Monday, 30 June 2008

100 Rock Songs (71 to 80)

… and the next cluster

(71) Nine Inch Nails - Closer

“Closer” was the first song I heard from Nine Inch Nails and is the reason I love the Trent Reznor’s music so much. It has everything you would expect from Trent Reznor including the most memorable chorus, which of course includes very explicit lyrics. The album this song comes from is “The Downward Spiral”, a superbly dark and menacing album that pulls no punches. Thankfully I found a copy of the video and song that removes the expletives for those who may easily be offended. However, I think that for once the language is necessary and the song is worse without it. Enjoy the darkness and depression.

(72) Ten – The Name Of The Rose

“Who?” I hear you ask. The band is a local Manchester band called “Ten” and is the brainchild of Gary Hughes, a singer/songwriter with a unique talent to write epic melodic rock anthems. The band have released several albums since the mid-nineties but have definitely not had the recognition they deserve, which is a real shame. Gary Hughes has a great voice and writes songs that are quite frankly superb. The very best is “Name Of The Rose”, a beautiful song that switches between being a melodic ballad and a supreme hard rock anthem. A beautiful masterpiece.

(73) The Wildhearts – Do The Channel Bop

“Do The Channel Bop” from “Fishing For Luckies” is a wonderfully catchy song that really makes you want to dance around with your air guitar. At a cool seven minutes long, it is one of the longer offerings from Ginger and company. Sadly you will have to buy or borrow a copy of “Fishing For Luckies” to hear the song in all of its glory, something I would recommend because it is a great album.

(74) The Foo Fighters – New Way Home

Everybody raves on about Nirvana – and I can see why; I like them a lot too – but the Foo Fighters are vastly superior in my humble opinion. The second album by Dave Grohl and his mates, “The Colour And The Shape” is truly superb. However, if you listen to the songs that weren’t released as singles, there are some true gems there, none better than the last track “New Way Home”. I love the way it begins like any other song and then half way through simply stops and starts again very quietly before building up to a tremendous crescendo that makes you want to stomp around the room in bliss. Fantastic.

(75) Rammstein – Du Hast

I am so glad that I discovered Rammstein. For the uninitiated, they are a very loud and very heavy German rock band, who have chosen to sing in their native language and are not afraid to court controversy. That aside, they also produce some of the best rock songs I have heard. “Du Hast” is a typical offering, a real stomper. I went to see the band a couple of years ago at the MEN Arena and the crowd were jumping up and down and singing in German despite not knowing what the words meant. I have tried to translate with my limited German and sought the true meaning from the internet. I can see why they are regarded with such disdain in some quarters. Personally though I couldn’t give a damn. They are a fantastic band.

(76) Skin – The Only One

Skin were a great British rock band of the nineties who faded after three albums. Personally I thought they improved with each album so I was disappointed when it came to an end. They had a measure of chart success but as is usually the case, there were plenty of gems that only die-hard fans like myself were exposed to. “The Only One” is a great example and if you follow the link below you will hear a snippet that hopefully will convince you that they faded before their time.

(77) Ten – The Robe

“The Robe” is another epic rock anthem from the brilliant Gary Hughes and his band Ten. Clocking in at a cool nine minutes, this song is from the album of the same name and is one of their greatest contributions to the rock world. I’m sure that if this band had had the airplay they deserved then they would be playing to vast crowds worldwide. It’s such a shame. And of course the only way you can appreciate this great song is by launching an expedition for the album. Well worth the effort in my opinion since there are many other classic songs to be found.

(78) Nine Inch Nails – Star[s]uckers, Inc

As you can imagine it is difficult to tell you about this song simply because it doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. Needless to say the title above is slightly inaccurate and bizarrely I’ve managed to find a video where the many expletives and explicit lyrics are “replaced”. That said, I can’t help but love the song. Trent Reznor at his very best.

(79) Ten – The Alchemist

“Spellbound” by Ten is one of my favourite albums, with a distinctive Celtic feel to it. “The Alchemist” is a wonderful rock song that requires an air guitar to appreciate it fully. Sadly, once more, you will need to embark upon a trek to discover the majesty of the album. Good luck – once more it is worth it.

(80) Alice Cooper – Brutal Planet

After all of these years, Alice Cooper is still out there scaring audiences and young children to death with his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek. The marvellous news is that he is till producing great music. In 2000, I saw the man live for the first time for the “Brutal Planet” tour. The title track is so heavy it is brilliant and is my favourite song. Brutal.

81 to 90 to follow …

100 Rock Songs (61 To 70)

Ten more. Chronological again …

(61) Def Leppard – Desert Song

Def Leppard are huge and appeal to those whose favourite genre isn’t necessarily rock music. Their most successful albums are commercially very good, but nothing from “Hysteria” or “Pyromania” enters my list of favourite songs. Some of the band’s best songs are not those that were thrust into the American charts. The first entry for the band comes from 1993’s “Retroactive”. “Desert Song” is the first song on the album and is a mean and moody rock song that pushes all the right buttons. Those who like the commercial efforts will probably loathe this song but to me it represents the band at their brilliant best. Wonderful.

(62) Coverdale Page – Absolution Blues

“Absolution Blues” is another magnificent track from the brilliant Coverdale Page album. This track is more upbeat and Coverdale shrieks alongside Page’s guitar. What a shame they didn’t combine their talents to produce more albums. Unforgettable.

(63) Rush – Stick It Out

“Stick It Out” from the album “Counterparts” is not a typical Rush song; it is a lot heavier than they normally present to their fans with massive emphasis on the guitar and very little keyboard. Alex Lifeson uses his guitar talent to inject darkness into the song that you wouldn’t normally associate with the band. Top tune.

