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Posted by: In: Other 31 Dec 2021 Comments: 0


450-The Strokes-Last Nite.

2001-Number 14 single.

Best Bit-At 1.58. As I have said many times before, and surely will again, nothing in Pop Music is totally original, but when you can cherry pick from the past and add your own new ideas, and come up with something so good, how can anyone complain.

The Strokes were formed in New York City, New York, United States, in 1998, and remain active at this present time. The three original members Julian Casablancas (singer/songwriter) Nick Valensi (guitar) and Fabrizio Moretti (drums) started playing together as teenagers while attending Dwight School in Manhattan. They were soon joined by Nikolai Fraiture (bass) who had been a childhood friend of Casablancas, and the quintet was completed in late 1998 when Casablancas invited Albert Hammond Jr. (guitar) (see also best songs 369 and 33) another old school acquaintance. The Strokes have released six studio Albums to date between 2001-2020, and a total of 17 singles. Their debut Album ‘Is This It’ which has sold in excess of two million copies worldwide has received several accolades including best Album of the decade by the British magazine the New Musical Express.

‘Last Nite’ was written by Julian Casablancas, and borrows heavily from the song ‘American Girl’ by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers from 1976. Casablancas when interviewed freely admitted to basing the songs opening guitar riff, and the songs overall structure on that track. On hearing Casablancas’ admission, Tom Petty (1950-2017) (see also best songs 769) said,’ That made me laugh out loud. I was like, OK good for you, it doesn’t bother me.’ In 2006 The Strokes were invited to be the opening act for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers on some that years tour dates.

‘Last Nite’ is a song about a romantic relationship that has broken down. The narrator thinks that he is entering in to a long term commitment, and decides that it is time to bail out. In no time at all he becomes confused not really knowing what he wants, he doesn’t want commitment, and he also might not want to leave his girl. He is also concerned about what she, and others may think of him.

‘Oh people, they don’t understand. No girlfriends, they don’t understand. In spaceships, they won’t understand, and me , I ain’t ever gonna understand.’

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1982-It was not released as a single ‘A’ side in the UK until 1990, when in remixed form it reached Number 14.

Best Bit-At 0.09. Alison Moyet isn’t famous for her joviality, but her laughter taken from this song, and sampled on the ‘Macarena,’ helped that track become the best selling song in the world in 1996.

Yazoo were formed in 1981 by Vince Clarke (keyboards) and Alison Moyet (vocals) after Clarke who had recently left Depeche Mode (see also best songs 968-261 and 134) responded to an advertisement Moyet had placed in the weekly UK music magazine ‘Melody Maker,’ looking for a new musical partner. Although Clarke (see also best songs 700) didn’t know Moyet personally he had seen her sing live on occasions. They remained active between 1981-1983, but did reform for live performances between 2008-2011. They took their name from the 1960’s specialist Blues record label ‘Yazoo Records,’ but following a lawsuit from that label they were forced to change their name to ‘Yaz’ in America. They released two studio Albums in their brief time together, and five singles, three of which reached the top three in the UK.

Alison Moyet was born Genevieve Alison-Jane Ballard on June 18th, 1961, in Billericay, Essex, England, prior to Yazoo she had been involved in a number of Punk Rock, and Blues bands in her local area. After the break up of Yazoo she embarked on a very successful solo career, and has to date released nine solo studio Albums between 1984-2017. She has also achieved nine UK top 40 solo hits, in 2021 she was appointed ‘Member of the Order of the British Empire’ (MBE) for her services to music.

‘Situation’ started out life as the ‘B’ side to Yazoo’s debut single ‘Only You,’ not being deemed good enough for an ‘A’ side, but after American music radio stations began playing it, it took off and received an official ‘A’ side release in the States. It was not issued as a stand alone single in the UK until several remixes were released in 1990, including the one I have chosen here, the ‘Deadline Mix’ by Francois Kevorkian. Kevorkian has remixed tracks for several of the worlds top artists, and in the late 1970’s, and early 1980’s was the ‘A&R’ man for the Dance label ‘Prelude Records’ working with artists such as Sharron Redd and D-Train.

‘Blue eyes dressed for every situation, moving through the doorway of a nation. Pick me up and shake the doubt, baby I can’t do without.’

Posted by: In: Other 29 Dec 2021 Comments: 0


452-Marianne Faithfull-As Tears Go By.

1964-Number 9 single.

