Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Beatles capsules: other studio bootlegs

(I wrote this a year ago, in April 2020. Apologies if any material therein is now outdated.)

Those of us cursed with the Beatles obsession often find ourselves wandering down strange alleyways of minutiae; part of it is not wanting to be "done" with hearing the entire output of the best rock band the world's ever known, which is why it's a major world event every time something new surfaces, officially or unofficially... but part of it also comes from the rush of a real find, like the first time you hear the end of the extended "It's All Too Much," or Paul's demo of "Goodbye," or some of the wilder jams on "She's a Woman" and "What You're Doing," or "Revolution 1" take 20, and wanting to recapture that, plundering the darker corners of the fandom hoping for some similar experience. They are few and far between, but they're out there.

One thing that should be addressed somewhere is the unissued Sessions album, which appeared on EMI's release schedule in 1984 and even had artwork assigned (which I've here given to the Unusual Mixes set at the bottom of this page) but never made it to the marketplace because of complaints from the surviving Beatles and the John Lennon estate. Nevertheless, its contents all became highlights of the later official Anthology project. It consisted of some tracks that had been bootlegged in some form as well as many that had never been heard outside Abbey Road at all, all controversially remixed and "modernized" by Geoff Emerick. (Emerick's mixes were inherited by the Anthology CDs, to the chagrin of many.) The tracks were: the demo of "Come and Get It" (ultimately released on Anthology 3), "Leave My Kitten Alone" (Anthology 1), "Not Guilty" (3), the outtake version of "I'm Looking Through You" (Anthology 2), "What's the New Mary Jane" (3), "How Do You Do It?" (1), the EMI recording-test version of "Besame Mucho" (1), the 1963 performance of "One After 909" (1), "If You've Got Trouble" (2), "That Means a Lot" (2), George Harrison's solo demo of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (3), "Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues" (3) and an edit of "Christmas Time Is Here Again" (the "Free as a Bird" CD single). Emerick's mixes are very heavy on echo and, like the 1987 mixes of the Help! and Rubber Soul albums, have dated badly, although this doesn't dismiss what a goldmine of material this would eventually turn out to be for those of us who, in the 1990s, didn't otherwise have access to unauthorized releases. Sessions played a pivotal role in both the bootleg market as it stretched into the CD era, and in launching a more fruitful era of Beatles archival releases, despite its initial failure, and so we must pay our respects to it.

On this page I've listed and reviewed boots that don't warrant reviews of their own, usually because the material they cover is better examined in official releases elsewhere even though it's more exhaustively covered on these collections. Does that make sense? There's also a bootleg of unbelievably silly minutiae that I made myself.

The Beatles: I Hope We Passed the Audition (bootleg [Purple Chick] 1961-69) [r]
Or more accurately, the (nearly*) complete "Beatles with Pete Best"; "audition" isn't fully correct for anything here, as we'll see. This is Purple Chick's catch-all package for every professional Beatles recording before Ringo joined the band (in other words everything prior to the second EMI date on September 4, 1962). This is the album I pull up when I want to listen to this stuff, but it doesn't warrant a full review because its contents are examined at length in separate entries for the 1961 Bert Kaempfert sessions with Tony Sheridan (In the Beginning) and for the so-called Decca audition tape, which was actually a recording test rather than an audition. (That the Beatles already felt they had a Decca deal in the bag made that day especially disappointing.) Lastly, the PC set adds the two songs from the surviving acetate of the first EMI session with George Martin on June 6, 1962, prior to Pete's dismissal (this too was not really an audition, despite long being thought of as one); I talk about those tracks, the Pete version of "Love Me Do" and "Besame Mucho," in the context of their official release on Anthology 1. All that said, this is the most complete gathering of both the German studio sessions and the Decca tape and is really all you need for a full perspective on everything before the session for the first single. As a listening experience it's slightly awkward because the purpose of the Kaempfert and Decca material is so different, and because the chronological arrangement sends "Sweet Georgia Brown" periodically creeping back in like a sickness, but this is all music that big fans should have and it's the best way to keep it all together comprehensively. The only point of criticism one can have is that the mono mixes of the Sheridan material aren't included, but that's going far afield of relevance even for me. Unlike everything the Beatles ever laid down on tape at EMI, the Kaempfert sessions are actually audiophile-quality and timelessly slick-sounding, which wouldn't have pleased them -- they liked the filthy sound of '50s R&B -- but does make for an interesting listen. (Note: the odd 1969 date in the header is because PC cleverly if unnecessarily closes out the set with John's titular joke from the album version of "Get Back.")

(* "Nearly" because it doesn't have the BBC recordings that feature Best on drums.)

The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Multitracks (bootleg 1967) [r]
One of the most recent additions to the canon of mysterious Beatles bootlegs, this collection of separated four-track elements from four songs on Sgt. Pepper surfaced around 2007. It's not to be confused with the artificially separated elements you can find courtesy of the Beatles Rock Band video game; these are transfers of the actual tapes, including some discarded elements that were mixed out of the released tracks. The songs under the microscope are "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "She's Leaving Home," "A Day in the Life" and "With a Little Help from My Friends." Highlights that never seemed so impressive before include the monstrous electric guitar on the title track; the surprisingly intricate harmony vocal on "She's Leaving Home" (the same song also reveals a brief cello interlude edited out of the released cut); the stunning isolated vocals for "A Day in the Life"; and the incredible bass and drums on "A Day in the Life," as well as the disused tack piano-like track on the same song. In fact, everything about "A Day in the Life" is the reason to track this down. (It often appears as a bonus sixth disc on the Purple Chick set for Pepper.) Somewhat superfluous: the inclusion of several multitrack remixes made by the compilers, but more important is the fact that you can now do the same thing yourself with the proper software. Have fun. We only wish similar "stems and seeds"-like sources existed for all the Beatles' music, as these are extremely engrossing.

