Category Archives: Top 10

Top 10: Post-punk albums

As punk rock became more and more commercial and a parody of itself, its followers became more and more disenfranchised. Post-punk took the best of its predecessor – the harshness and the politics – and added more.

10. The Sound – Jeopardy

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As atmospheric as Joy Division but slightly more upbeat, Jeopardy is amongst London’s best contributions to the post-punk scene. An excellent debut album that’s as angular as it is soulful.

9. The Chameleons –  John Peel Sessions

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These Peel sessions capture the rawest points of this much forgotten about Manchester band; the opening thirty seconds of Perfumed Garden couldn’t be any more driving, not to mention the entirety of Looking Inwardly. Once an underground gem, always an underground gem.

8. Josef K – The Only Fun In Town

The Only Fun in Town

Maybe the best thing to come from Edinburgh and the Scottish post-punk scene, Josef K released their debut album (and their only studio album) in 1981. Fast-paced angular guitar work and an incredible rhythmic awareness gained them an immediate cult following, with bands such as Interpol and Franz Ferdinand declaring themselves fans. As you might expect with anything punk-related they broke up shortly after the release of their debut album, but proved influential for the many bands that followed.

7. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

Unknown Pleasures

What is hailed as the holy grail of post-punk might as well have been recorded in a storage container with Peter Hook’s crude baselines, Bernard Sumner’s piercing guitar and most famously Ian Curtis’ haunting vocals all creating what would be the antithesis of Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound. Needless to say, it only went on to be one of two precocious albums they would ever release.

6. Wire – Chairs Missing

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Punk was far from dead before Wire had taken the genre and run with it on Chairs Missing. Borrowing synthesisers from Kraftwerk and Brian Eno (not literally), Wire proved that they could go well beyond their already established art-punk roots. ‘Outdoor Miner’ has been a staple for indie rock ever since – Luna have covered it, and it serves the inspiration for the name of Mac DeMarco’s first band, Outdoor Miners (very different), not to mention the fact that the menace of ‘I Am The Fly’ left a lasting impression on Blur’s musical output for years to come.

5. Echo & The Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here

Heaven Up Here (25th Anniversary Expanded Edition 2003 Remaster)

When psychedelia met post-punk, Heaven Up Here was born. Atmospheric drums and guitars paired with Ian McCulloch’s Jim Morrison-twisted vocals keep you on the edge of your seat for superb eleven tracks. The Killers wouldn’t quite have the same sound if it weren’t for ‘It Was A Pleasure’.

4. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand

Setting out with the simple and admirable aim to ‘make records that girls can dance to’ seemed to get the Glasgow Art School quartet far in 2004. Fans of Roxy Music, Pulp, and anything Scottish, Franz Ferdinand used their songwriting abilities to write eleven jerky, self-aware, and sometimes absurd dance-floor fillers. Alex Kapranos is the only man since Morrissey to pull off that homoerotic swagger and get away with it.

3. Gang Of Four – Entertainment!

Entertainment!

The album that ‘rhythm guitar’ actually meant something more than being credited for strumming while singing on the liner notes of an album. Described as ‘white boy funk’, Andy Gill proved you could have a guitar solo without having a guitar solo. Upbeat, invigorating, and lyrically explosive, Entertainment! went on to influence far more even outside their genre, Gorillaz and LCD Soundsystem to name a few.

2. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights

Turn On The Bright Lights

In 2002, in the aftermath of 9/11, four smartly dressed New Yorkers released the defining album of post-punk revival of the 2000s. Dynamic, octave-jumping basslines, commanding drums (Sam Fogarino is the reason for the saying ‘doesn’t miss a beat’) , sinewy guitars, and Paul Banks’ sober baritone are all part of the many intricacies that make up a theatrical level performance. Although often skipped over for the 2001 album-of-the-year Is This It?, Turn On The Bright Lights made for the perfect ode to an early 2000s New York.

1. Television – Marquee Moon

Marquee Moon

They might’ve released it in 1977, but it would be the precursor to anything post-punk (and still is). Television were amongst the best bands to emerge from the New York punk scene of the late 70s thanks to their meticulous and rewardingly complex tunes. The synchronicity of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd’s guitars created an incredible ‘network of lightning’, to quote Patti Smith. Every moment is raw and incredible in its beauty, the title track being maybe the best song to pass the 10 minute point.

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Top 10: Follow-up albums

As they say, you don’t know until you try it (again). The first album sets the precedent, and the second album decides whether or not to break it, and on this list, whether they got it right or not at first, they sure did the second time round.

