Here’s the latest batch of Music Musings and Miscellany’s unapologetically subjective selection of the twentieth century’s best 1000 singles. This completes the A’s.
ONLY ONES – Another Girl, Another Planet / Special View (CBS 6228 1978)
Almost makes heroin addiction sound like fun. Guitarist John Perry is the star on this one, with his unforgettable intro, and equally good solo.
JOE MORRIS ORCHESTRA – Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere / Come Back Daddy, Daddy (Atlantic 914 1950)
WHO – Anywhere, Anywhere, Anyhow / Daddy Rolling Stone (Brunswick 5935 1965)
The Joe Morris Orchestra was an R&B revue show in a similar mould to the phenomenally successful Johnny Otis outfit. Featured vocalist on “Anytime” was one Laurie Tate who spent just eighteen months with the band before retiring from music to raise a family. Morris died in 1958 from a cerebral haemorrhage aged just 36. The Who’s similarly named track is from the time when they concentrated on three minute energy-packed tunes, well before the era of ghastly rock operas.
SHADOWS – Apache / Quatermaster’s Stores (EMI Columbia 4484 1960)
Sounds a bit polite these days, but “Apache” was pretty out there in 1960. The Shadows were marketed as a surf group in the US! The tune was covered by the Incredible Bongo Band in the seventies, and it’s from that version that the “Apache” drum break was taken – a near ubiquitous rhythm in hip hop.
COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA – April in Paris / Roll ’em Pete (Clef 89162 1956)
Big Band music was moribund, to put it mildly, by the mid fifties. Two albums changed that, at least for a while – Ellington’s 1958 Newport Jazz Festival live album, and Basie’s April in Paris. The title track has all the gleeful exuberance of one of those fifties romantic comedies inevitably starring Audrey Hepburn and set in Rome, Venice or Paris.
ORBITAL – Are We Here / mixes (Internal LIE15 1994)
To my mind Snivilization is Orbital’s best album, and the epic “Are We Here” is one of its best tracks. Part philosophical treatise on the human animal’s place in the universe, and part languid techno monster. What’s not to like?
FIRST CHOICE – Armed and Extremely Dangerous / Gonna Keep On Lovin’ Him (Philly Groove 175 1973)
First Choice were a female Philly Soul vocal group in the Three Degrees mould. “Armed and Extremely Dangerous” has a real swagger to it – a proto-disco dancefloor classic.
PINK FLOYD – Arnold Layne / Candy and a Currant Bun (EMI Columbia 8156 1967)
Innocent pop, weird lyrics and psyched-out guitar lines – ladies and gentlemen, we present Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett. No group before or since has fused catchy pop melodies with the avant-garde with quite the panache that the Floyd did for a brief period in 1967. I’m not one of those people who dismisses all of their post-Barrett stuff, far from it. Effectively, though, they were two different groups.
STEVIE WONDER – As / Confusion (Tamla 54921 1977)
Songs in the Key of Life is sprawling, unwieldy, self-indulgent, inconsistent – and bloody marvelous. “As” is one of the highlights – a massive Gospel-tinged epic love song.
FOUR TOPS – Ask the Lonely / Where Did You Go? (Motown 1073 1965)
Nobody (save, perhaps, Roy Orbison) could sing with such hurt as Levi Stubbs. The more miserable the song, the more passionate he would sound, paradoxically making despair sound cathartic and almost joyful. “Ask the Lonely” is definitely one of those.
GANG OF FOUR – At Home He’s a Tourist / It’s Her Factory (EMI 2956 1979)
The galloping rhythm of Dave Allen’s bass, Andy Gill’s unique slash and burn guitar and Jon King’s flat, declamatory vocals make this one of the very greatest singles of the post-punk era. It’s the record the likes of Radio Four, Franz Ferdinand and their ilk have been trying (and failing) to make over the past half decade.
KRAFTWERK – Autobahn / Kometenmelodie (Vertigo 6147012 1975)
Inexplicably a hit, at the time this chopped down edit of Kraftwerk’s first masterpiece was considered a bit of a novelty tune. It sounds slightly primitive today compared to the electronic sheen of their classic period. But it was the sound of the future.