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Liam

1,001 songs to listen to before you die...

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Ne Me Quitte Pas had to be in this, the lyrics are pretty spectacular and it really allowed French music to pass into a world where sensitivity for men was welcome.

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Love that Eddie Cochran is on here. He's brilliant, one of my favorites from that era (another that died tragically at a young age). 

Also, Blue Cheers cover of Summertime Blues is one of my favorite covers.

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Blue Cheer's Summertime Blues is superb, but I don't think I know a bad version of it. Guitar Wolf's is extraordinary.

love Jacques Brel, and as I get older prefer his versions to the Scott Walker interpretations that made me aware of him. Walker is one of my all-time favourites, but the arrangements are all too bombastic for Brel, who should feel slightly seedy and paranoid. Nina Simone's version of this song is wonderful, though.

Mack The Knife is a great tune, but the more I got into Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, and into The Threepenny Opera, the weirder I find it that it became a finger-clicking swing standard. The Tiger Lillies do a good version that feels closer in spirit to the original, while maintaining most of the established English lyrics.

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I grew up knowing Summertime Blues as an Alan Jackson country song. It still blows my mind to hear it sung by rock groups.

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I think the first Summertime Blues I heard was the Who Live at Leeds cover. That's a nice one too.

And then there's the Beach Boys one which is the drizzling shits. So so so bad.

Eddie Cochran one is probably still my favourite all told.

Edited by metalman
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13 hours ago, How The Cloud Stole Christ said:

@Liam I'm having withdrawals here

I've been very busy but shall have some more up later today.

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112.      

‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’, Diahann Carroll and the Andre Previn Trio (1959)

Initially from the musical ‘Porgy and Bess’, the original version from the film that was released in 1959 saw Sammy Davis Jr. sing it, though without a release on the soundtrack CD due to contractual obligations. After the film’s release, Carroll and Previn returned to the song with a sparser, jazzier arrangement. Carroll has a sultriness to her voice that I really like, whilst the piano work is playfully working in the background to effectively accompany her vocal work. It starts to fall a little into the category of ‘pleasant enough’, though Carroll has a good enough voice to elevate it slightly beyond that.

113.      

‘Wondrous Place’, Billy Fury (1960)

Into the Sixties! This sounds like nothing I’ve heard yet, with a UK pop/rock and roll singer attempting to filter Elvis Presley’s vocal stylings through an echo chamber and creating something that is eminently catchy. It has more legs than most of the songs as it has – at least in the UK – maintained some traction due to its use in adverts and with various cover versions. The recording makes it feel otherworldly and adds another layer of interest to what is otherwise a good pop song. Fury liked the song so much, he recorded it four more times.

114.      

‘Save The Last Dance For Me’, The Drifters (1960)

A bittersweet song (the writer of the song had been left unable to walk without crutches, penning this song about his own inability to dance with his wife at their own wedding), the use of a Brazilian ‘baion’ beat and the amount of strings in the arrangement were considered novel for the time. Ben E. King really did take on board the narrative within the song and delivered a great vocal filled with frustration and yearning, whilst the melody provides a catchy rhythm whilst also allowing the lyrics room to breathe and be understood.

115.      

‘Chaje Shukarije’, Esma Redzepova (1960)

The perfect example of a song that I just don’t really get – lyrically, musically, societally – but just think is good fun. It isn’t surprising that a song by ‘The Queen of the Gypsies’ probably isn’t within my usual wheelhouse, but her success over the years at bringing Romany music to international audiences has been lauded. Hell, when you Youtube this song and see her still performing it live into the 2000s, you have to give her a lot of credit.

116.      

‘Oh Carolina’, The Folks Brothers (1960)

File this under the category of ‘original song to covers I should have realised were covers all along’, even if that is a little bit unwieldy. Apparently the first Prince Buster production and one of the first songs with a real Rastafarian flavour to it that made it big, it is an essential slice of pop that still earns a head nod and shuffle along even today. Probably why it was made into that cover that was clearly a cover all along you idiot.

117.      