(64) The Wildhearts – TV Tan

The man behind the Wildhearts, the enigmatic Ginger, is a flawed genius. He has the knack to write highly infectious punky rock songs that are so addictive you play them over and over again. In my opinion he is one of the most underrated rock stars in Britain. The album “Earth versus the Wildhearts” is a work of brilliance. I heard “TV Tan” on a late night rock show and was so obsessed with it that I bought the album, playing repeatedly for months. The man can do no wrong. Brilliant.

(65) Coverdale Page – Don’t Leave Me This Way

With both Coverdale and Page being fans of the blues it was inevitable that there would be at least one bluesy song on their album. And what a song it is. “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is so breath-taking it brings tears of joy every time I hear it. Close your eyes, turn up the volume and listen to one of the best blues rock songs you will ever hear. Blues at its peak.

(66) Rush – Cut To The Chase

“Cut To The Chase” is another song from “Counterparts”, one of the best albums by Rush. Of all the songs by the band, this one is oddly addictive. Many won’t consider it to be one of their best but I find it fascinating. Again the keyboards have been minimised in favour of Alex Lifeson’s guitars to produce a great song. Sadly it is not widely available but certainly worth listening to if you are lucky enough to grab a copy of “Counterparts”

(67) Terrorvision – Discotheque Wreck

“Discotheque Wreck” is the best song from Bradford’s Terrorvision. They’re not everybody’s cup of tea but I really like the song – it’s amusing and fun.

(68) Deep Purple – Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming

When Ritchie Blackmore finally walked out on Deep Purple, I was bitterly disappointed. My favourite line up disintegrated before my eyes. I saw the band at the Manchester Apollo on that ill-fated tour and there was clear tension between Blackmore and Gillan. Blackmore’s replacement was Steve Morse and the band returned with the album “Purpendicular”. Despite the crap title, the album was terrific. “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” is the best song on that album and highlights just how good a guitarist Steve Morse is. The song is a wonderful bluesy number with great guitar. Beautiful.

(69) The Wildhearts - Caprice

“Caprice” is a fantastic song from the genius that is Ginger. Taken from the album “P.H.U.Q.”, the song shows the Wildhearts at their sonorous best. A true fist-pounder, it pushes all the right buttons and, typical of the Wildhearts, takes you on wonderfully heavy journey before ending abruptly just as you want more. Fantastic.

(70) Def Leppard – Pearl Of Euphoria

My favourite song by Def Leppard is a really obscure track from the album “Slang”. “Pearl Of Euphoria” is the last song on the album and, despite the title, is moody and dark. Sadly once again the song is not easily available so I implore you to listen to “Slang” and fast forward to the last song. You will definitely not regret it. Truly magnificent.

71 to 80 to follow …

Sunday, 29 June 2008

100 Rock Songs (51 to 60)

The next ten …

(51) Guns ‘n’ Roses – You Could Be Mine

In my opinion, “Use You Illusion II” is the greatest album created by Axl Rose and his buddies. “You Could Be Mine”, featured on the soundtrack of “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”, is the best song on the album. A true rock song. Superb.

(52) Kingdom Come – Should I?

Kingdom Come were condemned as “Led Zeppelin-clones” and its not difficult to see why. The German singer, Lenny Wolf, has a very similar voice to Robert Plant and the great band’s influence on Kingdom Come is there for all to see. That said, when I heard “Should I?” I was so impressed that I immediately bought the album. The song is terrific and is so similar to Led Zeppelin it is uncanny. Led Zeppelin fans may hate them but I think this song is a classic. Brilliant.

(53) Metallica – Enter Sandman

Metallica were always too heavy and thrashy for me. Their early stuff, to me, was a wall of deafening noise that had no direction. That’s just my opinion. “Enter Sandman” changed all that. The song is loud and heavy but it shows that the band are essentially great musicians. It is one of my favourite songs of all times. Scary.

(54) Nine Inch Nails - Wish

Trent Reznor is an innovative genius who can do nothing wrong in my view. I discovered “Wish” very recently, although it was released fifteen or so years ago. It is wonderfully dark and heavy and represents Trent Reznor at his very best. Fast drums, wailing guitars and extreme angst – pure ecstacy! I can’t stress how much I love the guy’s work. Deep, dark, nasty and brilliant!

(55) Ozzy Osbourne – No More Tears

Ozzy has blossomed since leaving Black Sabbath. The self-proclaimed “Prince Of Darkness” is at his menacing best in “No More Tears”, the title track of the album of the same name. The song is dark and heavy yet has an orchestral interlude that slots in perfectly. A great rock anthem. Menacing.

(56) Brian May And Cozy Powell - Resurrection

Somebody bought Brian May’s solo album “Back To The Light” as a Christmas present and I was not bowled over until I heard the brilliant “Resurrection”. Brian May as part of Queen has performed on many of the band’s heaviest anthems but with the aid of Cozy Powell I don’t think Queen have produced anything as good as this song. Cozy Powell’s influence is there for all to see and with Brian May at his very best as a guitarist we have a stormer of a song. Blistering.

(57) Joe Satriani – Summer Song

I saw Joe Satriani for the first time when he toured with the album “The Extremist”, probably his most successful album to date. “Summer Song” is the big hit from that album and is as the name suggests a feelgood rocker touched with Joe Satriani’s guitar virtuosity. Performed live, the entire audience jumped up and down. A wonderful tune. Heavenly

(58) Thunder – Empty City
“Empty City” from the album “Laughing On Judgement Day” is my favourite song by Thunder. It begins slowly and gradually mutates into a thoroughly decent rock monster. I love it but sadly is not available to view, sad because some of Thunder’s inferior songs can be heard all over the internet. Never mind. As before, if you get a chance to listen to “Laughing On Judgement Day” go straight to “Empty City”. You will not be disappointed.

