Sunday, 10 February 2008

Pop! What is it Good For (Slight Return)

In a previous post I referred to Paul Morley’s 6 Milestone Singles as revealed during his TV programme, ‘Pop. What is it Good For?’ Well, as promised here are mine.

For those who are new to this concept, these are 6 singles that have specific memories for me as turning points in my own musical journey, rather than just a list of my favourite singles that would probably be a little different albeit with some overlap. So, no ‘Strawberry Fields’ or ‘God Only Knows’ which would appear in my best ever list but in this context have no ‘Milestone’ significance.

So, without further ado, here they are:

‘She Loves You’ – The Beatles
For anyone of my age, it is likely that they will have been influenced by the moptops. This single burst into my life in 1963 and set in motion a lifelong passion almost by force. Even listening to it today after 45 years, when I’m a bit bored by it, it still has a real energy that just bursts out of the speakers at you. Genuinely life changing.

‘Back Street Luv’ – Curved Air
The single that opened up the door to albums irrevocably. After this, the pick ‘n’ mix of the singles chart was no longer enough and the purchase of far too many earnest progrock albums ensued.

‘Your Generation’ – Generation X
Billy Idol and cohorts arrived in the nick of time to blow away the cobwebs from the complacent 1970s corporate rock and suddenly, punk was the lifeline that got my musical interest back on track. I even started buying singles again. The likes of The Stranglers, Adverts, Sex Pistols and many of the punk associates like Siouxsie and XTC followed in a great rush of loud, invigorating, life affirming noise.

‘Scar’- Lush
A 6 track EP (on new-fangled CD) that took my breath away with its harmonic complexity, aural architecture and jagged rhythms. It introduced me to the world of Shoegazeing and to Lush in particular and I was hooked. They are still my favourite band ever despite their lack of success and just about everybody else’s derision.

‘Shine On’ – The House of Love
About as near to a perfect single as I’ve ever heard and it was created in the 1990s, long after the birth of popular music. Everything works, from its hushed verse to its sing-a-long chorus, heady harmonised middle section complete with gut-wrenching key change, beautiful evocative lyric and rampant guitar lines. There are not many songs that have everything. This one does and it helped to demonstrate that perfect pop is not just the preserve of the 1960s as many would have you believe.

‘Patience’ – Take That
A bit of surprise this one, but it has reminded me of the greatest lesson you can learn about pop music - that it can still surprise you, even 50 years on if you keep an open mind (and ears). This is a wonderfully constructed song that gladdens the heart. The fact that it is Take That is absolutely superfluous – never discount anybody in this game or you miss out.

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