So Much Good Music In My World

But Some Of It Is Just That Little Bit More Special To Me.

Recently, I found a blog post from days gone by when one chiseled the words onto a stone tablet and downloaded it off of a rubbing that one made: you know, the days of yore (or as we know it, 2006). It seemed like a good idea to revisit and see what has changed.  And, fuck me; most of the list did not change. This does not mean that great music has not happened in the past 7 ½ years, because it has. Adele and Joe Bonamassa are both close to being in this list. Joe Strummer and his brilliant band, The Mescaleros, did make the list.

But at its core, the songs remained the same, so to speak. The only changes to my top ten were “Global A-Gogo” and “Fascination Street”. The metrics for creating the list were quite simple: what do I like the most and what do I find myself wanting to listen to at times of intense emotional need. What these songs have in common is intense emotional arousal in me – whether it is sadness, anger or whatever.  And, with the exception of Bob Marley and Jeff Buckley, I have had the pleasure of seeing these acts live:  some of them many times.
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1 “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones.

To me this is everything that makes great rock and roll. You have the greatest, baddest band of all time at the peak of their powers talking about the Altamont and one of the low points of their career. It is a great guitar riff, with great vocals and an incredible counterpoint joined together in rock music perfection. Not only is this my favourite rock song of all, but I consider it the greatest rock song of all time .  And it’s Mick ‘n’ Keef …

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2 “Love Reign O’er Me” by The Who.

I love the discordant piano into to this song. I love the Quadrophenia story. I love the back story of Pete having a breakdown writing the music for Quadrophenia . But Roger Daltry gives his greatest performance as a member of The Who on this song and it transcends everything else in this and takes a great piece of music and propels it into the realm of true genius.

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3 “London Calling” by The Clash.

This was the only band that matters: and I think, for my generation, it may still be true. I consider myself to be a North London punk, I am from the real punk rock generation, and this is my band. And this is my song by my band. This is the time and place where my politics became firmly entrenched in the left. The Clash were brilliant, militant musicians and revolutionaries: and I was just a rat following the pied piper of punk – Joe Strummer.

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4 “Celluloid Heroes” by The Kinks

Ray Davies writes great songs. Dave Davies is a great guitarist. Together they were nitroglycerine of such instability that the Gallagher brother can only be seen as pale imitations. Over the years, the Kinks set themselves as true forerunners of punk. But this wonderful, poignant piece is so sad and so beautiful that it still moves me forty years after it was written.

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5 “Global A-Go-Go” by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros

There is so much joy and such sadness when I think about Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. Joe was having an amazing renaissance and producing music that featured amazing world beats fused with politics and tempered by age and experience. It was, in many ways, the equal to his original burst of work with The Clash and I can only begin to imagine what he would have done if that generous, wonderful heart had not given out. To this day, I miss Joe Strummer more than any musician who has passed on but I have this song that I consider his personal gift to me…


6 “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley & The Wailers

Bob Marley would be one of the four faces on my musical Mount Rushmore (Joe Strummer would be there too). I learned about him and Peter Tosh and Eek-A-Mouse from my dad’s West Indian cricketing buddies during the hot summer of 1976. To this day I listen to lots of reggae and ska and I still love Bob Marley and The Wailers. I love “Exodus” and “Three Little Birds” and all of his great music, but “No Woman, No Cry” is my favourite live track of all time. The organ is so cool and when you see film of The Wailers performing it live and moving in unison as they play. … wow!

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7 “One” by Metallica

Let’s face it, even crap Metallica (Load and Re-Load, perhaps) are miles better than most bands best. But “One” is them at their very best on their best album ….And Justice For All. It uses one of their traditional formats with a long bridge complete with tempo change (that double kick bass is intense, why doesn’t Lars collapse in a cramping heap?) and Johnny Got His Gun is also one of my favourite novels of all time so when a great band makes a great song about it …

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8 “Fascination Street” by The Cure

It’s all about the bass on this Cure song. I am assured of this by the bass playing number two daughter whose learning the bass line for this song is ranked ahead of graduating from high school in terms of her achievements (and I still cannot figure out how she managed to graduate).

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9 “Madman Across The Water” by Elton John

While drug addiction, self loathing and questioning one’s sexual identity are terrible things for a person to endure, it definitely fueled a creative frenzy in Elton John. And while many people point to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road as his greatest album of the ‘70s, I personally prefer Madman Across The Water and the revised version of the title track is my favourite song on the album. To this day, I can put this album on and instantly I am in a reflective mood and harkening back to the glory days of Watford Town FC as a force in football and I was a kid on the terraces watching.

10 jeff buckley
10 “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” by Jeff Buckley

You can feel the pain on this: so much heartbreak, so much need; so much love. The Grace album is the only album made before his untimely death; but it is one of the truly epic American masterpieces. In my opinion, this song is the best song on an album where every song is great.

The almost made it list:

11 “Alone, Again Or” by The Damned (That dynamic flamenco riff slays me)
12 “Down Around My Place” by John Hiatt (Brilliant)
13 “Hurt” by Johnny Cash (The greatest cover of all time)
14 “Little Wing” by Stevie Ray Vaughan (Guitar virtuosity that is incomplete)
15 “Shadowplay” by Joy Division (RIP Ian Curtis – you are still one of my heroes)
16 “Adam Raised A Cain” by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (Power and pain)
17 “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band (Better than any Beatles stuff)
18 “Run Like Hell” by Pink Floyd (Brilliant music for when I am angry and want to take it up a notch)
19 “Cradle Rock” by Rory Gallagher (Another of my guitar heroes – this is his best)
20 “Blue Jean Blues” by ZZ Top (Texas blues at its best)
21 “Ballad Of John Henry” by Joe Bonamassa (Check out the live BCC version sometime)
22 “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele (Overplay could not kill this song – she is phenomenal)
23 “It’s a Beautiful Day” by U2 (This never fails to cheer me up)
24 “Let It Be” by The Beatles (The greatest goodbye of all time)
25 “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police (always makes me dance around the house)

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