(59) Ugly Kid Joe - Neighbor

Ugly Kid Joe came to prominence thanks to with “I Hate Everything About You”. From the same album, comes “Neighbor”, a much better song with the same tongue in cheek lyrics. The accompanying video captures the essence of the song perfectly. Very amusing.

(60) Coverdale/Page – Whisper A Prayer For The Dying

When David Coverdale and Jimmy Page got together for a one off album in 1993 they created a work of genius. I was sceptical to be honest but after listening to it, I found that the two men had combined the very best of Whitesnake and Led Zeppelin to produce something special. “Whisper A Prayer For The Dying” is typical of the album, a larger than life rock anthem. Jimmy Page’s guitar is exquisite and David Coverdale’s voice is as good as it has ever been. Colossal.

61 to 70 to follow …

Saturday, 21 June 2008

100 Rock Songs (41 to 50)

The next lot – again vaguely chronological …

(41) Guns’n’Roses – Paradise City

Forget the hype – G’n’R are/were a fantastic band and “Appetite For Destruction” was a landmark album. Initially I refused to be swept away with it all but when I heard “Paradise City” for the first time I realised that I had made a mistake. The song reaches its peak at the end when the tempo is switched to overdrive. Superb.

(42) Helloween – I Want Out

Helloween are a German rock band founded in the early eighties. “I Want Out” is a brilliant power metal anthem with driving guitars and screaming vocals – just the way I like it. Wonderful!

(43) Queensrÿche – Anarchy-X/Revolution Calling

“Operation Mindcrime” is the magnum opus of Queensrÿche, a brilliant concept album full of pure magnificence. It is certainly my favourite concept album and that includes everything produced by Rush. “Anarchy-X” and “Revolution Calling” need to be combined together in my view and start the album with an angry explosion that demonstrates the pure initial anger of the protagonist, Nicky. If you haven’t heard “operation Mindcrime” I urge you to borrow it or buy it. You won’t regret it. Revolutionary.

(44) Yngwie J. Malmsteen – Heaven Tonight

“Heaven Tonight” features Joe Lynn Turner, the former Rainbow vocalist. The song is a big eighties metal anthem by Yngwie J. Malmsteen who is a fabulous guitarist from Sweden. I really love this song due to its bombastic nature and partly due to Joe Lynn Turner’s vocals. Typical of eighties metal but I love it all the same. Pounding.

(45) Blue Murder – Ptolemy

John Sykes played guitar with David Coverdale in Whitesnake and with Phil Lynott in Thin Lizzy. With a pedigree like that it was hard to ignore his subsequent band Blue Murder. I bought the album having just heard one song called “Valley Of The Kings”, which was a totally piece of rock pomposity. However, there was one song on the album that blew it away – the incredible “Ptolemy”. This is metal at its very best. Get that air guitar ready – you will wear it out. Grandiose.

(46) Faith No More – From Out Of Nowhere

When Mike Patton joined Faith No More, the band became huge. “The Real Thing” was a superbly different album and Mike Patton added something special to the group. The opening track on the album is the brilliant “From Out Of Nowhere” and, in my opinion, the band have never written a better song. Belting.

(47) Joe Satriani – Big Bad Moon

Joe Satriani is the greatest guitar player I have ever seen, end of story. The man is a genius. I have never seen a man play the guitar so well. Normally his albums a purely instrumental but, on the album “Flying In A Blue Dream”, he actually sings on a couple of the songs. One of them is “Big Bad Moon”. Now his voice may not be perfect but who cares? The song is outstanding and my favourite by the main man. Virtuoso.

(48) AC/DC - Thunderstruck

“Thunderstruck” is my favourite post-Bon Scott song by the brilliant AC/DC. It is real head-banging fist-pounder. It is another song requiring an air guitar. Thunderous.

(49) Queensrÿche – Silent Lucidity

Queensrÿche’s follow up to “Operation Mindcrime” was “Empire”, which actually sold millions more. While the album is not as good as “Operation Mindcrime” there are some great songs on it, including my favourite by the band, a power ballad called “Silent Lucidity” that features an orchestra. The singer Geoff Tate has a raw rock voice but on “Silent Lucidity” his voice fits the power ballad style perfectly. Beautiful.

(50) Thunder – Backstreet Symphony

Thunder are brilliant. I have seen this band more times than any other and I still pop to see their annual visit to Manchester even now. The band has a lot of fun and has created some of the best rock songs to come out of the United Kingdom. They never fail to disappoint. “Backstreet Symphony” is the title track to their first album and is typical of the band. Keep going lads. Fantastic.

51 to 60 to follow …

Friday, 20 June 2008

100 Rock Songs (31 to 40)

The next bunch – again roughly chronological …

(31) Thin Lizzy – Thunder And Lightning

“Thunder And Lightning” was the last album by Thin Lizzy and arguably the best. It is certainly my favourite and heavier than a lot of their previous offerings. The title track is a great example of this. Subtle it is not. Fantastic.

(32) Yes – Owner Of A Lonely Heart

Fans of Yes are not generally fans of “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”. From a personal point of view, though, I think the song is wonderful. Okay it is a little commercial and more of a pop song than a rock song to be fair. Despite this, I think it works and Yes fans who moan should take the song on its own merits. Classy.