10. Big Star – Radio City

Radio City

In a lot of ways, Radio City is the less prophetic The Velvet Underground & Nico – never fully realised because of its lack of commercial success, despite being massively influential. Stepping away from the mellowness on the preceding #1 Record, Alex Chilton went on nurturing Big Star’s love for both The Beatles and The Byrds, alongside their own soulful Memphis roots – simultaneously evolving the genre of power pop.

9. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II

Led Zeppelin II

Released the same year as Led Zeppelin I – and just when you thought they couldn’t get any heavier – Led Zeppelin upped the ante with their second album. Opening with the steam-train chugging of ‘Whole Lotta Love’, moving onward to the fearless riff of ‘Heartbreaker’, and concluding on the blues-heavy ‘Bring It On Home’, although this album might have come out in 1969, it is fundamentally responsible for the sound of rock in the Seventies.

8. The Smiths – Meat Is Murder

Meat Is Murder

If you missed Morrissey’s trenchancy and shrewdness from The Smiths’ debut, you don’t have to look far to find it this time. Naturally, Meat Is Murder bears an anti-institutional message (“belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools”), but The Smiths’ usual lyrical content is upheld with epigrammatic descriptions of fairground activity in ‘Rusholme Ruffians’ and the disillusionment of a materialist world in ‘Nowhere Fast’. Although The Smiths might have gotten a bit more serious, the beat goes on.

7. The Zombies – Odessey And Oracle

Odessey & Oracle

A quintessential spoonful of psychedelia, Odessey And Oracle paints a nostalgic and seasonal picture with its pleasant illustrations of English summers in ‘Beechwood Park’, all the while maintaining a cryptic undertone with songs like ‘Time Of The Season’. Both Colin Blunstone’s delicate vocals and Rod Argent’s opulent keyboard solos make this album one of the emblematic milestones of the British Invasion.

6. Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model

This Year's Model

Elvis Costello’s first album with The Attractions, and his most loaded. Costello really cranks it up a gear, and the effect is so galvanising it makes his debut seem lethargic. The time for lamenting is over; no more ‘Alison’. Every word on This Year’s Model drips with disdain, spilling over ornate keyboard lines that are so clear-cut they could well be from the Classical period – move over Beethoven. All the same, Costello remains as witty and wry as ever.

5. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory

The Low End Theory

The Low End Theory comes from a similar leaf on the same branch of hip-hop as De La Soul and Eric B. & Rakim; one that didn’t let the rising commercial success of hip-hop influence their artistry. Instead, the focal point of this album is the beautiful simplicity that can be found in each track: the stripped back setup of drums, bass and vocals. However, the underlying charm here is in Q-Tip’s colloquial, near-conversational delivery, flowing perfectly with the chilled out jazz samples.

4. Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

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Why would anyone bother with a concept album written about Anne Frank? Get real. Well, maybe it’s not the point that Jeff Magnum doesn’t sing all that melodically, and maybe all the lyrical bombast isn’t trying to achieve anything. The magic can instead be found in the way that the lyrics are poetically unspooled, and how something can sound beautiful despite the grinding accordion involved. Such an album is only meant to be understood and interpreted on an individual level; the point being that it’s its own weird and wonderful self. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea makes one hell of a statement, whatever that statement is.

3. Radiohead – The Bends

The Bends

After the release of The Bends, anyone who said they knew Radiohead only for ‘Creep’ was dismissed as a fake fan. The first of many musical turning points for Radiohead, The Bends was the initial step towards their ever-increasing (and now signature) digital approach to rock, while staying loyal to their previous grungy sound; neurotic guitars rule tracks such as ‘My Iron Lung’, and Thom Yorke’s floaty vocals define ‘Fake Plastic Trees’. All in all, Radiohead’s sophomore album proceeded to dominate rock for the remainder of the Nineties.

2. Carole King – Tapestry

Tapestry

The Beatles might have been the first to truly break the singer/songwriter barrier, but Carole King was the first to stand tall by herself. Following her divorce with Gerry Goffin, King reimagined some of her own previously penned songs written for Aretha Franklin and The Shirelles, moulding them to her own woman-and-her-piano aesthetic, and gave them a sentiment that made them that bit more sincere and personal. A commercial breakthrough at the time, King undoubtedly gave the most in terms of female songwriting to the Seventies.