The Beatles: Anthology Plus (bootleg [2CD] 1960-69) [r]
This is only here because I have a soft spot for it as the first Beatles bootleg I ever acquired, after years of hearing other fans fawn over the stuff that was available on back channels. Heard today, it's a highly imperfect collection (kind of a "best of" of boots) meant very specifically to supplement the Anthology discs with some of the most well-loved unreleased but circulating material that didn't make the cut of those collections, some of which we know to have been up for inclusion but vetoed by one of the then-surviving Beatles or Yoko Ono. (It goes so far as to incorporate the b-sides from the "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" singles.) That's the only explanation of why Paul's solo demo of "Goodbye," one of the loveliest performances Paul's ever put on tape, isn't on Anthology 3. (It was finally let out into the world for real in 2019.) Now that I've heard pretty much all of the studio material that has leaked out over the years, it's a little harder for me to recapture the feeling I first had when hearing those 1960 versions of "I'll Follow the Sun" and "One After 909," the Cavern rehearsal of "I Saw Her Standing There," John's gorgeous solo bathroom demo of "Bad to Me" (finally officially released in 2013), the remarkable banter that joins outtakes of "Don't Bother Me" and "She's a Woman," the rawer take 2 of "I'm a Loser," the self-parodying sound of the band totally giving up on "That Means a Lot," the liberating psychedelic rant and rave of the complete "It's All Too Much," the Esher demos of "Revolution" and "Back in the U.S.S.R." (finally issued by Apple in 2018), the grinding raw early takes of "Two of Us" and "Get Back," and the exquisite jam "Suzy Parker." I have to admit, too, that this is a pretty perfect introduction to the depth of lovely sounds available on Beatles boots without the attendant repetition, and well-compiled with a good sense of both historical significance and musical quality. The main corrections I'd make, taking into account how much has been released since this surfaced in 2007, would be adding the legendary take 11 of "What You're Doing," the alternate mix of the Abbey Road medley and, inevitably, "Revolution" take 20... and perhaps the extended variations of "Something" and "She's a Woman" that circulate. There's very little else that feels glaring in its absence.

The usual dictum applies, however: if you care enough to seek this out, you probably care enough to go for broke and shoot for the stars by tracking down the whole catalog of Purple Chick deluxe editions. Still, this is a listenable and lovely primer on what still exists in the vaults, and I wouldn't be opposed to an update. (I wish we could just hear everything that got vetoed from the Anthology project.) But again, this is me being sentimental. Since I didn't hear "Bad to Me" and "Goodbye" until I was an adult -- which differentiates it from every officially released Beatles track up to 2012; I'd heard them all before I was out of middle school -- the associations I have with those performances are particularly strong. I write more properly about them in the Home Recordings review, but let me just say, "Goodbye" takes me right back to one of the few lovely moments in a very distinctive time and place in my life, and I'm grateful for that sense of intoxication I still get it from it -- and I owe that specific sensation to this specific compilation.

The Beatles: (Unusual mixes) (bootleg 1963-66)
Like the Beach Boys' masterpiece Latter-Day Odds and Ends, this is a compilation I made myself, and I only include it here because it's a handy way to mention a few things that I don't have a better place to address. In part it's extremely specific to my own collection because it contains the errant unique mixes from various releases I don't happen to have in digital formats, like the 1993 CD of the Red album (these sound quite good actually and must have been nice to run across when the relevant songs were only available in mono on disc), Hey Jude and Reel Music; but since I do have MP3 needledrops of Rock 'n' Roll Music and Love Songs, those aren't here, nor are any of the alternate mixes included on the Purple Chick bootleg downloads. And I don't bother with fake stereo or fold-downs. A more comprehensive version of this same basic idea, for those with completist tendencies, can be found on the Every Little Thing bootleg series, which was actually my source for a few of the very hard to find pieces here. To build it I used the indispensable and oddly fascinating Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations (that's a more up-to-date version of the file than the one that existed when I put this together). Below are the tracks I included that are not mentioned elsewhere in this discography. Keep in mind this is extreme ephemera, and most of them are featured on the basis of fan speculation that they are legitimate alternate mixes that's by no means verified.

Don't Bother Me [Canadian stereo with defect]: Found on a very specific mid-1970s reissue of Meet the Beatles! only issued in Canada, this has what sounds like George coming in too early on the "don't" on "don't come around, leave me alone" but it's since been explained as a mastering error (with an engineer accidentally briefly letting the monitor sound, which is about two seconds ahead, slip onto the cutting master).

I Want to Hold Your Hand [1965 stereo mix]: George Martin's awful first attempt to mix this song to stereo dates from 1963; the result, which is akin to his twintrack stereo dubs, only appeared on an obscure Australian 7" but was used on the Purple Chick With the Beatles boot. This is a much better, fuller-sounding second remix from two years later, again for foreign markets, this time for various LPs in Germany, Holland and Australia. The canon mix, heard on A Collection of Beatles Oldies and most UK releases since, followed a year later and finally made it out to the larger world on the 1988 Past Masters CD. The second mix was never released in the UK or U.S., but I'm not sure why PC ignored it as it is noticeably different, especially in the levels on the guitars.

A Hard Day's Night [extended cassette version]: As on some prints of the film, this artificially extended mix of the song repeats the ending guitar line a few extra times, but weirder yet, on various eight-track and compact cassette versions of the United Artists original soundtrack album issued in the late '60s and early '70s, the "you know I feel all right" chorus repeats several extra times, apparently to match up the lengths of the sides and avoid extra dead air. Pretty strange!

Paperback Writer [U.S. stereo]: From the Hey Jude LP, later used on the U.S. Red album, this sounds quite different from the standard mix (first released on A Collection of Beatles Oldies) but PC doesn't include it likely because there is speculation it's the same mix with channels reversed and some slight balancing adjustments. That said, Lewisohn lists three stereo mixes made on the same day, so it could easily be a legit variant.

Finally, something I own but haven't bothered to include here is a 1986 remix of "Twist and Shout"; I'm sure it circulates digitally somewhere but I have it on a vinyl 7" Capitol put out that year to promote Ferris Bueller's Day Off, one of the last movies to license a Beatles tune before a nearly two-decade lapse. There are some balancing differences in the single, which is in stereo; interesting enough for me to pay a quarter for the disc but not enough for me to create or track down an MP3. [Update: Since I wrote this I've begun trying to collect the major mix variants on vinyl; I recently paid $5 for a mono Beatles' Second Album in shit condition -- this is a terrible decision on my part and I need someone to come to my house and stop me. Thanks, see you then.]

Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Beatles capsules: compilations 1966-1986

Once again I've broken all my promises about taking care of this blog -- you'll just have to believe me that I've continued to work diligently behind the scenes. Here is a post I wrote some time ago; if you're sick of Beatles minutiae, I do apologize and I am going to try my best to sail fervently through the rest of the work I'm doing for this project. At any rate, what you're seeing here is in some ways the ugliest detritus of the Beatles' recorded legacy: the LPs and tapes that littered the marketplace without the band's approval up through the uniform worldwide standardization of their catalog (mostly lining up with the original British releases) and their label Apple's reassertion of artistic control over the group's releases in the late 1980s. If bitching about bad greatest-hits sets isn't the sort of thing that intrigues you, you can skip this post; but if you're like me and get weirdly absorbed in this sort of thing, read onward.

The Beatles: A Collection of Beatles Oldies (Parlophone 1963-66/1966) [r]
Boasting kitschy "Swinging London" packaging with a touch of classed-up retro, this was the first album-length "greatest hits" package released under the Beatles' name, though it only appeared in shops in the UK where it was meant by EMI to stave off complaints about the long lapse of new Beatles material since Revolver. (This was the period when band breakup rumors were particularly fervent, thanks to both the hiatus and the discontinuation of touring.) For British fans who undoubtedly had all of the singles and albums already, it did offer a couple of important features: the first domestic release of the formerly U.S-only Larry Williams cover "Bad Boy" (originally released on Capitol's Beatles VI on the other side of the pond), which is good but incongruous when put up against a bunch of million-selling original singles; and first-time stereo mixes (prepped by George Martin) of a number of songs that had only been audible on 7" EPs and singles and were therefore strictly mono up to now. It's of course been superseded a hundred times over now, but as a semi-canon original Parlophone release (though the Beatles weren't directly involved with it), it's somewhat interesting, especially as a fairly lengthy taking-stock of the catalog at approximately the halfway point. Boasting all of the A-sides through "Eleanor Rigby"/"Yellow Submarine" save the first two (both from Please Please Me and apparently seen as such relics of a bygone time that they didn't merit inclusion) plus the (in England) LP-only Paul serenades "Michelle" and "Yesterday," the compilation hung in for a couple of decades before finally getting deleted and is obviously musically flawless.

The Beatles: Rock 'n' Roll Music (Parlophone/Capitol 1962-70/1976)
When Apple Records (temporarily) ceased as an entity in the mid-1970s and three out of four Beatles left EMI altogether, the label immediately set about pilfering the goods from the catalog sans band approval, and the four of them were all quite displeased with the kitschy cover art and track selection on this very silly double-album, which nevertheless became a huge seller and spawned a belated hit single in the form of formerly buried Revolver cut "Got to Get You into My Life." The emphasis is on fast-and-furious material, though the harder rock of the band's later years is only scantily touched on. The Capitol version is significant for featuring several George Martin remixes of early Beatles cuts, because he was displeased with the use of old twintrack stereo mixes. As he was working in the States, the tapes he used were Capitol's masters so they're not from the original tapes and thus aren't really canon mixes, but for curious listeners, they are "Twist and Shout," "I Saw Her Standing There," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Boys" and "Roll Over Beethoven"; all have channels switched and some slight rebalancing plus the usual extra Capitol reverb. The British version uses the original EMI tapes, not remixed; it's significant as the first stereo appearance in the UK of the entire Long Tall Sally EP. Content-wise, it's hard to object to loud fast Beatles, but it's an oddly uneven experience given the supposed consistency of tone, and it comes close enough to avoiding overlap with the Red and Blue albums that it's kind of annoying when it does repeat selections from those LPs. But it's not a bad listen, just a wildly unnecessary one.

The Beatles: Love Songs (Parlophone/Capitol 1962-70/1977)
The intimate double-album slow-dance variant on Rock 'n' Roll Music, this pretentiously packaged -- with a gatefold that resizes a Richard Avedon Beatles portrait in proportion with their supposed importance! -- compilation starts to take the notion of "themed" Beatles discs to an extreme. And many of the songs don't exactly fit; how exactly are "For No One" and "She's Leaving Home" love songs? There's also considerable overlap with the Red and Blue albums. But as a fairly pedestrian Beatles playlist it's perfectly enjoyable; it's not mysterious how it managed to sell three million copies in America. But today, it is wholly frivolous. (It stayed in print on cassette until well into the '90s; for whatever purpose you might imagine it holding in your personal life, I propose Let's Get It On instead.) Weird mix notes: there's a new bass-heavy, vocal-centered version of "Girl" that's never appeared anywhere else, and a mysterious "Norwegian Wood" that may just be heavily processed mono. "Yes It Is" and "This Boy" appear in fake stereo, with the extant stereo mixes still elusive at this stage; and "P.S. I Love You" is fake stereo by (in EMI's definition) necessity. Again, it's a superfluous release, but no one's going to be angry if you take it out and play it even now.

The Beatles: Rarities [UK] (Parlophone 1963-69/1978)
I've wasted a lot of mental energy trying to figure this one out, and now you can share my burden. This is an (evidently) band-approved compilation that ostensibly packages together all of the Beatles' b-sides and other non-album slash non-hit ephemera; since it was originally a supplement with the huge Beatles Collection LP boxed set, you'd think it would serve the purpose of incorporating everything not on the eleven canon albums plus Yellow Submarine, but in fact it excludes every song that made its way onto the Red and Blue albums and Capitol's American expansion of Magical Mystery Tour. This last part is always where I get stuck. I suppose it's a reasonable assumption that a fan who cared enough to get the enormous box would already have the greatest hits collections, but it still feels weird that they bothered at all with a catch-all if it was going to be as limited in scope as this is, and if MMT was going to be retroactively considered as part of the British discography, why was it left out of the set? So under the theory that you have the box and Red and Blue albums but not Tour, you're missing all the film songs plus "Baby You're a Rich Man." (You're also missing the original 7" version of "Love Me Do" with Ringo on drums, but it's unclear if that was a deliberate oversight or a question of availability since the master was lost.) Moreover, it's weird that one of the Beatles' EPs of exclusively original material (Long Tall Sally) is acknowledged and the other isn't. It's just an erratic way of handling this issue, and the sequencing ("This Boy" into "The Inner Light" into "I'll Get You") isn't very good. The quality of material is almost uniformly high ("their b-sides are better than most bands' A-sides" is a cliché and it's 100% true), though, and it's a fair bet that many British fans had never heard the charity version of "Across the Universe" or the two German songs.