Best Bit-At 0.16. This was the first classic song jointly written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Up until they wrote this song The Rolling Stones (see also best songs 933-662-160 and 77) were a band who mainly covered American Blues and R&B songs, but their manager Andrew Loog Oldham could see far more potential in the two young men.It is said that Oldham locked Jagger and Richards in a kitchen, telling them that they couldn’t come out, not even to go to the toilet until they had come up with what he called, ‘A song with brick walls all around it, high windows and no sex.’ On the completion of the composition Jagger and Richards thought it was a terrible song, Richards has said,’We came out and played it to Andrew and he said ‘It’s a hit.’ We actually sold this stuff, and it actually made money. Mick and I were thinking, this is money for old rope.’Initially Jagger and Richards thought the song did not fit in with the ‘Rock N’ Roll’ image that The Rolling Stones were attempting to portray, and therefore the song was offered to the then 17 year old Marianne Faithfull who was also under the management of Andrew Loog Oldham. The song became the breakthrough hit for Faithfull in 1964, with The Rolling Stones recording their own version in 1965 for their Album ‘December’s Children (And Everybody’s.’) The song was also released by the Stones in America where it reached Number 6 on Billboard, but in the UK it only appeared as the ‘B’ side of the 1966 single ’19th Nervous Breakdown.’

Marianne Evelyn Gabriel Faithfull was born on December 29th, 1946, in Hampstead, London, she is a singer, songwriter, and actress. She has released 22 studio Albums between 1965-2021, and 27 singles, of which five have reached the UK top 40, and four have charted on Billboard. Faithfull has been married three times, and was also involved in a romantic affair with Mick Jagger between 1966-1970. She has suffered from drug addiction during her adult life, which affected her voice after a severe case of laryngitis, permanently altering her singing leaving it raspy, and in a lower pitch, which some music critics have praised for sounding ‘whiskey soaked,’ and helping to capture the raw emotions expressed in her songs.

‘As Tears Go By’ was written by Mick Jagger who provided the lyrics, and Keith Richards who wrote the melody, Andrew Loog Oldham is also credited as a co-writer. When the the song was first written it was called ‘As Time Goes By,’ but as to avoid any confusion with the song from ‘Casablanca,’ (see also best songs 651) it was Oldham who suggested ‘As Tears Go By. Music critics have commended Jagger on his song lyrics saying that they are very worldly wise for a 21 year old to have written. The songs subject is one of regret with the narrator looking back on his life. He sees children playing, a thing he used to do, he knows that they have choices to make in front of them, but when he made his choices, he made the wrong ones.

‘It is the evening of the day, I sit and watch the children play. Smiling faces I can see, but not for me, I sit and watch as tears go by.’

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453-Limmie & Family Cooking-You Can Do Magic.

1973-Number 3 single.

Best Bit-At 2.12. Some kids collect toy cars, some collect Barbie Dolls, I collected every 7 inch single on the ‘AVCO’ record label….probably a bit sad.

Limmie Frank Snell, Jr. was born on October 4th, 1948, (although another source suggests it could have been 1945) in Dalton, Alabama, United States, he died from renal failure on May 27th, 1986.One of his earliest recordings was in 1965, using the name ‘Lemme B. Good’ he sang the original version of ‘Good Lovin,” when the song was later released by ‘The Young Rascals’ with slightly different lyrics it became a Billboard Number 1 single in 1966.

In the early 1970’s Snell joined forces with his two twin sisters Jimmie (1946-2016) and Martha to form Limmie & Family Cooking, and after releasing one unsuccessful single on Scepter Records, they signed with Avco Embassy Records, and achieved three UK top 40 hits between 1973-1974. Limmie & Family Cooking continued to tour in to the 1980’s, but in 1976 Snell also joined up with other musicians to form Limmie Funk, and then Limmie Funk Unlimited, these bands included Tony Mansfield who would later go on to form ‘New Musik,’ and also become a successful song writer (see also best songs 833.) Other artists to play along side Snell included Nick Straker (A Walk in the Park) and the brothers Paul and Robert Simon who became members of the bands Neo, Ultravox, and Magazine in the late 1970’s, and early 1980’s.

‘You Can Do Magic’ was written by Sandy Linzer, and co-produced by Linzer and Steve Metz, Linzer was also responsible for the Limmie & Family Cooking hit ‘Dreamboat (UK Number 31) in 1973. He is a prolific songwriter having co-written hits for The Four Seasons, and many others. He is also responsible for co-writing two UK Number 1 singles, ‘Working My Way Back To You,’ when recorded by The Detroit Spinners in 1979, and ‘Use It Up and Wear It Out,’ a chart topper for Odyssey in 1980.

‘You can do magic, you took the raindrops that filled my eyes and put them back up in the skies, and then made the grey skies turn blue.’