 

1. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver

Sound Of Silver

Reflective, adult, and Pink Floyd-referencing, Sound Of Silver is the cool middle-aged dad we all wanted (and some had). In the album, electro-punk wizard James Murphy has managed the impossible, and made every song sound like it’s been plucked straight from a ‘best of’ by various other bands. The standout tracks – in an album of standout tracks – are ‘North American Scum’, a glorious, stereotype questioning mess, and the more melancholic ‘All My Friends’, an elegy about wasting time doing the wrong things in life and regretting it. As for the remaining songs, to not detail them would deny them any attention and do them a disservice; this album is all substance and no filler.

Joey Zero

Top 10: Debut Albums

Entering the scene with a solid debut album is important in the music industry – it sets the precedent for an artist’s career along with being the first, and in some cases, the most significant steps they take. These albums have been selected for their decision to break away from the norm, as well as their contributions to their respective genre.

10. The Clash – The Clash

The Clash

An unlikely combination of frantic guitars and laid-back reggae beats come together in this shockwave of an album. Despite its very much contemporary topics, ranging from race (‘White Riot’) to the music industry itself (‘Garageland’ and ‘Remote Control’), even now, The Clash still howls with anger.

9. Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True

My Aim Is True

Too self-aware for punk, but too acerbic for new wave; Elvis Costello created his own idiosyncratic and oxymoronic image – an impossibly trendy nerd – as well as emerging as one of the best songwriters and lyricists. His efforts peak with ‘Alison’, a sharply-penned lament about watching something beautiful die.

8. The Strokes – Is This It?

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While Radiohead, Beck and others were shifting over to the more electronic side of things, these New York rockers didn’t dare ditch their guitars. Instead they embraced the grittiness and gave modern rock skinny jeans and a different, much cooler name. The Strokes managed to revamp New York punk with Julian Casablancas’ descriptions of young urban life – regret in ‘Someday’ and all out apologies in ‘Hard To Explain’.

7. Patti Smith – Horses

Horses

The godmother of punk rock in all her glory: Horses is the definitive statement that rock poetry wasn’t dead. Opening boldly with ‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine’, it becomes immediate that this is one of many more unforgettable lines to come.

6. De La Soul – 3 Feet High And Rising

3 Feet High And Rising

De La Soul arrived at the forefront of the jazz-rap revolution, and rightly so. Who cares if they lack the pure aggression or confrontational lyrics of Public Enemy? Rap may have taken a few steps back from that, but they were the first truly reflective and meticulous ones. You’ll be singing along with ‘The Magic Number’ not because of its authority-defying nature, but its playful and easygoing attitude.

5. Arcade Fire – Funeral

Funeral

Macabre, morbid, and melancholy are the three M’s that sum up this unbelievably original debut. Tales of familial and neighbourhood disputes, ebbing love, and death are illustrated beautifully, with the help of near symphonic orchestration. Yet all the while, Arcade Fire have their roots set in some unprecedented kind of theatrical punk/dance hybrid that any sane person wouldn’t have touched – and it all works faultlessly.

4. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground & Nico is the alternative rock album before alternative rock. Every element within this album clashes – John Cale’s minimalistic approach to production, Nico’s harsh, cold vocals, and Lou Reed’s nonchalantly told stories of drug addiction and male prostitution – yet overall, there is no dissonance. Although not fully realised at the time, this album has made much of what we now know rock music to be today.

3. The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols

Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols

‘A cheap holiday in other people’s misery’ sings Johnny Rotten shamelessly, simultaneously deeming everything that came before it irrelevant in doing so. It might have been the only studio album to be completed by The Sex Pistols, but that doesn’t undermine the terrifying effect it had – the hateful remains of Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols can be heard everywhere.

2. The Ramones – Ramones

Ramones

Fuelled by feelings of alienation and teenage angst, this album delineates perfectly what punk rock is and should be. Johnny Ramone’s exhilarating power chords and refusal to do solos stripped rock back to the bone: bleating vocals, raucous guitar, and drums with a simple bass line to follow it. Practically all the songs are less than two and a half minutes long, which makes this album the quintessential testimony to punk rock’s short but action-packed lifespan.

1. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced

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Jimi Hendrix extended the vocabulary of the electric guitar so much, it might as well have been another language altogether. His flash-of-lightning instrumentalism, married to the otherworldly rhythm section (Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums), birthed the beautiful psychedelic child that was Are You Experienced. Throughout the album, one simple fact begins to dawn: guitar feedback will never sound as melodic ever again.

