1. Slade | Cum On Feel The Noize
There could be a whole slew of early seventies Glam records in this list. Sweet, T. Rex, Bowie, Mott The Hoople, Roxy Music, etc. The early seventies were a pretty miserable time for me. I hated School but one good thing was sneaking out to the local cafe to smoke, play pinball and put records on the jukebox. I remember the day this came out and we put the money in the machine to hear it. So raucous and wonderful. I think we put it on 10 times in a row till we had no more coins. The old boys with their tea didn't like it as much as us! I saw Slade later supporting The Jam and Generation X. Those two were brave to go up against Slade who ripped the place up making anyone on later look and sound tame. And, if you can carry off looking like Dave Hill, you can't be all bad.
2. Ramones | Poison Heart
There could also be 13 Ramones tracks on this list. I'll never forget seeing them for the first time in Croydon with Talking Heads supporting. They hit the stage like a rocket and didn't let up with brilliant, perfectly formed, melodic, 100mph Pop songs. And they went on to make great album after great album. It was a mixed blessing touring with them though. I was so proud to sing Baby I Love You on stage and, along with Casino Steel, be one of only two people not called Ramone to play live with Ramones. But they say you shouldn't meet your heroes and they were a case in point. A deeply damaged and unhappy bunch. Marky sneaking into our dressing room for a beer out of the gaze of bully Johnny; Joey, one of our greatest supporters but battling with every syndrome going to get through the day, and Dee Dee, a pent up bundle of Unhappiness. And this song personifies that unhappiness. Given to the rest of the band in acknowledgement of bailing him out of jail as he descended towards his demise, it's a beautiful, desperate song by a man sick of Life. Who said Pop songs can't have depth?
3. The Boys | Jimmy Brown
Well, I'm not in The Boys anymore, so this is not a blatant piece of self promotion! The Boys were a huge part of my life from when I was 17 till the back end of 2011, when I left at the end of a Japanese tour. I love the records, especially the early ones, and the great shows we played. I'm proud to have been a significant part of a world class and world renowned band and to have helped create that legacy. I was the youngest and, at the beginning, most inexperienced member. Cas, Matt and John are/were extremely talented and taught me everything I know about Songwriting and harmonies. And who could have better teachers to learn from? I often think the measure of how great we were is seen in the songs we threw away and here's a classic example. It's a brilliant song, played brilliantly and with truly superb backing vocals from Cas. For most bands it would have been track 1. The Boys recorded it and then discarded it as not good enough.
4. The Beach Boys | God Only Knows
If you've heard my records, Little Big Head and the new Difficult Second Album, you'll know I'm a bit of a nut for backing vocals. The Beach Boys are the best backing vocal band of all time. Even The Beatles, no slouches in that area, were inspired by them. Brian Wilson also came up with revolutionary arrangements which still influence producers today. Here, you get all of that, together with a killer, heart achingly beautiful song which also managed to be controversial at the time by having the shocking word God in it! Stunning.
5. John Lennon | Isolation
Is there an album more raw and honest than the first Lennon solo album? His voice has always been great, but I love his piano playing as well.
6. Heartbreakers | Born To Lose
I've put this in as a representative of any number of great bands and songs from '77. It could have been a track from The Buzzcocks, The Clash, The Undertones, The Rezillos, Damned... The list is long. Like Ramones, the first time I saw Hearbreakers knocked me out. Great songs and who ever moved better with a guitar than Johhny Thunders? Walter Lure was also no slouch in the posing department and Jerry Nolan was the best show off drummer anyone will ever see. He had his cymbals way up so his arms were always extended high in the air. We stole that and the next day Jack Black was ordered to jack his cymbals up and start flailing his arms between drum beats. He mastered it brilliantly I've got to say. But unlike Ramones, they never kicked on. The set never developed, no new songs came along and the live set didn't translate onto record. What is it Johnny Thunders always did to get that muddy sound on record? Too much junky business I guess, but this track is still a great reminder of a great band who burnt brightly for a moment and then burnt out.
7. Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers | Into The Great Wide Open
There was a great documentary on last year about Tom Petty. It went on for hours and justifiably so because he's had such a long career and made so many great records. It takes a certain amount of luck to have a hit. It takes an enormous amount of talent to be successful over an extended period of time. This is a great record to represent his catalogue. Produced superbly by Jeff Lynne, great guitars, beautiful chorus and clever lyrics.
8. Foo Fighters | Walk
And another guitar band who have made great records over a long period are Foo Fighters. This song from their last album is as good as anything they have done.
9. Goldfrapp | Happiness
I thought I'd be honest and have a look on my iTunes to see what track I've played more than any other. I'm stunned to find it's this one. I shouldn't be though as it's a great song, The Beach Boys gone Electro. Great backing vocals. I wish I'd written it.
10. Dire Straits | Sultans Of Swing
I don't really like Dire Straits. But sometimes a piece of Music becomes so intertwined with a Time and Place that it transports you back to when you heard it. I was born and brought up 40 miles from France, but, like most people in East Kent, I wouldn't have dreamt of going there. Why on Earth would you do that? The food was funny and it was bad enough that the frogs would pile over on the ferries in the summer, clogging up Canterbury High Street, barging everyone out of the way with their Gallic elbows and shoplifting everything in sight. Or so the local, internationally enlightened folklore would have it. So I was 17 before I first went abroad for the first time, for a week's residency The Boys had at the Gibus club in Paris. And I was almost 20 before I went on my first foreign holiday, for a week with my then girlfriend, now wife, to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. And what an eye opener! Before then holidays were times spent looking from a caravan with my brothers at the Cornish drizzle, or giving up in the Lake District to come home early as the wind and rain threatened to wash our tent away. But what was this now? Sunshine! And strawberries! In February! And the funny food wasn't funny! It was delicious! Las Palmas tended to cloud over so every day we took the bus to the appropriately named Playa Del Ingles where we grilled ourselves, ate grilled food, drank San Miguels and headed back on the bus at the end of the day. Every evening as the bus rounded a hill to come back into Las Palmas the bus driver's radio seemed to play Sultans Of Swing. And so a song by a group I don't really like, lead by a grumpy multi millionaire who wouldn't lend me a fiver when we were both recording in Roundhouse studios, is capable of inducing a trance like Happiness every time I hear it.