(33) Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers

Deep Purple reformed in 1984 with the greatest line up, the Mark IV version, with Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Ian Paice and of course Jon Lord. “Perfect Strangers” the album was the result and the title track was released as the first single. And what a song it is. I’ve seen the band a couple of times and one of the highlights is the performance of this deep and moody number complete with lasers. Excellent.

(34) Whitesnake – Slow And Easy

“Slow And Easy” is a bluesy masterpiece from Whitesnake, just before David Coverdale ditched this line up and set sail for superstardom in America. A real foot stomping song and shows Whitesnake at their very best. Unbeatable.

(35) Faith No More – We Care A Lot

“We Care A Lot” is a great song by Faith No More with a superb bass line and great lyrics. To be honesty I prefer the band when Mike Patton was singing (he’s not present on this song) and have been fortunate to see him actually perform it. Top tune.

(36) Megadeth – Peace Sells

I must admit that I didn’t really like Megadeth in the 1980’s. They were just a little too heavy for me. However, when I played “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” the song cropped up on the radio and it grew on me immensely, so much in fact that after several plays I was hooked. I rate it as one of the finest truly heavy metal songs from that decade. Heavy!

(37) Rush – Turn The Page

“Hold Your Fire” is a classic Rush album full of fabulous songs. Every song is a classic in my view and “Turn The Page” is the best of them. Turn the volume up full and ascend into prog rock heaven. Songs like this prove that Rush are the greatest band on the planet.

(38) Whitesnake – Still Of The Night

David Coverdale morphed the Whitesnake I loved into a big-haired American rock band in 1987 and stripped away the blues to produce an album full of appeal to young college students. I was sad when I first heard the album “1987”. However, one track stood out a mile. “Still Of The Night” is a masterpiece and I take my hat off to David Coverdale for giving the world this fabulous track amongst AOR banality. What’s more, the accompanying video features Tawny Kitaen – say no more! Brilliant.

(39) Aerosmith – Rag Doll

Aerosmith are massive and have produced some great music over the decades. My favourite album is the first one I bought; “Permanent Vacation” from the late eighties. I bought it on the strength of two songs, one of which is featured in this list. “Rag Doll” is a superb feelgood song. Aerosmith are also one of the best bands I have seen live. Amazing.

(40) Gary Moore – Over The Hills And Far Away

Gary Moore now sings the blues and while it is admirable that he has gone back to his roots and the music he loves, it is such a shame that he has left behind the pure belting rock music he performed in the eighties. “Over The Hills And Far Away” is a classic Celtic rock anthem, with pounding drums and violins. Unbeatable.

41 to 50 to follow …

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

100 Rock Songs (21 to 30)

Again no specific order apart from chronologically …

(21) Nazareth – No Mean City

The album “No Mean City” is one of my all time favourite albums and the title track is the best song on it. The song is a masterpiece and Dan McCafferty’s voice is at its very best. The album cover is superbly menacing (as you can see from the link below) and the song reflects the atmosphere conjured by the image. Mean and moody!

(22) Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

“Comfortably Numb” is easily the best song from the epic concept album “The Wall”. The song is beautiful and disturbing at the same time and once more Dave Gilmour’s guitar playing is exemplary. Beautiful.

(23) Judas Priest - Steeler

Judas Priest perform pure British heavy metal at its very best. The album “British Steel” was ground-breaking and “Steeler” is the last and best song from that wonderful record. Rob Halford has a unique voice perfectly crafted to sing heavy metal anthems. You’ll need that air guitar again. Metal!

(24) Thin Lizzy – Killer On The Loose

I miss Phil Lynott. Thin Lizzy were a superb band who wrote chart friendly rock music and were wildly popular in the 1970’s. “Killer On The Loose” is a sinister head banger that is darker than their usual offerings. Menacing!

(25) Rush – Red Barchetta

1981 was a formidable year for me musically because I discovered the best band on the planet. I am talking of course about the Canadian power trio, Rush. They are by far my favourite band and I can listen to their music all day long. “Red Barchetta” is from the album “Moving Pictures” and is one of my favourite tracks of all time. Listen to the song and you will feel a deep euphoria. Awesome!

(26) Whitesnake – Don’t Break My Heart Again

David Coverdale conquered America with Whitesnake in 1987 and many of those fans are unaware that before then, Whitesnake were a bluesy rock band. I prefer the band from that period, with Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and of course the legendary Deep Purple keyboard player, Jon Lord. For the album “Come An’ Get It” Deep Purple’s Ian Paice was also in the band. “Don’t Break My Heart Again” is my favourite song by the band. Bluesy.

(27) Gillan – Bite The Bullet

The best Gillan album is “Future Shock” and the best song on that album is “Bite The Bullet”. It is another blistering fist pounder from Ian Gillan, ably supported by the thumping brilliance of Mick Underwood on the drums. The song reaches an amazing crescendo and once more leaves you shell shocked. It’s a shame it isn’t widely available but believe me, if you get the chance to listen to “Future Shock” you will love this song. Unbelievable.

(28) Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills

When Bruce Dickinson joined Iron Maiden, the improvement was there for all to see. The band have never looked back, with album after brilliant album. However, my favourite song by the band came from that first album with Bruce Dickinson way back in 1981. “Run To The Hills” is from the album “The Number Of The Beast” and is classic heavy metal at its most excellent. Get that air guitar ready again. Screamer.

(29) Jim Steinman – Stark Raving Love

Jim Steinman is the man behind the success of Meat Loaf and his “Bat Out Of Hell” trilogy of albums. In 1981, however, Jim Steinman released his own album called “Bad For Good” which I actually prefer to the massive “Bat Out Of Hell”. I don’t think that Steinman has the greatest voice, yet the songs more than make up for this. “Stark Raving Love” is a magnificent Steinman grand musical opus which Steinman himself sampled for Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero”. The original is the best and contains magnificent guitar work as the song reaches a superb crescendo. Again, it’s a shame its not widely available but the song is brilliant. Epic.