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454-Baauer-Harlem Shake.

2013-Number 3 single.

Best Bit-At 0.50. Having observed people dancing the actions to this song, I can vouch that after watching those who have 10 pints of lager inside them dance to the song also, there is absolutely no difference in performance.

Harry Bauer Rodrigues was born on April 30th, 1989, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, he is a music producer who specialises in Electronic Dance Music, Trap, Hip-Hop, and Grime. To date he has released two studio Albums in 2016, and 2020, and 26 singles, with this song being his only chart hit on either side of the Atlantic, he has also produced many remixes for other artists since 2012.

‘Harlem Shake’ started out as a free digital download from the ‘Mad Decent’ records imprint label ‘Jeffree’s when first issued in May 2012. Several months later the comedian George Miller who is better known by his stage name ‘Joji’ recorded a video of himself dancing to the song along with his friends, and posted it on ‘You Tube.’ The video became a sensation with many people posting their own outrageous dance routines, filmed in unusual settings, and often wearing comical attire.Video’s would normally last for around 30 seconds, and were watched by several thousands each day, eventually racking up millions of views. With all the publicity the song received, and the recently established new rules about adding a songs streaming history to it’s chart performance, it aided in propelling the track to Number 1 on Billboard for five weeks in 2013.

Baauer wanted the song to instantly grab the listeners attention so he added several strange sounds, including the noise of a growling lion. The song also has two notable samples, the line ‘Then do the Harlem Shake’ is taken from a 2001 Hip-Hop track called ‘Miller Time’ by the Rap group ‘Plastic Little,’ and a sample of a woman yelling ‘Con los terroristas’ is taken from an a cappella version of a 2010 remix of the track ‘Con Alegria’ by Gregor Salto, DJ Solo, and DJ Gregory.

The Harlem Shake dance has nothing to do with, but was probably inspired by a dance created in 1981 in Harlem by one of it’s residents called ‘Al B.’ The dance was initially called ‘The Albee’ and was associated with the predominately African-American neighbourhood of Harlem, in New York City. The dance consists of jerking your arms, and shoulders in time to the music, a good example of the dance can be seen in the 2001 video by ‘G Dep,’ for their song ‘Let’s Get It.’

‘Con Los terroristas.’

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455-Band Aid-Do They Know It’s Christmas?

1984-Number 1 single.

Best Bit-At 2.34. It seems petty to pick faults in such a good cause, but whose idea was it to get Bono to sing ‘Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.’

Bob Geldof (see also best songs 632) who was the lead singer of The Boomtown Rats was inspired to do something to raise money for the famine in Ethiopia after watching reports on the BBC news by the reporter Michael Buerk. He quickly got together with Midge Ure of the band Ultravox (see also best songs 543 and 532) and together they wrote this song, with Geldof providing the lyrics, and Ure providing the music.

In order to get the single rush released for the Christmas market, Geldof swiftly set about getting in touch with all the biggest British and Irish Pop stars of the day, according to Geldof, nearly all accepted, with only three, who Geldof refuses to name, saying no. Geldof also got the majority of the UK music magazines to donate free advertising space, the record label he was signed to, Phonogram released the single, and their parent company Polygram distributed it, without making any profit to themselves.

The majority of the song was recorded over a 24 hour period on Sunday November 25th, 1984, with all of the songs performers recording their parts. Geldof had signed an exclusive deal with the UK newspaper ‘The Daily Mirror’ to have access to the studio, and ensure that a promotional ‘team photo’ was taken. All the promotion paid off with advance orders for the song topping 250,000 in the first week.

The song was released on Monday December 3rd, 1984, and entered the UK chart at Number 1 the following week, it has since gone on to sell over 3,802,000 copies in the UK, and 2,500,000 in America,raising in excess of $14 million for famine relief in Africa. Bob Geldof is Irish so he can not be knighted, but he did receive a ‘KBE,’ which is the equivalent, and the reason he is affectionately known as ‘Sir Bob.’

‘It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid. At Christmas time we let in light and we banish shade.And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy, throw your arms around the world at Christmas time.’

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456-John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir-Happy Xmas (War Is Over.)

1972-Number 4 single. It has since charted on many other occasions at around Christmas, notably in 1980 when peaking at Number 2.

Best Bit-At 3.00. John Lennon once claimed that an inspiration for writing the song (presumably tongue in cheek) was that he was ‘Sick of White Christmas’ (see also best songs 457.)

