Tuesday, June 24, 2003

oh, Brittania: a personal history of British rock, v.3
1. Wings, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish.” Banned by the BBC, yet still a big hit in ’73. Musically, not one of Macca’s best singles, but lyrically, stellar. It impresses me that he was willing to put himself out there in such a manner – especially since Paul’s not exactly known as the political Beatle. The sad thing is that 30 years on, it’s still relevant.
2. T.Rex, “Jeepster.” Simpler and more incendiary than a “Ballroom Blitz,” proof that Marc Bolan could say it with restraint just as well as he could with bombast.
3. Sex Pistols, “Anarchy in the UK.” Get pissed. Destroy!
4. Buzzcocks, “What Do I Get.” The gorgeous sound of garage punk bands the world over, complete with jump-up drumming. The difference is that the ‘cocks had superlative songwriting backing them up.
5. Elvis Costello, “Radio Radio (live on Saturday Night Live).” After being told he couldn’t play it, he went ahead and did it anyway. That’s punk.
6. Boomtown Rats, “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Bob Geldof wasn’t always a self-righteous prick, you know.
7. Adam and the Ants, “Stand and Deliver.” For about two years, Britain was in the grip of Antmania, and rightfully so – Adam and his boys improbably married punkish attitude with fashion, glam with perfect pop-rock, and did it with such style that it could only be called Antmusic. There’d been nothing like it prior. There still hasn’t.
8. Echo and the Bunnymen, “The Killing Moon.” One of the ‘80s’ finest independent bands on possibly their finest single, pointing out new possibilities and new ways of doing things – and featuring the stunningly gorgeous tones of lead singer Ian MacCulloch.
9. The Style Council, “Shout to the Top!” Jazzy, Parisian-influenced pop seemed to be a better-fitting suit for Paul Weller than his previous agit-pop incarnation, and lent his bitter lyrics a better twist (with lots of lemon).
10. New Order, “The Perfect Kiss.” The perfect band? Perhaps not, but damned near close, using technology to their best advantage, along with Peter Hook’s amazing basswork and Bernard Sumner’s little-boy-lost vocal stylings. And their lyrics, their lyrics! One of the most important bands ever, no doubt.
11. The Housemartins, “The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death.” They featured the future leader of the Beautiful South and the future Fatboy Slim. They wrote some of the most arch pop songs to ever grace the UK charts. They could hardly miss. They didn’t.
12. Prefab Sprout, “The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll.” Paddy McAloon is the second-greatest UK songwriter of the ‘80s, period (the first is, of course, Morrissey), capable of writing bossa novas as easily as straightforward rock’n’roll. If you’re unsure, listen to this and report back. If you’re still unsure, grab their genius The Collection. If you’re still unsure after that, leave this house.
13. Ride, “Vapour Trail.” Walls of droning, vibrating guitars into a cavernous void. Only better.
14. Curve, “Faît Accompli.” Crashing, falling, synthetic tremors, the storm before the calm, topped by the fiercely ethereal vox of Toni Halliday, like Liz Fraser with steroid injections.
15. Morrissey, “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get.” My ’93-’94 mantra, nearly. Moz and self-esteem issues: who knew?
16. Blur, “Song 2.” Wherein the Britpop Princes attempt to get in tune with their flannel-wearing side, and almost come off convincingly. But do succeed in rocking out.
17. Manic Street Preachers, “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next.” Only Wales’ finest trio could pull off a #1 single about the Spanish Civil War with this much aplomb.
18. Placebo, “Every You Every Me.” If Brett Anderson is Bowie – which he isn’t – Brian Molko is Bolan-cum-Ferry, only much, much sexier.
19. Primal Scream, “Bomb the Pentagon (live).” …and then there are the misguided moves by the great bands.

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