Saturday, March 1, 2014

Greatest Songs in the History of the Universe

There are a number of songs that I keep returning to throughout my life, and they act as a sort of re-set, a yardstick for all others to be measured against. If there's a brand spankin' new fave tune in 2014, for example, it has to stand against "Sweet Jane" in order for me to comprehend where it belongs in the great rock & roll continuum. So I had this notion to compile those songs on a single mix. It seemed do-able at the time.

What I neglected to take into account was the sheer amount of stone cold classics I would be dealing with. That might seem like an obvious oversight - it's certainly obvious to me now.  So then it became a matter of defining exactly what basis I'd have for including a track on the mix, and then attempting to remain consistent. What I ended up doing was focusing on the songs that are my bedrock. These are the songs that created my music preferences, for better or worse, and I can project forward or back from all of these songs to account for pretty much everything I like. Obviously I had to make some harsh omissions: there's barely anything from the 50s and 60s, there's no reggae, no soul or R&B or girl groups or anything recorded within the past 30 years. But like I said, all of those genres and eras are referenced directly or indirectly somewhere in these 22 tunes.

There's some odd choices, for sure. Out of the entire Stiff Little Fingers discography, I picked an obscure deep cut over "Alternative Ulster" or "Roots Radicals Rockers and Reggae" - and the only explanation I can offer is that I just fuckin' love "Silver Lining." Ditto picks from the Stones and the Ramones. And what's a Michel Pagliaro track doing on here? I dunno, man. That song just spears me between the ears. Sometimes it's just the little details in the arrangement that push a song over the top for me. I've been listening to Mott the Hoople's "All The Way From Memphis" for over 40 years now, and I still get shivers during the instrumental coda when Mick Ralphs' guitar shoulder-checks Andy MacKay's sax outta the way and rides the song home. That stuff is magic. It's alchemy. It's catching lightning in a jar. And each of these tracks caught it.

And yeah, I'm sure I've missed many of your favorite tracks, so leave a comment telling me which one(s). I'd love to read them, plus they might force me to compile a second (or third) volume.

Look Out Honey 'Cuz I'm Using Technology

1. Ve1vet Underground Sweet Jane
2. Mott the Hoop1e All The Way From Memphis
3. Chaap Trick Southern Girls (Albini mix)
4. Big Star September Gurls
5. Ro11ing Stones Sway
6. The Sex Pisto1s Holidays in the Sun
7. The Beat1es Revolution
8. The Undertones Teenage Kicks
9. The On1y Ones Another Girl, Another Planet
10. Genya Ravan Jerry's Pigeons
11. The Saints Know Your Product
12. Bruce Springstaen Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
13. Pretanders Precious
14. Iggy & the Staoges Search and Destroy
15. The Heartbreakers Born to Lose
16. The New York Do11s Personality Crisis
17. The Ram0nes Swallow My Pride
18. A1ice Cooper Under My Wheels
19. Stiff Litt1e Fingers Silver Lining
20. Pag1iaro Time Race
21. Faces Ooh La La
22. Patti Smith Gloria


Anonymous said...

Rock N Roller Skates!

Roy Pearl said...

I endorse the above sentiment. Everybody - EVERYBODY - needs to buy the new Breakdowns album.

biopunk said...

These are so tough!

I'd have to add:

(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures - Rezillos
Bastards of Young - Replacements
Baby Baby - The Vibrators
Cold Flame - Flesh for Lulu
Peace Dog - The Cult
Tommy Gun or Complete Control - The Clash
Gudbuy T'Jane - Slade
Na Na Na - Cozy Powell
Rub A Dub Dub - The Equals
The Hippy Hippy Shake - The Swinging Blue Jeans
EFL vs Concrete - Snuff

My Stiff Little Fingers pick would be Straw Dogs or the glorious Good For Nothing

Ramones - Rockaway Beach
Sex Pistols - Did You Know Wrong
V.U. - Foggy Notion

I couldn't pick one single fave Stooges song to save my life, but Know Your Product works as a Saints pick for me.

Roy Pearl said...

All cool choices, biopunk! I actually had both those Slade and Ramones tracks on an early version of the mix, and it killed me to cut "Bastards of Young."

As for the Clash, I was considering "Safe European Home," "White Man In Hammersmith Palaise," and even their version of "Police and Thieves." Ended up with none of it.

Vibrators pick might have been "Whips and Furs," but you can't go wrong with "Baby Baby."

"Hippy Hippy Shake" is all kindsa awesome.

Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head:

Final Solution - Pere Ubu
I Wanna Destroy You - Soft Boys
Needle in the Camel's Eye - Eno
All the Young Dudes - Mott
Hang on to Yourself - Bowie
Road Runner - Modern Lovers
Death or Glory - Clash
You're a Disease - Outcasts
Roots Radicals... - SLF (sorry!)


Roy Pearl said...

Yeah Finchy, "Roadrunner" was another one on the 2.5 hour version of the mix. Would've probably picked "Suffragette City" or "Queen Bitch" for Bowie. Soft Boys and Eno are solid choices - no arguments here.

Anonymous said...

Roy, Have you checked out Jonny Cola and the A-Grades? Seems like they'd be your kinda thing. My favorite new album this year so far (actually a '13 release).


Dr. Detroit said...

Well done, my friend. I've attempted something like this several times and my ears started to bleed. I took this as a sign to stop.


Dr. Detroit said...

Think Eddie Cochran meeting Johnny Thunders at a keg party hootenanny and shamelessly, though effectively, steamrolling through everything from Jimmy Reed to Thin Lizzy and I'm there.

“Sick of Drugs” – The Wildhearts
“The Myzsterious Mizster Jones” – Slade
“Achoo” – Sparks
“The Tracks of My Tears” – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
“Won’t Get Fooled Again” – The Who
“Dead Flowers” – Rolling Stones
“The Hard Way” – The Kinks
“Rock n’ Roll Star” – Oasis
“Street Life” – Roxy Music
“She’s So Modern” – The Boomtown Rats
“Just Another Night” – Ian Hunter
“You Tell Me Lies” – Freddy Lynxx & the Jet Boys
“Juju Man” – Dave Edmunds
“The Slider” – T.Rex
“Sweet Suburbia” – The Skids
“Wrong Side of the Moon” – Squeeze
“Cherry Baby” – Starz
“Frenchette” – David Johansen
“Border Radio” – The Blasters
“Take the Cash (K.A.S.H.)” – Wreckless Eric
“Ma Ma Ma Belle” – ELO
“He’s a Whore” – Cheap Trick

Roy Pearl said...

That would make an awesome mix, Dr. Detroit. All great songs, especially love "Just Another Night" and "He's a Whore" and "You Tell Me Lies" and...

I'll have to do another volume. Just got reminded of Mink Deville's "Spanish Stroll" too.

Dr. Detroit said...

Life is short and it's filled with stuff, eh?