‘The Click Song (Qongqothwane)’, Miriam Makeba (1960)

You might as well copy and paste the words under 115 as this pretty much has the same response from me. It is worlds away from anything I’d listen to normally, but it is a good song to listen to, mixing the percussion, vocals and clicking in a way that is catchy irrelevant of your musical sphere of interest. The click sound is supposed to mimic the sound of a dung beetle when it is preparing to mate as it bands its abdomen on the floor – the more you know. Similar to 115, this primarily gets into the book as it opened up the world to a new type of music that was out there. Can’t argue too much with that.

Edited by Liam
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The album that The Click Song is on is also in 1001 Albums to Listen to Before You Die so I listened to it in full a couple years ago. On top of that song, I'd wholeheartedly recommend listening to "One More Dance," which is a darkly funny song but is especially great because for whatever reason the dude she sings it as a duet with is cracking up the whole time.

I love "Wondrous Place." I'm sure I must have heard it before the book but listening to it for the purposes of reading the book really locked it in place as a good song. Like you said, I think the production is really what separates it from other good songs of its ilk.

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"It Ain't Necessarily So" has one of my favourite rhyming couplets ever, with "he made his home in/that fish's abdomen".

My Mum adored Billy Fury - the first time my parents went to Liverpool, she was insistent on getting a photo with the statue of him - but I've never really listened to him before. I like it!

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118.      

‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’, The Shirelles (1960)

This isn’t the first song that I’d barely really considered the lyrical content from when it comes to this list, so to dig a little deeper was very interesting. In an era that wasn’t yet all about free love, a song about a lady sleeping with her partner and debating whether he might still be around the next day was groundbreaking stuff. Add to that that this symbolised the beginning of a phase of girl groups and it was a much more ‘important’ song than I’d realised. Outside of all of this, it is a great pop song. Catchy, with a perfect mix of melody and well-sung vocals. Good song is good – sometimes that’s all there is.

119.      

‘Love Hurts’, The Everly Brothers (1960)

The second Everly Brothers song on the list, though personally one I don’t enjoy as much as ‘All I Have To Do is Dream’. Just like that aforementioned song, The Brothers’ harmonising is front and central and it is undeniably a good song, it just lacks that little something to put it over the top. Perhaps it is as simple as the first song was one that I’d heard more of when I was younger, so my enjoyment had more than a tinge of nostalgia, something which doesn’t carry this one.

120.      

‘September Song’, Ella Fitzgerald (1960)

Another act who has had more than one song appear so far in the list, this is Fitzgerald once again showcasing her impeccable vocal stylings in a love song that is all about the ease with which she delivers every line. There is a sultriness to her vocal, a subdued nature to the accompaniment, a warmth in her tone; all add up to a beautiful, intimate feeling tune. As I’ve mentioned before, my legitimate musical knowledge in terms of the component parts is somewhat limited, but it always feels that Fitzgerald has a really good range, at least in terms of an ability to mix low and high, offering a well rounded vocal that can never be considered monotone in nature.

Edited by Liam
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121.      

‘Shakin’ All Over’, Johnny Kid and the Pirates (1960)

Influenced by: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On• Jerry Lee Lewis (1957)   

Influence on: Back in Black • AC/DC (1980)   

Covered by: The Swinging Blue Jeans (1964) • The Guess Who (1965) • Suzi Quatro (1973) • Alvin Stardust (1979) • Cliff Richard (1981) • Mud (1982)

Unless I am misremembering which songs have come from the UK, this is one of the first rock and roll songs from this sceptred isle that feels legitimately cool. The US had already proved that they could do rock and roll, whilst a lot of what has come from the Brits thus far felt like pale imitation. This has the swagger, the sexiness, the mood. To me, the staccato picked guitar sound in particular sets the foundations upon which the rest can really soar. An excellent song in my opinion.

122.      