John Lennon (see also best songs-solo 927-473-168 and 20, and with the Beatles 599-319-238-218-141-80-51-10 and 5) and Yoko Ono spent a lot of time working on promoting peace in the late 1960’s, and early 1970’s. In 1969 they paid for 12 black and white billboards to be erected in major cities around the world that said ‘War is over (if you want it’) Two years later the slogan became the basis for this song.

‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over’) was co-written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, although how much input was from Ono is in doubt as she was not there to participate in the early stages of the songs demo. The song is essentially a protest song against American involvement in the Vietnam War, and was a way of elaborating upon the themes of social unity, and a continuation of the earlier billboard campaigns.

Lennon brought in Phil Spector (1939-2021) (see also best songs 782-737 and 192) to produce, Spector had already worked with the Beatles, and with Lennon as a solo artist, and had previous experience with working on a Christmas record, having produced the 1963 classic Album ‘A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector.’ The children singing on the track were hired from the ‘Harlem Community Choir’ in New York, the 30 children were aged between four to 12 years old.The songs melody borrows from two sources, one is the traditional English ballad ‘Skewball,’ where the verses of the song are close in structure to the 1963 rendition by the Folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Lennon also instructed the guitarists to incorporate mandolin style riffs similar to the ones heard in ‘Try Some, Buy Some,’ a song Phil Spector had produced for his wife Ronnie Spector, and written by George Harrison.

At the very start of the song Lennon and Ono can be heard whispering a Christmas greeting, Ono says ‘Happy Christmas Kyoko,’ followed by Lennon ‘Happy Christmas Julian,’ these are the children from their previous marriages.

‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over’) was first released in America in 1971, but failed to reach the Billboard top 40, probably because it was released too close to Christmas and therefore was not picked up by the radio stations in time. In the UK there was a dispute between Lennon and the music publishers ‘Northern Songs,’ meaning that the song wasn’t released until November 1972.

‘A very merry Xmas and a happy New Year, let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.’

Posted by: In: Other 24 Dec 2021 Comments: 0


457-Bing Crosby with Ken Darby Singers and John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra-White Christmas.

1942-There was no UK chart until 1952, since then it’s highest chart peak was in 1977, when it reached Number 5.

Best Bit-At 2.37. Today my Christmas gift to you is ‘THE BEST SELLING SONG IN THE WORLD EVER.’

In the 1940’s there was no actual compiled listings for the best selling songs, so with sales of over 33 million in the modern era Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind,’ his tribute to Diana, Princess Of Wales is the official best seller. In 2007 in research done by ‘The Guinness World Records’ they concluded that ‘White Christmas’ had now sold in excess of 100 million copies, with at least 50 million of them sung by Bing Crosby.’White Christmas’ was one of 12 songs written by Irving Berlin for the 1942 musical film ‘Holiday Inn’ starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire (see also best songs 358.) Initially Crosby didn’t realise how iconic the song would become, casually telling Berlin,’I don’t think we have any problems with that one, Irving.’

Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin on May 11th, 1888 in Tolochin, Russian Empire, he died on September 1989 at the age of 101 from a heart attack, and natural causes. He was a Russian Jew who uprooted with his family in 1893 at the age of five to Ellis Island, New York City, United States. Berlin is perhaps the most celebrated songwriter of the 20th Century, having written around 2000 songs, four of which appear on this countdown (see also best songs 731-358 and 100.)

Bing Crosby (see also best songs 934) was born Harry Lillis Crosby Jr. on May 3rd, 1903 in Tacoma, Washington, United States, he died after playing a round of golf at the ‘La Moraleja Golf’ course on October 14th, 1977, at the age of 74, from a massive heart attack, which killed him instantly, his last words were ‘That was a great game of golf fellas. Let’s go have a Coca-Cola.’ Crosby acquired his lifelong nickname ‘Bing’ at an early age when a neighbour called Valentine Hobart named him ‘Bingo from Bingville’ after a comic feature in the local paper called ‘The Bingville Bugle’ which young Harry liked, over time Bingo was shortened to Bing. Over the course of his illustrious career Crosby recorded more than 1,600 songs, and appeared in over 70 feature films.Crosby was also one of the first artists to experiment with technically better microphones, enabling him to perform in a more intimate manner, this style of singing would become an inspiration to many more, who would become known as ‘Crooners.’

‘May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmas’ be white.’

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458-Pearl Jam-Alive.

1991-Number 16 single.

Best Bit-At 3.39. The lyrics are about a young man who finds out that the man he thought was his father, is actually his step father, and his real father is dead, and to top it all off his mother ‘comes on to him,’ and you thought you were having a bad day!

