Here’s the latest batch of Music Musings and Miscellany’s unapologetically subjective selection of the twentieth century’s best 1000 singles. The last of the Ws
TRIFFIDS – Wide Open Road / Time of Weakness (Hot 1986)
Being the most geographically isolated city in the world, there are a lot of wide open roads heading out of Perth in Western Australia, hometown of the Triffids. The nearest major city, Adelaide is 2100km away. That’s not far short of the distance between London and Athens (or New York and Houston). Driving such a distance gives you a hell of a long time for reflection, and this song captures that perfectly.
JOE VENUTI & EDDIE LANG – Wild Cat / Sunshine (Okeh 1927)
Before Grappelli and Reinhardt there was Venuti and Lang, two Italian-Americans who made the violin and guitar jazz instruments. Their best work together was as a duo. In the pre-amplification days, both instruments struggled to make themselves heard over horns and drums, so they work best without those distractions. Wild Cat is dynamite – frightening fast exremely hard to play. It sits somewhere between an old time country hoedown, hot jazz and show-off virtuosity of the Paganini kind.
TROGGS – Wild Thing / From Home (Fontana 1966)
The song’s ridiculous. The riff is mega. Hendrix concentrated on the latter, the Goodies on the former on covers that were both true to the original in their own way. British garage rock at its finest.
CARTER FAMILY – Wildwood Flower / Forsaken Love (Victor 1928)
One of the best loved Carter Family songs, and with good reason. I think its Sara who sings lead with a heavily accented but beautiful tone, but it’s Maybelle’s guitar that steals the show. It was credited as an AP song, but it’s really an arrangement of something much older. More than 80 years on, it sounds absolutely fresh.
SHIRELLES – Will You Love Me Tomorrow? / Boys (Scepter 1960)
Teen girl songs of fifty years ago tended to disguise the pubescent hormonal rush in something sickly sweet. Think Born Too Late or 16 Candles. Carole King took the formula and gave it some much needed grit, although she was obviously bound by the strict censorship and conventions of the day. On the surface, Will You Love Me Tomorrow? is a classic teen weepie that sticks to the template. But the underlying message of teenage sex (gasp) and the real fears of a girl worrying whether she lost her virginity in a one night stand or if the boy was serious about her is much more realistic, caged as it had to be by a heavy disguise.
SABRES OF PARADISE – Wilmot / mixes (Warp 1994)
A looped horn sample paired with a stuttering dub beat, this Sabres’ tune has a slightly nightmarish quality about it, like some hallucinogenic voodoo.
JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE – The Wind Cries Mary / Highway Chile (Track 1967)
A kind of psychedelic blues ballad that’s slightly disorientating. A world away from the heavy blues of Hey Joe or the trip-rock of Purple Haze. But just as great.
APHEX TWIN – Windowlicker / Formula / Nannou (Warp 1999)
The video was so outrageous and unforgettable, that the actual track was almost relegated to its soundtrack. A cheeky demolition of the clichéd hip hop video with the bootylicious babes turning into scary RJD-a-likes. The tune also warps convention, twisting Timbaland type beats and plastic R&B keyboards into something monstrous. A total mind-fuck on every level.
BOMB THE BASS – Winter In July / mixes (Rhythm King 1991)
Unfairly derided as the poor man’s Coldcut, whizzkid Tim Simenon made some startlingly good tracks. Winter In July is a ballad that would sit quite comfortably on Blue Lines and predated the trip hop clone army of the likes of Morcheeba, Sneaker Pimps, Mono (not the Japanese band) by some time. Singer Loretta Heywood is still active, but has never really made it beyond being guest vocalist on other folk’s records. It’s a shame, because she has a great voice.
SAM COOKE – Wonderful World / Along the Navajo Trail (Keen 1960)
Pop-soul at its finest
WHO – Won’t Get Fooled Again / I Don’t Even Know Myself (Track 1971)
WAR – The World Is a Ghetto / Four Cornered Room (United Artists 1972)
Neither of these songs are best represented by their single edits, especially Won’t Get Fooled Again which was cruelly butchered to sit on the side of a 45. The World Is a Ghetto, too, works much better when its full ten minutes are allowed to slowly unfurl.
KATE BUSH – Wow / Fullhouse (EMI 1979)
Wow is like a stage musical about the life of an ageing, failing actor crammed into three minutes. Magnificently dramatic.
Two to go!