‘Non, Je ne regrette rien’, Edith Piaf (1960)

I sometimes find it hard to put my finger on what I like about the Piaf I have heard, but her multitude of musical fans helped (with David Bowie, Emmylou Harris and Lou Reed all quoted in the book). The big thing with Piaf is that you believe every word that comes out of her mouth, whether you understand it or not. When you add that believability to the soaring nature of the overall tune, it isn’t surprising to see why it became Piaf’s signature tune following its release.

123.      

‘Spanish Harlem’, Ben E. King (1961)

Marking his split from the Drifters with a name change and an attempt at a solo career led us to Ben E. King singing ‘Spanish Harlem’ as his first real hit post-break up. As addressed by the book and agreed by myself, there is a lot going on in a relatively short song between the percussion, vocalising, and King’s own delivery, and it all builds up effectively to create a sense of longing. This is a song about a place that King himself grew up and there is a tinge of that nostalgia permeating through everything in the three minute run time that I particularly enjoy.

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I've always found it hard to comprehend how Edith Piaf managed to roll her /r/ phonemes like that. Regardless, it's a song I've liked for a long time and one whose lyrics are simple and effective.

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Damn how did I ever miss Johnny Kid and the Pirates? That's really brilliant. Just figured out that the Motorhead/Girlschool song "Please Don't Touch" is a cover of these dudes, very nice. 

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124.      

‘Mad About The Boy’, Dinah Washington (1961)

Apparently at a time in her career where people were considering her somewhat of a sellout for moving away from the blues to ballads and torch songs, Washington recorded this in what was arguably the most lucrative period of her career. This was the second recording with nine years between them; this one was pitched squarely at a broader audience than the rather low key first attempt. Quincy Jones provides the lush melody upon which Washington lays her frustrations, her vocals both beautiful and caustic in equal measure. A strong outing, that’s for sure.

125.      

‘Lazy River’, Bobby Darin (1961)

I care a lot less for this song than I do for Darin’s version of ‘Mack The Knife’, though it is good to hear a song given the full swing treatment by someone who is clearly at the top of his game – if that is what you like, of course. That Darin chose to eschew rock and roll to continue his vein of pop-swing also earns some kudos from me. A mixture of artistic integrity and knowing what you are good at meant that Darin continued to pump out the hits irrelevant of the doubts of his record label. Fair play to the lad.

126.      

‘Back Door Man’, Howlin’ Wolf (1961)

A product of Willie Dixon’s run of post-war blues, Howlin’ Wolf was working his way through Dixon’s back catalogue when he struck success with ‘Back Door Man’. The raspy snarl of Wolf works excellently for a song that is creepy, predatory and sexual all in one. The insistent and driving nature of the guitar just adds to the uneasy tone set across the song as a whole. It is good to hear this more raw music juxtaposed against things such as the previous two songs, showcasing a wide variety of offerings for the old school music fan (or contemporary music fan of the time period).

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On 18/02/2020 at 03:47, VerbalPuke said:

Damn how did I ever miss Johnny Kid and the Pirates? That's really brilliant. Just figured out that the Motorhead/Girlschool song "Please Don't Touch" is a cover of these dudes, very nice. 

You would love them. 

Shakin' All Over has a really Link Wray-esque menace and swagger to it, which UK rock and roll just didn't have at the time. You can definitely hear why Lemmy was into them. They were also a major influence on Dr Feelgood, and Kidd's attention to the visual element, and the pirate gimmick, was really ahead of its time. 

The Pirates, sans Johnny Kidd, are still around, and while they're not exactly reinventing the wheel, they've got a couple of fun live albums out there. 

"September Song" is an interesting one, as it's another interpretation of a Kurt Weill song a la Mack the Knife, though this time without Bertolt Brecht, as it's from later in Weill's career when he had emigrated to America. It's from a satirical musical attacking FDR, and suggesting that government over-reach was the start of encroaching fascism in the US. At this point, Weill's music was still (along with a lot of songs from musicals) still being farmed for jazz standards and swing arrangements - September Song was covered by Sinatra and Crosby too - but within a couple of decades would come to be marked as a much more counter-cultural frame of reference, as the likes of Lou Reed, Tom Waits, William S. Burroughs, and David Bowie start mining the songbook in the early '80s. 