Joey Zero

Top 10: Girl group songs

It’s not an overstatement to say that the dawn of girl groups in the early Sixties saw some of the best songwriting work, whilst managing to consistently rival The Beatles in popularity. No other music act has married the genres of doo-wop and pop so impeccably, with incredible support coming from the likes of Carole King and other such talents. Still today, these songs remain as anthemic as they were then.

10. The Crystals – Then He Kissed Me

This is the Crystals’ most famous song, and for a good reason. ‘Then He Kissed Me’ tells the familiar tale of a kiss progressing to love – The Beach Boys could hardly resist covering it.

9.  The Crystals – He’s a Rebel

Originally written for The Shirelles, and accredited to The Crystals, this song was in fact sung by The Blossoms (The Crystals weren’t in town at the time of recording). Unlike other Phil Spector productions, his signature ‘Wall of Sound’ gets its backbone from the piano and bold percussion.

8. The Supremes – Baby Love

Insanely catchy, and, as expected, a chart-topper in both the United States as well as the United Kingdom simultaneously. Diana Ross’ elongated oohs stretch all over the standard Motown guitar and drums, and generate one of the most irresistible charms.

7. The Shangri-las – Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand)

The moping of a sixteen year old couldn’t be more sincere; the reminiscing of sentimental strolls to a basic doo-wop chord sequence illustrate the melodramatic scene perfectly.

6. The Marvelettes – Please, Mr. Postman

The first Motown song to reach No.1, and one that would go on to be popularised by many (most famously The Carpenters). ‘Please, Mr. Postman’ was the hit single that undoubtedly laid the foundations for the future of Motown, and set the bar high for other songwriting teams.

5. The Ronettes – The Best Part Of Breakin’ Up

Just when the girl group sensation seemed to be losing ground to the British Invasion, The Ronettes maintained that this year (1964) would be their biggest with ‘The Best Part Of Breakin’ Up’. Phil Spector saw this as his greatest achievement, and tried to model all his future compositions on it.

4. The Shirelles – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

This song is noted for being the first No. 1 in the United States by an all-girl group, and it symbolises Goffin and King at their finest. At first, the song was deemed too country until a string arrangement was added, which ended up being exactly what the tune needed.

3. Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – Dancing In The Street

The most modest invitation to dance, and nothing more or less – it earned itself a brief reference from The Stones in ‘Street Fighting Man’. Marvin Gaye even managed to work his way onto the song in more than one way; as well as co-writing it he also tries his hand on the drums.

2. The Shangri-las – Leader Of The Pack

In a lot of ways, this song has singlehandedly fashioned its own genre – unlike other girl group songs of heartbreak and/or romantic longing, the story of a forbidden love for a rogue character spawned the theme of teenage tragedy.

1. The Ronettes – Be My Baby

The quintessential girl group song, and the ultimate embodiment of Phil Spector’s production. A full orchestra was used to create the monumental sound on the record, and in certain cases is argued to be the most innovative production of all time.  Brian Wilson tried to emulate it in every way possible, and he admitted himself, ‘once you heard that record, you’re a fan forever’.

Joey Zero

Top 10: Live Albums

In some cases, it’s the rawness of a live album that makes it better than a studio one. Undoubtedly, the best live albums are the ones that least require the listener to imagine what it was like to have been there. Perhaps an interesting twist on a well known tune is thrown in, but the song remains loyal to what it is known to be.

10. The Rolling Stones – Get Yer Ya-ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones In Concert

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The Rolling Stones desperately wanted to return to playing live, having not toured since 1967. Just before the release of ‘Let It Bleed’, this album was used to document their live sound, after being hailed as the greatest live band all around by many. With the help of Mick Taylor, The Stones dive deep into their blues roots, with flashy guitar work from Keith Richards and meaty percussion from Charlie Watts.

9. Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club At Carnegie Hall

Buena Vista Social Club At Carnegie Hall [Live]

This album is a true measure of musicianship, with no added ego. Buena Vista Social Club are the pure rhythm and voice of the Cuban people, boasting proficiency on every instrument played – notably Ruben Gonzalez’s piano playing on tracks like ‘Mandinga’. Straight from the heart, this album provides one of the most cultural and interesting of musical insights.

8. Jimi Hendrix – Band Of Gypsys

Jimi_Hendrix_-_Band_Of_Gypsys

Famously the last full-length Jimi Hendrix album before his death, it fused hard rock with R&B, providing the foundations for many bands, like Funkadelic. Having left his old band and picking up Billy Cox and Buddy Miles along the way, this album still keeps Hendrix’s guitar work at the forefront, yet fresh influences are more apparent due to his new bandmates. A truly electric performance, Hendrix engages the audience with thought provoking anti-war lyrics and mesmerising solos.