The other big problem with this release is that most of the songs are mono mixes whereas the Collection box is stereo, so if you're trying to put together an complete all-analog collection of the Beatles' catalog, this record will not help you.

The Beatles: Rarities [U.S.] (Capitol 1962-70/1980)
Of all the weird things Capitol and EMI did with the Beatles' catalog in the decade after their breakup, this particular creation stands up as the weirdest and, in retrospect, most incomprehensible -- but also oddly fascinating. Inspired by the UK release of the same title (above) but geared toward American fans for whom the catalog was quite different-looking, with its standardization still seven years in the future, the record gathers all of the Beatles' masters that weren't included on any of the band's Capitol LPs. However, this actually only constitutes seven tracks if you consider the regular American studio albums from Meet the Beatles! through Hey Jude and Let It Be plus the Red and Blue albums: the single version of "Love Me Do" (heard for the first time ever in America), "The Inner Light" (in mono here, uncollected b-side), "Sie Liebt Dich" (stereo, only available prior to this on a somewhat rare Swan single), the charity version of "Across the Universe" (stereo, also previously unissued altogether in the U.S.), "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" (uncollected b-side), "Misery" and "There's a Place." Those last two will seem like especially bizarre inclusions to a modern fan raised on the canon albums, and even most American fans would've known them well from the brisk-selling non-Capitol album Introducing the Beatles as well as a quickly withdrawn budget-line single from Capitol a few years later, but because the label left them off the semi-Introducing repackage The Early Beatles, this is their only appearance on a Capitol LP. It's very surreal to think of a masterpiece like "There's a Place" relegated to obscurity status, but contemporary reviews of the record took note of the two Please Please Me chestnuts as the best reason to buy it.

So how did Capitol fill out the rest of the record? With a woefully incomplete selection of mixing oddities, none of them very well-chosen; given that genuinely interesting divergences like the Matrix I version of "Tomorrow Never Knows, "All My Loving" with the hi-hat intro and "I'll Cry Instead" with a whole extra verse (the mono LPs were out of print by this stage) existed, it's peculiar that something as pointless as "And I Love Her" with an artificially extended guitar outro or a variation on "I Am the Walrus" (incorporating the extra instrumental passage before the "yellow matter custard" verse as on the American single but also extending the intro to match the canonical stereo mix) that the compilers made themselves for this release make the cut. It's also rather weird to feature certain masters just because they're mono, though admittedly this made more sense before the catalog was universally righted, as Americans really wouldn't have heard these versions of "I'm Only Sleeping," "Help!" (with John's variant lead vocal) or the three White Album songs before (because, respectively, Capitol used a different mix entirely, Capitol used a fold-down of the stereo mix, and Capitol did not issue a mono White Album), but if you're opening the can of worms to incorporate stereo-mono variations, it's strange to just go with a few random selections like this. One inclusion that is quite helpful is the promo version of "Penny Lane," here in stereo, with the extended trumpet ending, which I've always treasured ever since first hearing it on this album; and there's something enjoyably perverse about closing us out with the Inner Groove from Sgt. Pepper (not included on original American issues of that album)... but repeated just once, a two-second bite of random noise that's over as soon as it begins. The whole release is a strange, redundant listen now, but I've got a soft spot for it as one of my first windows into true Beatles minutiae (very weird that it was promoted and sold as a mainstream release when its whole parlance is very slight variants on familiar material), plus it's quite handsomely packaged and even includes a full-sized reproduction of the Butcher photo.

[Additional note: Capitol prepped slightly rebalanced remixes of the two Please Please Me tracks for this compilation, somewhat in the vein of the minor tweaking that was done on The Early Beatles for the other twintrack recordings. Neither is significant enough to seek out but if you're a completist it does sweeten the album's appeal a bit.]

The Beatles: The Beatles Ballads (Parlophone 1963-70/1980) [c]
Twenty tracks, many in their third or fourth appearance on these '70s-'80s Beatles compilations, and a particularly large overlap with Love Songs. I've never heard a copy but would assume it sounds terrible, with a running time of 59 minutes on one 12" record. Only significant insofar as it uses John Byrne's proposed cover art for the White Album when it was traveling under the speculative title A Doll's House. And on a grim note, this was the last Beatles album released during John Lennon's lifetime. It was not released at all in the U.S. and was oddly ubiquitous for some time in Australia.

The Beatles: Reel Music (Parlophone/Capitol 1964-70/1982) [c]
Probably the most cynical Beatles repackage of all, this 42-minute slapdash collection of the most famous songs from the band's five film soundtracks was designed to promote a theatrical reissue of A Hard Day's Night and resembles the sort of indignity to which Elvis Presley's music had long been subjected. All but one of the songs were previously collected on the Red and Blue albums so even the most casual fan would've had them already (the sole exception being "I Should Have Known Better," which is still far from obscure), and things like "All You Need Is Love" and "Get Back" were appearing on their fourth Beatles LPs. While the music's mostly great, the selections are deeply uninspired and obvious, and the sequencing that follows "Ticket to Ride" with "Magical Mystery Tour" at the end of Side One and such underlines just how arbitrary the endeavor is. (Perhaps noteworthy that the two songs chosen to represent Yellow Submarine are the two on that soundtrack LP that were recycled from earlier in the band's career; none of the four original contributions were good enough for Reel Music!) The only saving graces here are for hardcore collectors: there's a nice color booklet illustrated by lots of stills and lobby cards that competently runs down the Beatles' cinematic history. (Includes a large photo of Ringo, pants fallen, tied to Foot's machine in Help! that undoubtedly created a few scattered fetishists of some sort out in the world.) And the American version of the record uses a rare, otherwise unavailable remix of "I Should Have Known Better" that artificially repairs the harmonica gaffe in the song's canonical stereo mix; but really, when it comes down to it, who cares? Luckily, this was the last of the "themed" compilations.

