Thursday, September 02, 2021

The 143 greatest songs, one per artist, a partial and personal list

What is it with blokes and lists, eh? A few years ago I hit on the crazy idea of putting together a list of my top 100 songs, with the rule that you can only have one per artist, the 2017 version is here, and the first attempt in 2011 is here

Spotify has given us the means to create and curate lists to our heart's content. On my Spotify, which I now spend an enormous amount of time on, there are lists galore. You can link to those here, and I'm leaving everything open for people to copy and share. But not collaborate, I can't let go. You'll also find every episode playlist for our Music Therapy radio show on Tameside Radio, if you ever wanted to get easy access to the songs. They're not always the right versions though, especially as I have a proper DJ as a partner on this project, who has a superpower for finding rare grooves and hidden gems. 

The 100 seemed inadequate. Especially as I discovered I can't count and that there were 112 songs on the 2017 version.

As if by magic, I stumbled upon the 143, a music blog curated by Andrew Collins, the former editor of Q and a prolific writer. He's utilised the same formula where you can pick just one song per artist. He started at 50, but it was a definitive, heroic, primal list of songs that were massively important to him. He kept going and stuck at 143. Where Andrew absolutely excels is the commentary around each song. That's a really impressive project and as you'd expect from a music writer of his calibre, it's a work of real quality that I don't think I could match.

And just to be absolutely clear, again. These are memories, some are deeply personal, some are dedicated to lost friends, to broken hearts and to better times ahead, but all are in some way connected to the sheer raw power of music. Maybe I will, but this is enough for now.

All of my Heart, ABC

We Could Send Letters, Aztec Camera

A Day in the Life, The Beatles

One Last Love Song, The Beautiful South

E=MC2, Big Audio Dynamite

Let Em in, Billy Paul

The Day Before You Came, Blancmange

Union City Blue, Blondie

There's a Reason Why, Blossoms

Tinseltown In The Rain, The Blue Nile

Subterranean Homesick Blue, Bob Dylan

Could you be loved, Bob Marley and the Wailers

Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen

Nobody Does It Better, Carly Simon

Father and Son, Cat Stevens

Ain't Nobody, Chaka Khan

The British Way of Life, The Chords

Under the Milky Way Tonight, The Church

Straight to Hell, The Clash

Let's Go Out Tonight, Craig Armstrong

Bloody Revolutions, Crass

Weather With You, Crowded House

Boys Don't Cry, The Cure

Instant Crush, Daft Punk

Life On Mars, David Bowie

Dignity, Deacon Blue

California Über Alles, Dead Kennedys

Enjoy the Silence, Depeche Mode

There, There My Dear, Dexy's Midnight Runners

Romeo and Juliet, Dire Straits

I Touch Myself, Divinyls

Jolene, Dolly Parton

MacArthur Park, Donna Summer

Ordinary World, Duran Duran

You Don't Have to Say You Me, Dusty Springfield

The Killing Moon, Echo and the Bunnymen

One Day Like This, Elbow

Getting Away With It, Electronic

Stan (Featuring Dido), Eminem with Dido

Paid in Full, Eric B. and Rakim

Missing, Everything But the Girl

Lost in Music, The Fall

Love See No Colour, The Farm

Do You Realize?? The Flaming Lips

Weekender, Flowered Up

Welcome to the Pleasuredome, Frankie Goes to Hollywood

My Sweet Lord, George Harrison

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Gil Scott-Heron

La vie en Rose, Grace Jones

The Message, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Gil Scott-Heron

Your Evening of Swing (has been Cancelled), Half Man Half Biscuit

Wrote for Luck, Happy Mondays

Zeus and Apollo, Hatchback

Silver Machine, Hawkwind

Temptation, Heaven 17

Beautiful Girl, INXS

Love Train, Holly Johnson

Open Your Heart, Human League

Visions of You, Jah Wobble

When You're Young, The Jam

Tomorrow, James

Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley

Annie's Song, John Denver

Ring Of Fire, Johnny Cash

Atmosphere, Joy Division

Cloudbursting, Kate Bush

The Gambler, Kenny Rogers

Sunny Afternoon, The Kinks

Aria [with Michael Gambon - Layer Cake speech] Lisa Gerrard

All Woman, Lisa Stansfield

Rattlesnakes, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions

Wasting My Young Years, London Grammar

Idiot Child, Madness

Madam Butterfly, Malcolm McLaren

Working Class Hero, Marianne Faithfull

Motorcycle Emptiness, Manic Street Preachers

Teardrop, Massive Attack

What's Going On, Marvin Gaye

Fade into You, Mazzy Star

Anchorage, Michelle Shocked

Irish Blood, English Heart, Morrissey

Express Yourself, N.W.A.

True Faith, New Order

New Dawn Fades, Moby

Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon, Neil Diamond

Time Of No Reply, Nick Drake

Into My Arms, Nick Cave

Don't Speak, No Doubt

All Around the World, Oasis

If You Leave, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Because the Night, Patti Smith

No Tears to Cry, Paul Weller

Being Boring, Pet Shop Boys

Reachin, Phase II

Cruel, Prefab Sprout

Purple Rain, Prince and the Revolution

Pretty In Pink, The Psychedelic Furs

Common People, Pulp

Losing My Religion, R.E.M.

Fake Plastic Trees, Radiohead

Open up Your Arms, Ren Harvieu

Run for You, Richard Hawley

Orange, Richard Lumsden

Please Read The Letter, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

Gimme Shelter, Rolling Stones

More Than This, Roxy Music

The Greatest Love of All, Kevin Rowland

In Dreams, Roy Orbison

The Spirit Of Radio, Rush

Over the Border, Saint Etienne

The Word Girl, Scritti Politti

The Great Rock n Roll Swindle, Sex Pistols

We are Family, Sister Sledge

Run, Baby, Run, Sheryl Crow

Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinéad O'Connor

Itchycoo Park, The Small Faces

How Soon Is Now, The Smiths

Say Hello Wave Goodbye, Soft Cell

I Got You Babe, Sonny and Cher

Ghost Town, The Specials

Black Coffee in Bed, Squeeze

Suspect Device, Stiff Little Fingers

I Am The Resurrection, The Stone Roses

No More Heroes, The Stranglers

Ever Changing Moods, Style Council

Good Day to Die, Sunhouse

Give A Little Bit, Supertramp

It's My Life, Talk Talk

Let it Happen, Tame Impala

Reward, The Teardrop Explodes

Heartland, The The

Song to the Siren, This Mortal Coil

Up Against the Wall, Tom Robinson Band

Funky Cold Medina, Tone Loc

Wide Open Road, The Triffids

Red Hill Mining Town, U2

Lucky Man, Verve

Story of the Blues, Wah

And A Bang On The Ear, The Waterboys

Teardrops, Womack and Womack

Baba O'Riley, The Who

Seven Seconds, Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry

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