQU]Sonic Youth - Shadow of a Doubt - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

3. The Smiths – Ask

 

"Ask" is probably Morrissey's ultimate statement on shyness and sexuality. Though he outwardly appears to be directing his verse at listeners, and thus his large cult fan base, the song is probably more autobiographical than the '80s bard would readily admit. Morrissey isn't proclaiming that anything is wrong with an introverted lifestyle; he's merely driving home the point that people may have regrets later in life if they let their inhibitions get the best of them. Though the song takes a dark lyrically turn at its conclusion, with Morrissey repeating a warning that the bomb will be the only thing to bring people together if love fails, it's easily one of the brightest, most bubbly of the Smiths' singalongs. Johnny Marr's guitar jangles effortlessly, while his chugging harmonica suggests a windswept train ride. Mike Joyce actually pounds away aggressively at the drum kit, but John Porter muffles Joyce's playing into additional sounds reminiscent of a railway.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyaSQLlS5e8]The Smiths - Ask, 1986 - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

2. New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle

 

During the mid-'80s, New Order began to move away from the legacy of their previous incarnation as Joy Division and pursue their own dance-influenced, electronic sound. Judged as being shallow and/or inauthentic by many of their previous fans, they were often written off as a dance-pop confection. Despite this, they managed to be one of the most influential bands of the new wave era; those who looked closely at their music also realized that it was not nearly as light as it seemed. "Bizarre Love Triangle," their highest-charting dance hit in the U.S., was a perfect example of the complex and often dark songwriting that the band produced.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xS7tFKNlyXc]Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

1. The Smiths – There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

 

"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" is undeniably one of the most touching and romantic songs in the Smiths' discography. It's a standout among standouts from the Smiths' masterpiece third album, The Queen Is Dead. Every instrument, indeed every sound in the song's four minutes, is positioned for maximum emotional impact. Johnny Marr's weepy string arrangements dominate most open spaces that Morrissey's pensive vocals don't fill. Morrissey's lyrics are painfully morbid. He sings the tale of two lovers out on the town. His protagonist doesn't want to go home, because they're not welcome there anymore. The song's most startling refrain sees the vocalist singing that if a double-decker bus or a ten-ton truck kills the pair it would be a pleasure and a privilege. Morose, forgotten, or simply depressed characters pepper most of Morrissey's songs, but "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" ups the sad-and-doomed quotient by leaps and bounds.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-cD4oLk_D0]The Smiths - There is A Light That Never Goes out - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

 

 

Depeche Mode – Stripped

 

Just as "People Are People" helped to define Depeche Mode as a catchy industrial-flavored synth act in the era of Some Great Reward, "Stripped" defined the darker trajectory and more mature subject matter the band suddenly and immediately mastered. It's unlikely there's ever been a more bleak love song to reach the popularity of "Stripped." The song's foundation is a complex blend of pounding bass beats, staccato electronic effects, and piercing keyboard notes. A sample recorded from a motorcycle serves as a constant, ratcheting background. The ominous synth washes that commence two and a half minutes in are now part of a classic, trademark sound. David Gahan's voice is processed with echo and tremolo effects. He implores his lover: "Let me see you stripped down to the bone; let me hear you make decisions without your television." He's basically asking his significant other to strip away every affectation and to shun the modern world for an extremely honest and open relationship. He's asking for an intense, possibly codependent union when he begs, "Let me hear you crying just for me." Imagery relating to the film Metropolis and industrial fumes juxtaposes with Gahan's desire to hide in the trees and lay on the grass away from it all. "Stripped" is an absolute tour de force of minimalist electronic tones and emotions for songwriter Martin Gore. Where "People Are People" seemed custom-geared to race up charts across the world, "Stripped" feels intensely personal and impenetrably gloomy. The song's unrelenting sense of dread is part of the reason it hit a nerve in so many listeners. Many of the songs on the band's next album, Music for the Masses, would follow the same formula of depression and emotional release. Though Depeche Mode would become more accomplished technically and polish its sound considerably on later releases, "Stripped" is one of the group's greatest achievements.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27yErWOeJ-o]Depeche Mode - Stripped - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

The Go-Betweens – Spring Rain

 

Robert Forster thought there was both a touch of autobiographical detail and a little Creedence Clearwater Revival somewhere in this song, which turned up on the Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express album. There is a bit of that band's rough and ready energy to be heard, though through the Go-Betweens' own particular compositional and performing edge. There's a gentle lope and swing as much breezy '60s pop as there is roots revival intensity, while Forster's singing has both a little John Fogerty in it and his own merry-yet-melancholy edge. If the recording sounds a bit lacking in spots (the drums in particular sound oddly hollow, almost like a drum machine swathed in echo), Forster's ear for a lyrical image (check the part talking about hanging one's elbow out of the window of a car) and the soaring chorus make this number a winner in the end.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8nJNT1fY1Y]The Go-Betweens - Spring rain - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Fingers Inc. – Mystery of Love

 

Mystery of Love seemed to come out of nowhere in early 1986. It sounded truly extraterrestrial: an easy enough thing to say, but how else to explain the appearance of a record that opens up your ears and excites your spirit, that is nothing less than a jump cut into the future? Much of the track's six and a half minutes is dedicated to the ebb and flow of Heard's melodies, playing against percolating percussion, hi-hat cymbal patterns, and heavily echoed handclaps. At around five minutes, a piano comes in and Owens begins to rap, testifying to a "joy and painless flowing". The track concludes with him repeating the words "love, love, love" in a joyous mantra.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhJv6qBOZbw]Fingers Inc. - Mystery Of Love (Club Mix) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Marshall Jefferson – Move Your Body (The House-Music Anthem)

 

 

Released on the seminal Trax Records in 1986, Marshall Jefferson’s pivotal “Move Your Body” single was a smash success and helped put Chicago’s dance music scene, already thriving locally for years, on the map. “Move Your Body” may also be responsible for popularizing the term “House Music”. Although the tag was in use within the scene, Jefferson’s song made the term available for any one who did not personally attend a set by Frankie Knuckles, Chip E, or Larry Heard. Anybody who has had even passing exposure to house in techno will recognize the tune (it’s been sampled and referenced myriad times).

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAR8cq5Bl94]MARSHALL JEFFERSON - MOVE YOUR BODY [The House Music Anthem] - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

 

Metallica – Master of Puppets

 

 

"Master of Puppets" is a song by the American thrash metal band Metallica, released as the only single from Master Of Puppets. It is the second and title track of the album, preceded by a shorter, high-speed typical thrash metal track, Battery. There are several such similarities between Metallica's albums Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and ...And Justice for All. Master of Puppets is also notable for its extensive use of downpicking and its long instrumental section, beginning about three and a half minutes into the song. The song, as lead singer James Hetfield explained, "deals pretty much with drugs. How things get switched around, instead of you controlling what you're taking and doing, it's drugs controlling you."

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnKhsTXoKCI]Metallica-Master Of Puppets (Lyrics) - YouTube[/ame]

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...