The Beatles: 20 Greatest Hits (Parlophone/Capitol 1962-70/1982) [r]
The first single-disc Beatles best-of to span their entire career, this is a pleasant collection of their juggernaut singles, though it illustrates the problem of using charts to determine a track listing, and it's been totally forgotten and superseded in the wake of 2000's Beatles 1 CD... though I would argue it's actually a better-looking package than the later release. The British version features all their official UK number-one hits plus "Love Me Do," while the American version starts off with a bang with "She Loves You" and boasts a little more sonic variety thanks to ballads like "Yesterday" and the masterpiece "Penny Lane," which only got to #2 in England. 1 would effectively combine the two versions of the release and obviously gives a more complete picture, plus it isn't forced to use a cut-down five-minute "Hey Jude" like the American vinyl release of this. At any rate, being a non-Beatle-approved creation, it's only especially noteworthy as the answer to some trivia question about why those promo ads for 1 got it wrong when they said there'd never been a one-disc Beatles greatest hits collection before!

Friday, October 9, 2020

The Beatles: 1962-1966 / 1967-1970

(Apple 1973)


No sooner had Allen Klein gained his enviable position as the Beatles' business manager than the band began to disintegrate, in large part because of Paul McCartney's disapproval of his involvement. Upon their official breakup in 1970, Klein was left in control of a dizzying asset -- maybe the most valuable catalog in rock music -- but little opportunity to exploit it, with the former Beatles and Apple's inclination being to concentrate on their respective solo careers. At some point in late 1972, a bootleg compilation of Beatles music called Alpha Omega miraculously managed to take up advertising real estate on TV and radio; it was propagated in flagrant violation of copyright law by the dubiously named label "Audiotape Inc." and was comprised of four records of seemingly randomly selected Beatles and related songs, ranging from "Act Naturally" to "Penny Lane" to "Maybe I'm Amazed," all in something akin to alphabetical order. After filing the obvious lawsuit, Apple evidently saw that the wild success of the $14 package indicated a market already in place for a career-spanning Beatles compilation.

Thus was born the so-called "Red" and "Blue" albums, sold separately with two LPs each, a greatest hits collection of sorts that attempts to weave the complex narrative of the Beatles' seven-plus years in the international spotlight via their singles and other key tracks, assembled in chronological order within a pair of handsome, color-coded packages, complete with lyrics on the inner sleeves. The Beatles' own contributions were limited; George Harrison is said to have had some hand in choosing songs, which is surprising, and John offered up the notion of harnessing the unused Get Back cover photo to provide young Beatles-slightly less young Beatles contrast on the front and back covers. Apart from the ludicrous font on the band's name and album titles, it's all aged very well aesthetically.

As a compilation, the sets certainly serve their purpose; they're a wonderful introduction to the group, and there's no sense equivocating that, and they remain reasonably fun to listen to even for seasoned fans, though both have rather considerable (and annoyingly avoidable) problems that will be apparent to anyone who's a serious follower of the group, as they probably were to everyone who lived through the Beatles' era and had stayed awake through all of it. But hand this much to Klein: this is a notoriously difficult band to "compile," despite the fact that nearly all of their singles were massively successful and the exclusion of many of their hits from LPs would seem to make for a really ideal starting point for an exquisite best-of. Heard today, the subsequent attempts at giving the Beatles the single-disc summary treatment -- 20 Greatest Hits (1982) and Beatles 1 (2000) -- both seem facile, the band's eccentricities sanded down into convenience. It takes a set nearly three times as long to come anywhere close to delivering the goods, and even then you're left contemplating all that's missing.

Adding signature album tracks and a few b-sides to the rundown of the Beatles' singles is, all that said, a noble enough idea. Beatles songs that were buried on LPs in the '60s are as famous as other bands' biggest hits, plus the freewheeling style of the compilation gets around the U.S.-UK divide by incorporating many of the songs that Capitol released as singles sans band approval, like "Nowhere Man," "Eight Days a Week," "Yesterday" and "The Long and Winding Road." It's a solid narrative, and it's also significant as the only time that Apple has succeeded in putting all 26 of the Beatles' official A-sides in one place, which is something that needed to happen in a more concise manner for decades (in mono, which this isn't) and now probably never will, 7" boxed sets aside.

I can certainly attest myself to how formative these two albums can be; I have fond memories of my brother's copy of the Red album that otherwise predate my interest in the Beatles. When I got the pair for Christmas roundabout first grade, it felt like an absolute bounty; I loved studying the songwriting credits and the lyrics, and of course hearing all of these great songs, many of them familiar to me and some of them not; my favorite part was the third and fourth sides of the Red album, unsurprising since Rubber Soul would eventually be one of my favorite albums of all time.

But this brings us to what makes the set rather unbalanced and odd, and I don't know that there exists a satisfactory explanation for what happened here. Just to start with the Red album and its most obvious problem, Rubber Soul is almost comically overrepresented; nearly half of the British version of the LP is included, and while all of the selections are infallible (yeah, even "Michelle," I'm fully grown up now), it marks the first point at which the collection feels vaguely indulgent. I have no objections to screeching the parade of hits to a halt so we can hear John Lennon's psychodramas from his peak year as a composer play out in some of the most sophisticated songs he ever wrote ("In My Life," "Girl," "Norwegian Wood"), but you're left wondering why the rest of the Beatles' albums are almost fully ignored. If you disregard songs that were hits outside the UK, the "deep cuts" included on the Red album are "All My Loving" (a standard, thus an obvious choice) from With the Beatles, "And I Love Her" (ditto, and a ballad to smartly change the pace) from A Hard Day's Night, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" (iconic, makes sense) from Help!, and nothing (hits aside) from Please Please Me, Beatles for Sale, or -- and here's where it gets a little egregious -- Revolver. The only two songs from Revolver we get are both sides of the attendant single, "Eleanor Rigby" c/w "Yellow Submarine," which is, given the logical precedent set just beforehand, appalling.