7. Ray Charles – Berlin, 1962

Berlin, 1962

Recorded live at the Sportpalast, this great recording is the true landmark of Ray Charles’ 60s’ concerts. Unlike previous performances where he had been supported by only a small band (an eight-piece horn band), he manages to further perfect his own work, this time with a big band. With the addition of backing vocals from The Raylettes, Charles masters the art of performing and sets the bar high for other R&B artists.

6. Big Star – Columbia: Live at Missouri University

Columbia_ Live at Missouri University 4_25_93

Big Star’s last hurrah; long since the split of the original band members, Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens added two new members to form an all new line-up. Even with all the changes within the band and the fact that they had gone nearly two decades since performing, Big Star still manage to prove themselves as the ultimate American power-pop rock band. Although Chilton’s voice might have aged, his soulfulness remains intact in tracks ‘The Ballad Of El Goodo’, and ‘September Gurls’.

5. Jerry Lee Lewis – Live At The Star-Club, Hamburg

Live At The Star-Club, Hamburg

Although it was 6 years after his marriage with his 13 year-old cousin was uncovered, Jerry Lee Lewis had reclaimed his musical peak. Of course, his best (‘Great Balls of Fire’ and ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’) are hammered furiously alongside faithful covers of ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Money’, which are met by the audience with great enthusiasm.

4. Aretha Franklin – Aretha Live at Fillmore West

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Opening boldly with her sassy rendition of Otis Redding’s ‘Respect’, Aretha Franklin couldn’t have ever failed to deliver. Upon the insistence by producer Jerry Wexler that a more ‘hippie’ approach ought to be taken in order to appease the San Fransisco audience more, it was decided that songs like ‘Love The One You’re With’ by Stephen Stills were to be added to her already incandescent catalogue.

3. The Who – Live At Leeds

Live At Leeds

Frequently referred today critics alike as the greatest rock concert of all time, The Who don’t miss a beat. After gaining such a reputation from their release of ‘Tommy’, The Who responded by upping their amps and blasting away. Heavier renditions of some blues classics (‘Young Man Blues’ and ‘Summertime Blues’), alongside their stomping classics, in effect, established stadium rock as an genre of interest for the seventies.

2. James Brown – Live At The Apollo

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It was predicted to be a complete flop at the time, but James Brown proved even his own record label wrong – stores were failing to keep up with the high demand, and it ended up charting for a lengthy 66 weeks. Both the tenderness and the excitement are captured here, as Brown takes the audience on a wild ride through the deepest, rawest, most passionate soul there is.

1. Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison

At Folsom Prison

After managing to finally beat his crippling drug addiction, Johnny Cash felt the urge to regain his commercial success. Though he had long since been performing at prisons, this time saw him joined by his wife June Carter, and Carl Perkins on guitar. Cash wins over the hearts of some 2000 prisoners with ease, and the album went on to be the success he very much needed. Despite tales of unrepentant murder and unjust arrest, Cash ultimately redeems himself with this album.

Joey Zero

Top 10: Albums of the Eighties

The Eighties marked the end of punk rock, and the beginning of synth pop, hip-hop, and the domination of arena rock by glam metal bands. It may lack the defining and pivotal events from decades before – Beatlemania in the Sixties, and punk rock in the Seventies – but nonetheless, the Eighties remodelled music as we know it. With its constantly developing sub-genres, rock music became alien to many and natural to others.

10. The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You

Tattoo You

After having to dig deep for new material (due to an impromptu tour), The Stones saw a return to their blues roots – which consequently laid the foundations for one of the least Eighties sounding albums.

9. James Brown – In The Jungle Groove

In the Jungle Groove

Amongst the most sampled albums of all time (‘Funky Drummer’ in particular is used time and time again by hip-hop artists), this 1986 release consists of some of the finest funk ever produced.

8. The Go Go’s – Beauty And The Beat

Beauty And The Beat

Tales of gossip, bitching, and teen love come together in this landmark album. With the opening lines of ‘Can you hear them? They talk about us’, who can help but side with Belinda Carlisle?

7. R.E.M. – Murmur

Murmur

For many, the beginning of alternative rock started with this album. Drawing inspiration from Big Star and The Byrds, R.E.M. created the jingle-jangle masterpiece that is ‘Murmur’. Michael Stipe earns the attention of the listener through his near mumbling vocal style and enigmatic lyrics.

6. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses

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An utterly flawless production that propelled The Stone Roses’ sound years ahead of its time, boasting the eight minute epic ‘I am the Resurrection’ – even today, the 1989 debut album has a mass cult following.

5. Bruce Springsteen – Born in The U.S.A.

Born In The U.S.A. 1

Despite its bold title, ‘Born in The U.S.A.’ is more of an anti-Reagan statement than a glorifying patriotic one. While that part of the album was intentionally ironic, ‘Dancing in the Dark’ – a song written at a time when a depressed Springsteen felt he had reached his trough – became his biggest hit single.

4. The Smiths – The Smiths

The Smiths

This stunningly original album showcases youthful disaffection, operatic sighing, and an Oscar Wilde obsession. With topics ranging from alienation from the gay community to the Moors murders, this album contains many an ode to British teens and is as relevant then as now.

3. Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain

Purple Rain

What Prince’s film debut (of the same name) might lack, the soundtrack makes up for in this idiosyncratic marvel. Unlike previous albums, Prince demonstrated his incredible guitar work, adding to his fundamental blueprint for creating a great pop song (the album gave rise to five hit singles, including his first No. 1).

2. Talking Heads – Remain In Light

Remain In Light

Perfected by the masterful Brian Eno, this eight track delight represents Talking Heads at their apex. The existential ‘Once in a Lifetime’ and Fela-inspired ‘Born Under Punches’ prove even the whitest of East Coast white boys can indulge in a little funk.

1. De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising

3 Feet High And Rising

Humorous and totally unpretentious, ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ takes a step back from the confrontational hip-hop of Public Enemy and Beastie Boys and instead bears a positive and playful attitude. Even rap skeptics alike can’t help but sing along to tracks like ‘The Magic Number’ and ‘Me Myself and I’ – getting down with the kids has never been so effortless.

Joey Zero

Top 10: The Smiths

Debatably one of the most influential bands of the 80s, The Smiths shook the charts like no other. The symbiotic relationship between Johnny Marr and Morrissey effected some of the most masterful guitar playing and mordant lyrics of the last thirty years. All songs considered, here are the top 10 songs that established them as the icons they are today.

10. ‘Panic’

Morrissey’s ‘honey pie’ beguiles the listener, all while discouraging them with the ominous apocalyptic setting. A noteworthy stab at modern music, without the punk attitude.

9. ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’

Without a doubt the song that reflects the essence of the Smiths – Morrissey’s moping and narcissism fused with Johnny Marr’s signature guitar licks.

8. ‘What Difference Does It Make’

A simple blues-based riff, and the third single by The Smiths’ that managed to secure their presence in pop music. Later described by Morrissey as one of his least favourite Smiths’ songs.

7. ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’

A more orchestral production than previous songs, but the same topic nonetheless. The fade out is led by the strings, which only adds to the tenderness of Morrissey’s words: ‘how can they look into my eyes, and still they don’t believe me?’

6. ‘Barbarism Begins At Home’

Definitely The Smiths’ funkiest production, with well over a minute long fade out consisting of slap bass and excitable jangle-pop guitar. Of course, the vocals are still as pained and distressing, as is the lyrical content.

5. ‘Back To The Old House’

A tale of childhood longing, which is mirrored by the simplistic finger-picking guitar and basic layering of the band. Nostalgia shines through as Morrissey’s regret – ‘I would love to go back to the old house’ – becomes apparent as the song progresses.

4. ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’

One of the few songs to present marriage from a male perspective, notably in a negative manner. Innovative modulations and superlative guitar work guarantee a satisfying listen each time.

3. ‘This Night Has Opened My Eyes’

Poetic descriptions of a childbirth make it seem like an Oscar Wilde tale, all perfected by Marr’s vibrato.

2. ‘This Charming Man’

The Smiths’ most popular song to date. A unique use of afro-pop (featuring an incredible fifteen layers of guitars), including Andy Rourke’s Motown-esque bass, all topped by Morrissey’s homoerotic lines, make it the obvious landmark from their debut album.

1. ‘How Soon Is Now’

Perhaps the best song about wanting to be adored (sorry, Stone Roses). The combination of Marr’s unparalleled guitar reverb and the brooding, self-aware lyrics – ‘I am human and I need to be loved’ – help create one of the best laments of all time.

Joey Zero