(30) Rush – The Analog Kid

The first Rush album I bought was “Signals” and I was lucky enough to see them for the first time in 1982 when they toured with the album. I couldn’t get enough of the band and it wasn’t long before their previous albums were also in my collection. “The Analog Kid” is a great little song that is typical of the band. Terrific.

31 to 40 to follow …

100 Rock Songs (11 to 20)

The next instalment – vaguely chronological …

(11) Nazareth – Freewheeler

From the album “Loud ’n’ Proud”, “Freewheeler” is a bouncy little rock track that gets me bouncing along with it. I love Nazareth, especially Dan McCafferty’s gravely voice. This song is typical of the band in the 1970’s and is highly infectious. Sadly, it is not widely available for you to enjoy but if you get the chance ever, listen to “Loud ‘n’ Proud” and I’m sure you will agree with me.

(12) Rainbow - Stargazer

When Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple he went on to form his own band called Rainbow. The band’s second album, “Rising”, is arguably the greatest rock album of the 1970’s – it is certainly my favourite album. The line up included Ronnie James Dio, one of the greatest rock vocalists ever and Cozy Powell, one of the greatest drummers. “Stargazer” is the band’s magnum opus, clocking in at an amazing eight and a half minutes. Epic.

(13) Rainbow – A Light In The Black

Also from “Rising”, the song “A Light In The Black” is a kind of sequel to “Stargazer”. Also clocking in at eight minutes plus, the song is as good (if not better) than “Stargazer” and features great keyboard/guitar solos accompanied magnificently by the power of Cozy Powell pummelling the drums. Side two of “Rising” features “Stargazer” followed immediately by “A Light In The Black” giving the listener almost seventeen minutes of rock bliss. Titanic!

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

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is simply brilliant. I bought the album “Agents Of Fortune” on the strength of this song, and while the remainder of the album is fairly average, this song stands out like a skyscraper in a field. I particularly like the guitar solo that splits the song, giving it the menace that the title implies. Classic.

(15) Pink Floyd – Sheep

“Animals” is a bizarre addition to the Pink Floyd catalogue but includes my favourite song by the band. “Sheep” has everything element I love about the band. The song is menacing and when I first heard it I thought to myself, how can a song about sheep be menacing? Listen to it – it is. I particularly like the final guitar piece with Dave Gilmour at his very best. Amazing.

(16) AC/DC – Whole Lotta Rosie

AC/DC are incredible, creating exciting rock songs that never cease to amaze. The band has faced major adversity; when their charismatic first vocalist Bon Scott died it seemed like the band wouldn’t survive. Yet it did. “Whole Lotta Rosie” is my favourite song of the Bon Scott years and shows just what a superb band they are. I rate Angus Young as one of the greatest guitarists. Brilliant.

(17) The Scorpions – We’ll Burn The Sky

The Scorpions have been around for years, despite the fact that the majority of people think that they were one hit wonders with the ballad “Wind Of Change” (which incidentally I can’t stand). In the 1970’s I bought “Tokyo Tapes”, a live recording in (you’ve guessed it) Japan. The album captures The Scorpions at their very best and the song “We’ll Burn The Sky” is the peak of that superb album. At over eight minutes it is part ballad and part rock blockbuster. Listen to the song and get your air guitar ready at the end. I promise you, you will love it. Mesmerizing.

(18) UFO – Lights Out

The first rock album I bought was “Strangers In The Night” by UFO, a live album recorded in Chicago. I played it to death, so much in fact that it is barely survived. The album shows UFO at their peak, in my view. “Lights Out” is a typical fist pounding song from the album. You’ll need that air guitar again …

(19) UFO – Rock Bottom

… and don’t put it down. From the same album, the song “Rock Bottom” is the greatest song that UFO have ever penned. The version on “Stranger’s In The Night” is pure perfection. Clocking in at a jaw-breaking eleven and a half minutes it represents the band at their zenith.

(20) Gillan - Roller

“Roller” from Ian Gillan’s “Mr Universe” album is a great little rock number. Sadly, again, it is not widely available but if you get the chance to listen to “Mr Universe”, crank up the volume and enjoy “Roller” in all its glory. Explosive.

21 to 30 to follow ...

Sunday, 15 June 2008

100 Rock Songs (1 To 10)

It was very difficult to whittle down my vast collection of rock music to a mere one hundred songs but I managed it. Here and for the next few posts, I will try to reveal those rock classics I have loved and still love over the decades. These songs are unbeatable in my eyes so here goes – again the order is chronological because as difficult as it was to trim the list to one hundred, it would be impossible to order them.

Enjoy …

(1) Led Zeppelin – Dazed And Confused

Led Zeppelin were one of the pioneers of rock music and, as this song demonstrates, have their roots firmly in blues music. Lyrically this song is a triumph. Robert Plant’s voice is at its brilliant best; Jimmy Page is a master on the guitar; John Paul Jones is a maestro on the bass guitar; Jon Bonham is a legend. Magnificent.

(2) Deep Purple – Child In Time

Talking of pioneers, Deep Purple are up there with Led Zeppelin. Deep Purple, whose career spans decades, were and are still one of my favourite bands of all time. Over the years, they have produced many classics songs. “Child In Time” is one of my favourites and epitomizes the band at their very best. Ian Gillan’s vocal range is immense and this song demonstrates this range to the full. Of all the line ups, the “Mark IV” is my favourite. Ritchie Blackmore shows why he is regarded as one of the top guitarists in the world, and is ably accompanied by Ian Paice, John Lord and Roger Glover. Legendary.