John is my favorite Beatle and this portion of this compilation may have had a hand in that, but it's not difficult to make out that there's some sort of grudge-holding in place here when, apart from "Eleanor Rigby," none of Paul's signature, startling accomplishments from Revolver -- an album as culturally vital, if not as good, as Rubber Soul -- make their way onto this record, which they would certainly improve. And there's definitely time. (The Red album's other great flaw is that it's very, very short; the total runtime is just over an hour, so long enough to require two LPs but short enough to easily fit on CD, but the tracklist and double-disc division was left intact when the album moved to that format. There was talk of preserving the integrity of the original release, which seems daft for a cash-in greatest hits set.)

Things get a little hairier on the Blue album, which makes a better case that the last few years of the '60s found the band in decline than Greil Marcus ever could; comparing the two releases, there's no question which one has stronger material, and it really seems that this impression could be avoided with a few better choices here and there. It starts with the biggest bang possible, the band's absolute peak: "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane," as infallible a moment of impassioned high art as the body of pop music contains. George Martin used to grumble about regretting that those two songs were excluded from Sgt. Pepper, but like their positioning on Capitol's Magical Mystery Tour LP, their inclusion here immediately followed by four selections from Pepper really emphasizes how comparatievly facile that material is, not that it isn't fun or -- in the proper context -- engaging. "A Day in the Life" obviously comes closest but even it is clearly a step down from the single in terms of profundity and beauty, plus it sounds very strange when couched between "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and the inevitable "All You Need Is Love."

Mystery Tour itself is overrepresented; neither the gimmicky title track nor the perfectly fine "The Fool on the Hill" really belong on a best-of, though the compilers are correct to feature "I Am the Walrus." That's one of a rather surprising number of b-sides that make the cut here, although this one, "Revolution" and especially "Don't Let Me Down" are difficult to dispute, all serving to emphasize how frequently Lennon's songs were relegated to the flip in these years. "Old Brown Shoe" feels a little more dubious; to be perfectly honest, it had been so long since I played this record that I was genuinely surprised when it and "The Fool on the Hill" cued up -- they really really feel like oddball choices. (Note also that Klein renders his own American compilation Hey Jude, a mere three years old at this point, almost completely superfluous; only "Rain" and "I Should Have Known Better" fail to appear on either Red or Blue.)

I don't quite know what the right way is to quickly summarize an album as deftly paced and cacophonous with ideas as the White Album, but what I do know is that the three-song token gesture of "Back in the U.S.S.R."-"While My Guitar Gently Weeps"-"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is probably the worst conceivable way to go. Side Four basically constructs itself with the last couple of singles, the last U.S.-only hit ("The Long and Winding Road"), a wisely measured "Here Comes the Sun" and the somewhat bewildering "Octopus's Garden" and "Across the Universe" continuing the broad strangeness of these two sets right up to the end. But these criticisms are, of course, based on a level of knowledge that the target audience of Beatle novices won't have, and even the most offbeat selection here is possessed of a rather innate appeal that has survived the years well, the genuinely touching "Octopus's Garden" included. As a sort of four-disc Tower of Song, this whole enterprise says a great deal about the Beatles' achievement; with no covers whatsoever, it can be heard as a sort of celebration of the band's purity of songcraft. Except for "From Me to You," "Hello, Goodbye" and "All You Need Is Love," no song on either set is less than very good, and there was no getting around those. The records' utility is more dubious for longtime fans, but many will likely retain a certain nostalgia for them, and they remain a good way to run through all of the popular hits with a few enjoyable sidelines. It's the best "greatest hits" compilation of the Beatles we've got, and the best we're ever likely to get. But... you know... I'm sure you don't need to be told this, but get the fucking albums for chrissake.


Mix variations across the Beatles' catalog in the '60s are a wildly confusing topic that it took decades for fans to really get a handle on, and for many, it's all rather arcane and pointless, but in case you do care: American and British versions of these albums were constructed from each country's own extant masters. Then, when the albums were remastered for their 1993 CD release, the mixes were normalized with a few (allegedly) new mixes and edits made. Alterations were made again in 2014 for a further CD remaster (these are the versions on the streaming sites), and finally for an analog vinyl reissue in 2015. The following is a rundown of each of these major releases of these two titles. Don't ask me about cassettes and stuff, I have no idea.

U.S. 1973 vinyl Red Album: Uses the Capitol album mixes of everything, which means that "Love Me Do" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" are duophonic or "fake stereo"; "Please Please Me" and "All My Loving" are Dave Dexter-enhanced stereo mixes from The Early Beatles and Meet the Beatles! respectively; "We Can Work It Out" and "Day Tripper" are the dedicated mixes George Martin made for the U.S. Yesterday and Today album; and "Paperback Writer" is the slightly different stereo mix used on Hey Jude. (This last one is disputed in some quarters.) "Help!" is the canonical stereo mix but someone neglected to lop off the pseudo-James Bond intro from the LP. This was the first U.S. LP release of "From Me to You" besides an obscure Vee Jay album so it uses the UK mix, only with channels inexplicably reversed. Finally, "I Feel Fine" appears in its reverb-drenched American mono single mix, with the stereo one being so muddy even Capitol didn't want to dredge it back up. Canon mixes otherwise.

U.S. 1973 vinyl Blue Album: All canon mixes except "I Am the Walrus" is the odd Capitol-only version with the shorter intro and "Strawberry Fields Forever" is the U.S.-exclusive alternate stereo mix. A new fake stereo mix of "Penny Lane" was made for this compilation, for some reason; and "A Day in the Life" cuts in sharply since it's a segue on Pepper, although the edit comes at a different spot than on the UK release.

UK 1973 vinyl Red Album: All the canon mixes are used except the fake stereo Please Please Me version of "Love Me Do," the fake stereo A Collection of Beatles Oldies version of "She Loves You," a unique version of "I Feel Fine" with whispering sounds at the beginning, and the U.S. stereo mix of "Day Tripper."