 

What we're starting to see as the list goes on is the slow emergence away from blues, jazz and gospel, and towards rock, pop, and soul. Spanish Harlem, the Shirelles and the Everly Brothers are all setting the tone for Phil Spector being primed to dominate the sound of pop music for a few years.

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Move It is the first cool British rock song, not Shakin All Over. Just forget what you know about Cliff Richard now and consider it against its contemporaries.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow is a good one, probably the first of quite a few Carole King tunes we're going to see.

Back Door Man is excellent.

The rest are pretty good but I don't really have anything to say about them.

 

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54 minutes ago, metalman said:

Move It is the first cool British rock song, not Shakin All Over. Just forget what you know about Cliff Richard now and consider it against its contemporaries.

I get your point, but 'Move It' felt like a poor take on what the US was doing based on what I'd heard from the book. Shakin' All Over was so much better to me.

127.      

‘The Red Rooster’, Howlin’ Wolf (1961)

A rare example (up until now) of subsequent songs by the same artist and from the same album. Also, up until now, a lot of enjoyment I’ve gained from songs has come from the feeling of noise or pace within the increasing shift towards rock and roll music. ‘The Red Rooster’ is slow and almost meditative in its plodding melody, whilst Wolf’s slide guitar is the standout sound as the lyrics metaphorically tell the story of an erring husband out on the prowl. A step below ‘Back Door Man’ for me, but an indication that perhaps ‘Howlin’ Wolf’ (1962), the eponymous album with both songs on, might be worth a listen.

128.      

‘Johnny Remember Me’, John Leyton (1961)

This is considered one of the prime examples of a ‘death disc’, a melodramatic genre of music that told tales of Romeo and Juliet-esque doomed love affairs. The song was banned for its lyrics that didn’t specifically reference the lady’s death, but with spectral female vocals, things left little to the imagination. What stands out to me here is the galloping guitar that underpins the whole song, grabbing the attention from the opening bars and driving the song along throughout. Chas (of Chas and Dave fame) laid down the bass, whilst the songwriter Geoff Goddard stated that Buddy Holly came to him in a dream with the song.

129.      

‘I Fall To Pieces’, Patsy Cline (1961)

Mixing the narrative tales of a country singer with the delivery of a pop singer, Cline’s career looked set to be an illustrious one before she unfortunately perished in a plane crash in 1963. ‘I Fall To Pieces’ was somewhat of a second start for Cline as she’d had some success in 1957, yet had struggled to replicate that with the singles that followed. This is a pleasing song, one that perhaps meant more to someone at the time period than now. In setting the bar for what a country music ballad might sound like, Cline’s style has become somewhat ubiquitous, dampening somewhat the impact for a modern audience.

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I prefer the Rolling Stones version of Little Red Rooster. It has a bit more zip to it. Also the Howlin Wolf album is a compilation of previously released singles (although a good one) so it might not actually count for the whole songs from the same album thing!

Never heard that John Leyton one before. It's interesting. I'll come back to it.

I Fall To Pieces is excellent. I like it a lot.

Edited by metalman

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5 minutes ago, metalman said:

I prefer the Rolling Stones version of Little Red Rooster. It has a bit more zip to it. Also the Howlin Wolf album is a compilation of previously released singles (although a good one) so it might not actually count for the whole songs from the same album thing!

Hmmm, they have it listed as coming from the same 'album' or collection. I think they just list the first release of the songs, though I'm not 100% sure.

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love "Johnny Remember Me", it's such an odd song - it has a sense of "Ghost Riders In The Sky" style country to it, but distorted through the weirdness of Joe Meek's production and wacky electronics to give it that otherworldly feel, and then just getting increasingly bombastic. Brilliant, brilliant tune. I imagine we'll see Meek make the list again soon for "Telstar".

It's been covered by, amongst others, John Cooper Clarke & Hugh Cornwell, The Meteors, and Dave Vanian of the Damned, all versions worth listening to.

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