(3) Pink Floyd – One Of These Days

I first heard “One Of These Days” on a compilation album containing so-called “dance songs” by Pink Floyd, a band I would hardly describe as a creator of dance music. That said, the song does appeal to a wider range of people than your average Pink Floyd track, simply because you could dance to it, if you were so inclined, I guess. Personally I wouldn’t do so but that’s just me. The opening bass, drums and keyboard set the scene beautifully before the guitar joins the party. For me, the appeal is not the fact that it is a foot-tapper; there is a menacing undertone that becomes evident later on when the distorted vocal appears, for a few seconds only. Brilliant.

(4) Deep Purple – Highway Star

“Highway Star” is my favourite song by Deep Purple. Putting it simply this song is the quintessential classic rock track. I have been lucky enough to see the “Mark IV” line up perform the song in their later years, before Ritchie Blackmore called it a day finally, and it was the highlight of the concert for me. It does not get any better than this.

(5) Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven

This song is arguably Led Zeppelin at their peak. I can’t listen to this song without tears of pure joy running down my cheeks. From the faultless acoustic beginning, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page lead us through perfection and eventually the bass and drums join to help us all reach a crescendo of pure ecstasy of classic rock heaven. Wonderful.

(6) Alice Cooper – Elected

How can this song have passed me by for so many years? Well in 1972 when the song was released I was too young to appreciate it – in fact I don’t actually recall ever hearing it in the seventies. All that changed when I saw Alice Cooper live about six years ago. “Elected” was the encore and the die hard Alice Cooper fans almost exploded in rapture. I was so enthralled that I went on a crusade to discover this masterpiece and haven’t looked back since. Unbelievably good.

(7) Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick

“Thick As A Brick” isn’t just a song – it is a dazzling concept album, performed with tongue firmly implanted in cheek. It is a fun album from an eccentric rock star, the unique Ian Anderson. Sadly the excerpt below doesn’t do the album justice. You really must listen to it in its entirety to fully appreciate just how good it is. Magnificent.

(8) Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Black Sabbath are much maligned and extremely misunderstood. People who know nothing about the band and their origins just assume that the songs are played in satanic devil worship rituals. Those people should read about the band and listen to the music – especially the lyrics. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is the best song the band has written, for me typifying why this legendary band has so many fans and are the inspiration for many later bands. Dark and scary!

(9) Pink Floyd - Money

The album “Dark Side Of The Moon” propelled Pink Floyd into the stratosphere. I love the album and “Money” is the biggest diamond amongst the gems. Dave Gilmour’s guitar work on the track is tremendous and invites every rock fan to pick up their air guitars. Breath-taking.

(10) Lynyrd Skynyrd - Freebird

“Freebird” is one of those songs that most people know or at least have heard of. Why? Well, simply because “Freebird” is one of the best classic rock anthems of all time. The first half of the song is a classic piece of melodic rock before in the second half, the band cranks up several gears and ascends into an epic guitar solo that takes the listener into rock heaven.

11 to 20 to follow ...

Sunday, 8 June 2008

100 Pop Songs (91 to 100)

The home straight - again roughly chronological ...

(91) Supergrass – Moving

This is another great song by Supergrass; at the time the band could so nothing wrong in my eyes. Great song!

(92) A-ha – Minor Earth Major Sky

I was amazed when I heard that one of my favourite bands of the eighties had reformed in 2000. I discovered by accident really when I saw the video for “Minor Earth Major Sky” on MTV Russia whilst sitting in a boring hotel room on the outskirts of Moscow in the middle of winter. I had nothing to do but watch music all night – but if I hadn’t done that I would never have discovered this masterpiece. Beautiful.

(93) Moby - Rushing

Moby is another artist I would never have admitted to liking. At a dinner party, our host put on the album “Play” by Moby as background music and I found myself drawn to it and away from the conversation. It is a superb chill out album of which “Rushing” is a cool and wonderful example of how brilliant it is. I bought the album the next day.

(94) Moby - Porcelain

“Porcelain” is the best song on “Play” – it is a real spine tingler. Perfect for chilling out to.

(95) Gary Numan – RIP

How Gary Numan has changed over the years. This song is a magnificently dark song is more reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails than the early eighties stuff. He has certainly improved with age.

(96) Coldplay – God Put A Smile Upon Your Face

I always thought that Coldplay were a flash in the pan, loved by pseudo intellectuals and those who claimed to like “intelligent” music with pretentious lyrics and boring tunes. And I stood by that until I heard two songs by the band. The first, “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” is a wonderful song with a great thought-provoking video …

(97) Coldplay – Clocks

… and the second is the beautiful “Clocks”. Such was the appeal of the opening piano on the song that I immediately made it my mobile phone ring tone – at least for a while. It is a truly beautiful song.

(98) Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot

I loved this song the very second I heard it. It a great piece of pop music with a fantastic chorus that sticks like glue into the depths of your subconscious mind. I was so impressed that I bought the album.

(99) Kaiser Chiefs – Caroline, Yes

And from that album, full of great songs, comes “Caroline, Yes”. This was not a single but there is something I love about the song. Like the previous song, it stays in your head – but not in bad way. Brilliant

(100) Kasabian – Empire

Kasabian are a great band and their singles have been superb. “Empire” is the opening epic track from their second album and the accompanying video is as epic as the song. Impressive.

And that’s it for “pop” songs – I think I’ll struggle to cut down my favourite “rock” songs to a mere 100 but I think I’ll have a go …

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

100 Pop Songs (81 to 90)

Not long to go now ...