Pearl Jam were formed in Seattle. Washington, United States in 1990, with sales in excess of 85 million worldwide, they are one of the best selling acts of all time, releasing 11 studio Albums to date between 1991-2020. In America on Billboard five of their singles have reached the top 40, with ‘Last Kiss’ being the most successful when making Number 2 in 1999. In the UK 13 of their singles have reached the top 40, with the highest charting being the Number 10 song ‘Spin the Black Circle’ in 1994.

‘Alive’ was the first single released by Pearl Jam, and was taken from their debut Album ‘Ten’ from 1991, the Album is one of the best selling Rock Albums of all time with sales in excess of 14 million copies worldwide. The music to ‘Alive’ was one of three demos written by the bands guitarist Stone Gossard just prior to the bands formation, he circulated the tracks in the hope of finding a singer, and drummer to form a band, as his previous group ‘Mother Love Bone’ had disbanded due to the death of the lead singer Andrew Wood (1966-1990.) On hearing the tracks Eddie Vedder wrote his own lyrics, and vocals, and sent them to Gossard who was immediately impressed, and they teamed up with Mike McCready (lead guitar) Jeff Ament (bass) and Dave Krusen (drums) to form Pearl Jam.

The songs first verse is about Vedder’s real life experiences about finding out that he had not been told the truth about whom is real father was until it was too late to meet him, as his father was dead. The songs second verse is pure fantasy about the horror of incest, as the boy is molested by his mother. The other two demos which were sent to Vedder would become the songs ‘Once’ and ‘Footsteps,’ which continue the story. In ‘Once’ the boy goes mad and starts killing people, and in ‘Footsteps’ the boy is sentenced to death, and blames his mother, Vedder called these songs the ‘Momma-Son’ trilogy.The extended guitar solo played by Mike McCready at 3.39. is considered to be one of the best, being ranked Number 44 on ‘Guitar World’s’ list of the ‘100 Greatest Guitar Solos.’ My own personal opinion is that if it went on a couple of minutes longer it might get somewhere close to ‘Freebird,’ but only somewhere.(see also best songs 12.)

‘Son she said, have I got a little story for you.What you thought was your daddy, was nothin’ but a….’

Posted by: In: Other 22 Dec 2021 Comments: 0


459-Bee Gees-New York Mining Disaster 1941.

1967-Number 12 single.

Best Bit-At 0.23. A very clever piece of marketing had everyone thinking that this was the new single from the Beatles.

The Bee Gees (see also best songs 211 and 35) were formed in 1958 by the three brothers Barry, Robin (1949-2012) and Maurice Gibb, (1949-2003) Robin and Maurice were twins. Their father Hugh Gibb (1916-1992) was a drummer, and an early influence in nurturing the brothers interest in making music. The Gibb’s were born in Douglas, Isle of Man, but Hugh moved the family to Manchester, England in 1955 to pursue his music career. In 1958 the whole family including older sister Leslie, and infant brother Andy (1958-1988) emigrated to Queensland, Australia where the three brothers began their recording career.They released their first two studio Albums in 1965 and 1966, along with 12 singles in Australia, and New Zealand, but felt that in order to achieve international success they needed to come to England. Before departing from Australia Hugh Gibb sent demos to the Beatles manager Brian Epstein (1934-1967) who passed on the tapes to Robert Stigwood (1934-2016) who got them signed to a five year contract.

‘New York Mining Disaster 1941’ was taken from the Bee Gees third studio Album ‘Bee Gees’ 1st’ from 1967, and was co-written by Barry and Robin, it was the Bee Gees first single release since arriving in England, and their breakthrough international hit. All three of the brothers provided the vocals, and were joined on the track by Colin Peterson (drums) who was a member of the Bee Gees from 1967-1969, and Vince Melouney (lead guitar) who was also in the group for approximately the same time period.

The song is about a miner trapped beneath the surface who wants to contact his wife, there was no such exact event, and the lyrics are totally fictional.There was no mining disaster in New York in 1941, but there was one in McIntire, Pennsylvania, which killed six people.The song though is probably inspired by the Aberfan tragedy in South Wales, in 1966.

In what was a very clever piece of marketing, promos of the song were distributed to radio stations with a blank label, with the suggestion that it was an English group whose name began with the letter ‘B’,many DJ’s thought it was a new Beatles song, and played the track constantly.

The Bee Gees have admitted that the Beatles were a big influence on their early career.In turn this song was an influence on David Bowie’s 1969 song ‘Space Oddity,’ in style, arrangement and lyrics, as ‘Space Oddity’ is also about a trapped man who is soon to die.

‘I keep straining my ears to hear a sound, maybe someone is digging underground.’