UK 1973 vinyl Blue Album: All canon mixes except the U.S. stereo "Strawberry Fields Forever" and a smash cut to the opening of "A Day in the Life" since it segues on the original album.

1993 CD of Red Album: When A Hard Day's Night and Beatles for Sale were first issued as compact discs in 1987, they were both available exclusively in mono; this evidently was partially based on the misapprehension that they were twintrack recordings, although George Martin is on record as wishing to release the entire catalog only in mono. As a result, the songs from those albums that were included on the Red album were issued on CD in stereo for the first time on this compilation, but they were newly remixed (or at least rebalanced). The affected songs are "All My Loving," "Can't Buy Me Love," "A Hard Day's Night," "And I Love Her," "Eight Days a Week." Some sound identical; some have the vocals centered and employ other minor tweaks. They are not widely considered major mix variations, but they do not appear anywhere else in the band's discography, so some completists may want to hold onto this disc. As is routine for all of Apple's reissues of the catalog, the songs from Help! and Rubber Soul appear in George Martin's 1987 remixed versions; you can read about those on our remixes page.

1993 CD of Blue Album: Finally something simple -- all canon mixes except an upgrade: "A Day in the Life" with its beautiful clean acoustic guitar intro, freed from the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" fadeout and applause. This was first presented on the Imagine: John Lennon soundtrack in 1988.

2014 CD of Red Album: Reverts to the standard stereo versions of the songs except the Help! and Rubber Soul tracks which, as on the '93 disc, are George Martin's 1987 remixes; also, the first four tracks are all in mono, with "Love Me Do" presented in its LP rather than single version. (No version of the Red Album uses the correct 7" recording with Ringo on drums.)

2014 CD of Blue Album: Identical (in mix, not mastering terms) to the 1993 disc.

2015 remastered vinyl of Red Album: Sean Magee put together all-analog versions of these two albums for rerelase after the acclaim for his work on the stunning boxed set of the mono LPs. This uses the original British album master but makes two key tweaks on the first side, switching in the mono LP version of "Love Me Do" and the mono single of "She Loves You" in lieu of their fake stereo variants.

2015 remastered vinyl of Blue Album: Same as the original UK vinyl, using the same master.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

10th annual List of Lists

I'm alive! And I'm back eight months late with the feature that used to take me a week or two. However, regular posts should be somewhat less sporadic starting now, although still not on the regular timetable with which this blog established its sterling reputation. I have painstakingly crafted new song lists and playlists for two further archival years, 1959 and 1979; have restructured my 2010s decade lists to incorporate material from 2019; and have rebelled against the facts of quarantine life with quick thoughts on the best live shows I have seen.

Obviously I'm missing live shows a lot right now. Where available I linked my attendant blog post; otherwise I said a few words.

1. Yo La Tengo: I've seen them a total of eleven times, counting their experimental soundtrack to a documentary about Buckminster Fuller late last year. It's almost always a transcendent, mind-melting experience, but especially in smaller venues, and particularly my first time seeing them at the Orange Peel in Asheville in 2003, and on a triad of two-night stands at Cat's Cradle (where a large proportion of my favorite live experiences have taken place) in 2007, 2011 and 2018. I love the two-night gigs because you can really feel them settling in, and committing to giving off a different experience at each of the gigs. I can't describe how rewarding it's always been to go back and see them again and I will miss it terribly whenever it (permanently) stops being feasible. But maybe that'll never happen. As long as they're playing I will keep seeing them. I still hold out hope for seeing Condo Fucks and/or a Freewheelin' Yo La Tengo show or maybe even Hanukkah when the pandemic's over and the world is new again.

Unfortunately I only wrote a tiny bit about the first time I saw YLT in 2003, though it's one paragprah that captures my memory of the experience quite well: "The entire thing was made for me by the second song, 'My Heart’s Reflection.' I'd fallen in love with it just a month or so before the show, and then when they played 'Blue Line Swinger' my cool cool facade almost broke entirely. A wonderful set and we will surely see them again." I was nineteen then, which I find unspeakably alarming. But here are my longer posts about seeing them in 2007 (note me obliviously complaining about Mac McCaughan's "hangers-on"), 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018 and (briefly) 2019.

2. The Tallest Man on Earth: Still maybe the most breathtaking single show I've seen, back in 2010 at tiny Gerrard Hall on the UNC campus in 2010, days after he got the then-important "Best New Music" boost from Pitchfork; we'd only paid $5 each for our tickets. Not feeling very verbal at the time of the show (and still suffering from chronic, uncontrolled migraines, including that night), I only said a few words at the time; Amber said a lot more -- with photos that, PhotoBucket bug notwithstanding, give you a good idea of how intimate the show was, at this link.

3. Tune-Yards: At Merrill Garbus' peak in the early part of the last decade it really felt like she was stretching the boundaries of what rock music could be like no one else in recent memory, and I am glad I got to witness this twice with my own eyes; I wrote extensively about her Cat's Cradle gigs that I saw in 2011 (a couple of days after my dad died, so I was very much in need of a life-affirming experience) and again three years later.

4. Joanna Newsom: Durham, NC on March 25th, 2010. One of my favorite people in the world, as you know if you're a regular reader. My records indicate I posted about this somewhere at this blog but I can't figure out where; anyway it was wonderful, she was talkative and it was gorgeous and she played "Baby Birch." An Unforgettable Night.

5. The Walkmen: An actual headlining show by what may have been my favorite active guitar band at the time, at the Cradle in January 2011; I feel lucky to have seen everything listed here (and many things that aren't, like R.E.M. in October 2003 on a night when they were rejoined in the encore by Bill Berry) but this in particular, as they so rarely came our way without opening for some lesser band or another, and I lost an opportunity to see them quite early in their career in '04. Wrote about it here

6. The Mountain Goats: Amber's seen the Goats, her favorites, six times, five with me in tow. I famously heard "No Children" in 2007 and found it absolutely befuddling, and within five years was belting it out joyously in various rooms full of misfits. I wrote about my first time, at Cat's Cradle in 2011, here; my second show of theirs was on an almost unbearably emotional night in an acoustic duo arrangement at the Soapbox in Wilmington, as recounted here. And then we managed three consecutive Decembers: Carolina Theatre 2017, Haw River Ballroom 2018, Haw River Ballroom 2019 (just briefly noted here).