(81) Air – All I Need

“All I Need” is another beautiful song by Air from the album “Moon Safari”. Again, it’s a mellow masterpiece but with the added bonus of having a wonderful vocalist (Beth Hirsch) whose voice is truly gorgeous. A spine-tingler of a song.

(82) Apollo 440 – Lost In Space

As a kid, I loved the series “Lost In Space” and the theme tune was excellent. I was delighted when the series was made into a film but must admit to being quite disappointed when I finally saw it. However, the one good thing was the version of the original theme produced by Apollo 440, a true rocker of a song.

(83) Blur – Song 2

Blur never ceased to amaze me. I’ve never been a real fan of the band but in the numerous songs they have produced a couple of sparklers, none better than “Song 2” with Blur at their rocking best. Short and powerful.

(84) Depeche Mode - Home

“Home” is the most moving song that Depeche Mode have ever written. The album “Ultra” is my second favourite album by the band and this is the best song on that album. Still brings a tear to my eyes.

(85) Oasis – D’ya Know What I Mean

The album “Be Here Now” was the most hyped album I have come across in recent years and I was sucked in alongside every other person who lived “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory”. When this single was released I thought to myself “This band is just getting better and better”. Sadly, the rest of the album is a massive disappointment. However, the band hasn’t produced a track as superb as this. Epic.

(86) Radiohead – Karma Police

Radiohead are one of those bands you either love or hate; to be honest I don’t really like them. There are a couple of exceptional tracks though, “Karma Police” being the best by some distance. This is also a case where the video sold the song to me. The song is depressing and the video more so – but both are brilliant. The video in particular is one of my favourites of the nineties.

(87) Republica – Ready To Go

“Ready To Go” is an infectious pop song, given a rock feel for its release as a single. Great beat, great vocals, great chorus and used on loads of sports programmes. Awesome.

(88) Supergrass – Richard III

I really like “Richard III”, a great little rocker from a superb band. I wasn’t too keen on them at first but over the years they have grown on me a lot.

(89) Garbage – I Think I’m Paranoid

I really loved “Stupid Girl” but when I heard “I Think I’m Paranoid” I was totally blown away by it, so much so that I bought the album. I love everything about the song, the vocals, the guitars the drums. An awesome song!

(90) Roxette – I Wish I Could Fly

There aren’t many songs as beautiful as “I Wish I Could Fly” by Roxette. Wonderful – what more can I say?

91 to 100 to follow ....

Monday, 2 June 2008

100 Pop Songs (71 to 80)

Very roughly chronological again ...

(71) R.E.M. – Man On The Moon

I loved “Man On The Moon”, the biopic of Andy Kaufman, played superbly by Jim Carrey. To be honest I’d only seen Andy Kaufman in Taxi playing Latka Gravas and had no idea he was such a tragic cult figure. R.E.M.’s song of the same name also refers to Andy Kaufman and stands out in its own right.

(72) The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil

“Sympathy For The Devil” is an absolute classic from the legendary Rolling Stones. Released initially in 1968, I didn’t really listen to it in anger until 1994 when Guns ’n’ Roses released a superb cover of the song. I was so impressed that I dug out the original – only to find it was much better. Top tune!

(73) Pulp – I Spy

“Common People” was a classic from the album “Different Class” and it almost made it into this list. The only thing that stopped it was an even better track from the same album called “I Spy” which I think defines Pulp at their very best. Epic!

(74) Iggy Pop – Lust For Life

Everybody loved the film “Trainspotting” but for me the highlight was the fantastic “Lust For Life” from the incomparable Iggy Pop. This song has everything I love in a song; mad lyrics, pounding stomping beat and sung by an eccentric. Perfect!

(75) The Lightning Seeds With Frank Skinner and David Baddiel – Three Lions

Now I know that David Baddiel can’t sing and that Frank Skinner’s voice is bizarre, but this song is by far the best football song ever written. I was totally caught up in Euro 96, especially as it was in England and the highlight was the 4-1 destruction of Holland with the England crowd singing “It’s Coming Home, It’s Coming Home, It’s Coming. Football’s Coming Home”. Brings tears to my eyes.

(76) Massive Attack - Teardrop

In the mid-nineties I was introduced to the concept of “chill out” music; although in my opinion such music had existed for many years it gained a name and therefore became cool. Cool or not, “Teardrop” is a supreme example of this style of music and I swear there is nothing better than listening to it in a darkened room with candles, cuddling the woman you love. Massive!

(77) Morcheeba - Bulletproof

Moving on with the chill out theme, “Big Calm” by Morcheeba is another outstanding album full of wonderful relaxing songs. One of my favourites is the excellent “Bulletproof” …

(78) Morcheeba – The Sea

… but the best and coolest song on the album is “The Sea”, which conjures up an image of lying on a beach watching the world go by while sipping an ice cold glass of white wine with the one you love. Absolutely amazing!

(79) Robbie Williams – Let Me Entertain You

It seemed incredible that I could ever like anything from the pop machine that brought the world “Take That!” I despise boy bands with every cell in my ageing body and would love to ban bands like “Boyzone”, “Westlife” etc. to a desert island with no recording equipment of any kind. But there is an exception and that is Robbie Williams, who has produced a couple of gems – none better than this magnificent song with its accompanying Kiss-tribute video.

(80) Air – Le Femme D’Argent

“Moon Safari” is in my top five pop albums of all time and the French duo are the masters of producing atmospheric and ambient chill out music. Of all the beautiful tracks on that album, none is better than the epic opener, “La femme d’argent”, an instrumental masterpiece. Turn up the volume, turn down the lights, light those candles and lie down with you loved one in acoustic bliss.

