Here’s the third batch of Music Musings and Miscellany’s unapologetically subjective selection of the twentieth century’s best 1000 singles.
ELVIS COSTELLO – Alison / Welcome to the Working Week (Stiff 14 1977)
SLOWDIVE – Alison (from the Outside Your Room EP, Creation 119 1993)
Costello’s “Alison” is rather a cruel little ballad, mixing pity and contempt for an old lover who’s lost her spark. Slowdive’s “Alison” is serenaded with a sumptuous, soaring surge of blissful guitars. Two sides of love – sour and sweet.
MARXMAN – All About Eve / mixes (Talkin’ Loud 35 1993)
“All About Eve” sounds like the very essence of lazy summer days, with its life-affirming sampled soul chorus. The lyrics tell a very different story. It’s the tale of a woman, caught in an abusive relationship who eventually dies at the hands of her lover/oppressor, told from the standpoint of confused, guilt-ridden friends who failed to appreciate the signs and step in before it was too late. Marxman were a short-lived quartet from Bristol and Ireland who took their sound from Massive Attack, but applied a hard-edged political dimension.
JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE – All Along the Watchtower / Long Hot Summer Night (Track 604025 1968)
Still stunning forty years later.
BIG BILL BROONZY – All By Myself / Double Trouble (Okeh 6427 1941)
Broonzy may have come to the fore during the folk revival, reinvented as a rediscovered pre-war troubadour from the cotton fields, but at heart he was an early exponent of good time rhythm and blues, as this classic from 1941 illustrates well.
KINKS – All Day and All of the Night / I Gotta Move (Pye 15714 1964)
BYRDS – All I Really Want To Do / Feel a Whole Lot Better (Columbia 43332 1965)
Well thumbed sixties classics, true, but still great records.
BJÖRK – All Is Full of Love / mixes (One Little Indian 242 1999)
This slow-moving techno ballad is forever associated with Chris Cunningham’s stunning video of robots in love in my mind. A rare example of sound and vision coming together to create a single, greater artwork in its own right.
A CERTAIN RATIO – All Night Party / The Thin Boys (Factory 5 1979)
Tinny dispassionate funk from Factory’s unsung heroes ACR. Simon Topping’s shaky vocal is as cold and unemotional as his observations (“…I saw a man get stabbed / he made no mess / I made no fuss / the all night party just goes on”).
FRANK SINATRA – All of Me / I Went Down to Virginia (Columbia 381663 1947)
These days, Sinatra’s Capitol era is (rightly) lauded as his creative zenith, but to dismiss his Columbia work as juvenilia is unfair. Many of his best singles were recorded in his pre-Capitol days . “All of Me”, for example, has a brash, brassy, youthful zip to its two minutes.