81 to 90 to follow ...

Sunday, 1 June 2008

100 Pop Songs (61 to 70)

Vaguely chronological again ...

(61) Sisters Of Mercy – This Corrosion

Again, this song probably qualifies as a rock song but what the hell, it’s a little too gothic for that in my opinion so I’m including it as a pop song. The video introduced me to the band (I had never heard of them before) and I was so impressed that I bough the album “Floodland” as a result, only to find that the album version of this song was twice the length, a fantastic surprise.

(62) Sisters Of Mercy – Lucretia, My Reflection

“Floodland” is an outstanding album and this song is another diamond. I love how dark the song is and the constant bass line and drum beat add to the menacing overtones of the vocals. Gothic rock at its zenith.

(63) Julian Cope – World, Shut Your Mouth

Another foot stomper from the unique talent that is Julian Cope, with a pounding drum beat and a highly infectious sing-a-long chorus.

(64) Billy Idol – Hot In The City

I missed the original version of this song in 1982 but caught the remixed and re-released version in 1987. I don’t know what purists think but the latter remixed version is much more of a stomper than its predecessor.

(65) Julian Cope – Charlotte Anne

This is a stunning song that is unlike the previous other tracks I’ve listed from Julian Cope. Unlike those songs, “Charlotte Anne” is a bit of a spine-tingler for me. A timeless classic.

(66) Depeche Mode - Clean

Depeche Mode were very prominent in the early eighties, coming across as a squeaky clean pure pop band. Those early songs were okay but didn’t set my world alight. All that changed with the album “Violator” where the band suddenly took a different direction with a harder and darker edge to their music. It is still one of my favourite albums and the best track is the brilliant “Clean”, that reminds me in places of Pink Floyd.

(67) Enya – Caribbean Blue

Sometimes there is nothing better than to relax listening to a little bit of atmospheric music and there are few artists who produce more calming and beautiful music than Enya. From the album “Shepherd Moons”, this song is so exquisite that it makes me want to cry.

(68) R.E.M. – Losing My Religion
I loved this song the moment I heard it. REM had been around for a while and were about to become huge. Thankfully, before they released “Shiny Happy People”, this song just crawled into the top twenty and was proof for me that the band was much more than a producer of pop pap (which “Shiny Happy People” had in abundance).

(69) Richard Marx – Hazard

I hate the likes of Michael Bolton and other purveyors of sentimental AOR bilge and when I heard Richard Marx’s first big single “Right Here Waiting For You” I despised it with venom. A couple of years later, he released “Hazard” and I was flabbergasted. It is a beautiful sad AOR ballad that I never thought I would like. Lyrically it is wonderful and is yet another song that sadly makes me blub like a baby. Wonderful!

(70) Depeche Mode – I Feel You

My favourite song by Depeche Mode is “I Feel You” from the follow up to “Violator” called “Songs Of Faith And Devotion”. It is even darker than their previous singles and is a real heavy stomper of a song that is totally different from ay of their earlier poppy efforts. Pounding drums and guitar – something I would never have expected. Delightful!

71 to 80 to follow ...

100 Pop Songs (51 to 60)

Broadly chronological ...

(51) Electric Light Orchestra – Here Is The News

ELO surprised me with “Here Is The News” from the album “Time”. The violins etc. seemed to have been replaced by synthesizers, though the feel of the song is typical of the band. A great song.

(52) Electric Light Orchestra – Ticket To The Moon

From the same album as the previous song, “Ticket To The Moon” and is probably the most beautiful song they have ever performed. It is a supremely nostalgic song for me, bringing back both sweet and melancholy memories. This is ELO at their very best.

(53) Iggy Pop – The Passenger

I have made such a drunken fool of myself in the past dancing around on the dance floor with no respect for the safety of other dancers as I jump about waving my arms and singing to this magnificent tune. When I look back, it is embarrassing in the extreme but I must admit that even now I can’t resist occasionally coming out of retirement at weddings etc. whenever the DJ puts this on.

(54) Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels

From “Songs From The Big Chair”, this is a superb and stunning pop song that almost brings tears to my eyes even today some twenty years later. It summarizes why Tears For Fears were one of the best pop bands of the eighties.

(55) U2 – The Unforgettable Fire

There are so many classic songs by U2. However, you have to go back to the mid eighties, even before “The Joshua Tree” to find my favourite song by the band. From the album of the same name, “The Unforgettable Fire” is an epic pop song that exceeds anything they have done since.

(56) A-ha – I’ve Been Losing You

A-ha have produced some of my favourite pop songs of all time. I was slightly embarrassed to admit to liking them initially but their output was the very best quality. Their best album in the eighties was “Scoundrel Days” and this is the best song on that album. I was lucky enough to see the band in 1986 and this was the opening song in a superb set.

(57) Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It

This song is my favourite song by Talk Talk and I played it to death upon its release. The best song from a great band.

(58) Black – Wonderful Life

The video accompanying this splendid song adds to its appeal. It is certainly one of my favourite videos of the eighties, moody and magnificent and perfect for the song. “Wonderful Life” is a truly wonderful song.

(59) Julian Cope - Trampoline

There aren’t many songs as catchy as “Trampoline” by the eccentric Julian Cope. This was the first solo effort I heard after “The Teardrop Explodes” and in a way it is as infectious as the brilliant “Reward” that I listed earlier.

(60) New Order – True Faith

Talking of eccentricity, New Order must have had a mad moment when the concept for the video accompanying “True Faith” was conceived. That said, it is a work of pure genius and as odd as it is, for me it complements the song flawlessly.

61 to 70 to follows