7. Ezra Furman: At Durham's wonderful Pinhook in 2016, we saw balls-out rock & roll from one of its key modern progenitors; it was one of the most sparsely attended shows I've ever seen, but we were given no less ecstatic a performance from Furman and his magnificent band the Boyfriends. Marks the only time we've ever snagged a setlist. More here (this shares an entry with the Charleston YLT show).

8. Cut Copy: A long-running bucket list band ever since I saw some of their live performances online around 2011 or so. The show happened at one of our favorite venues, a converted railway station called the Music Farm in Charleston. Wrote about it here (overlap with one of the Mountain Goats shows).

9. The Soul Brothers/Who's Bad?: From the days when I hung out a lot at a local venue where I later worked as a DJ. Who's Bad was a very competent Michael Jackson tribute band, but the Soul Brothers were an incredible soul revival band who were genuinely terrific live. Here's a ridiculously long post about this night; as you will quickly glean, this occurred at... a very, very different juncture in my life than most of these others.

10. The New Pornographers: 2010, with the full Bejar/Case-inclusive lineup in tow and an absolute dream setlist. Addressed briefly here; I didn't write much about this and I had a horrible headache the entire night but I remember it with great fondness.

11. Sheer Mag: Back to my old ways of having trouble waxing at length about things that aren't movies -- everything feels too singular, too private, too personal these days, even gigs -- I still talked a little about the show here and it's one of the best rock shows I've seen.

12. Kate Tempest: Farthest we've ever driven for a show (and oddly, one of only two I've been to outside the Carolinas, the other being Interpol in Brisbane, Australia in 2008!) because we figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Tempest actually came to NC when touring for Everybody Down but we missed it because we were in the middle of relocating. It was a wackadoodle thing to do and one of my favorite things that's happened in the last few years. More about it here.

Eternal gratitude and love to my girlfriend, wife and lifelong concert buddy Amber (who also took this post's header photo).

The second of what will eventually be three passes at this, this one using the list I posted here last summer and adding my favorite records of 2019. The songs list, below, is structured in much the same way.

1. D'Angelo & the Vanguard: Black Messiah (RCA 2014)
2. Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me (Drag City 2010)
3. Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d. city (Interscope 2012)
4. Saint Etienne: Words and Music by Saint Etienne (Heavenly 2012)
5. Tune-Yards: w h o k i l l (4AD 2011)
6. Joanna Newsom: Divers (Drag City 2015)
7. Kanye West: Yeezus (Def Jam 2013)
8. SOPHIE: Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides (Future Classic 2018)
9. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam 2010)
10. Love Is All: Two Thousand and Ten Injuries (Polyvinyl 2010)
11. Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City (XL 2013)
12. The Wave Pictures: City Forgiveness (Moshi Moshi 2013)
13. Janelle Monáe: The ArchAndroid (Bad Boy 2010)
14. Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Epic 2012)
15. Kate Tempest: Everybody Down (Big Dada 2014)
16. Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas (Columbia 2012)
17. Nicolas Jaar: Sirens (Other People 2016)
18. Danny Brown: Atrocity Exhibition (Warp 2016)
19. The Walkmen: Lisbon (Fat Possum 2010)
20. Das Racist: Relax (Greedhead 2011)
21. The National: High Violet (4AD 2010)
22. Titus Andronicus: The Monitor (XL 2010)
23. The Wave Pictures: Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon (Moshi Moshi 2015)
24. Ezra Furman: Perpetual Motion People (Bella Union 2015)
25. Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop 2015)
26. Kate Tempest: Let Them Eat Chaos (Fiction 2016)
27. Anthony Joseph: Caribbean Roots (Heavenly Sweetness 2016)
28. David Bowie: Blackstar (Columbia 2016)
29. Shabazz Palaces: Black Up (Sub Pop 2011)
30. Hot Chip: One Life Stand (astralwerks 2010)
31. Janelle Monáe: Dirty Computer (Bad Boy 2018)
32. The New Pornographers: Brill Bruisers (Matador 2014)
33. Atlas Sound: Parallax (4AD 2011)
34. Cut Copy: Zonoscope (Modular 2011)
35. Lady Lamb: After (Mom + Pop 2015)
36. Charly Bliss: Young Enough (Barsuk 2019)
37. Twin Shadow: Confess (4AD 2012)
38. Janelle Monáe: The Electric Lady (Bad Boy 2013)
39. Yoko Ono: Take Me to the Land of Hell (Chimera 2013)
40. Beyoncé (Columbia 2013)
41. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Jama Ko (Out Here 2013)
42. Big Thief: U.F.O.F. (4AD 2019)
43. David Bowie: The Next Day (Columbia 2013)
44. Tune-Yards: Nikki Nack (4AD 2014)
45. The Tallest Man on Earth: The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans 2010)
46. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge 2010)
47. Beach House: Bloom (Sub Pop 2012)
48. Pet Shop Boys: Electric (x2 2013)
49. Vampire Weekend: Contra (XL 2010)
50. Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD 2010)

I only reconfigured the top portion of this, to preserve some semblance of my sanity; you can probably extraopolate the rest with the ample tools I have given you!!

1. Joanna Newsom "Good Intentions Paving Company" [Have One on Me, 2010]
2. Titus Andronicus "The Battle of Hampton Roads" [The Monitor, 2010]
3. Miguel "Adorn" [Kaleidoscope Dream, 2012]
4. Joanna Newsom "Baby Birch" [Have One on Me, 2010]
5. The Tallest Man on Earth "Love Is All" [The Wild Hunt, 2010]
6. Leonard Cohen "Going Home" [Old Ideas, 2012] / Marianne Faithfull "Going Home" [Give My Love to London, 2014]
7. The Wave Pictures "Slick Black River from the Rain" [A Season in Hull, 2016]
8. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever "Tender Is the Neck" [Talk Tight, 2017]
9. Love Is All "A Side in a Bed" [Two Thousand and Ten Injuries, 2010]
10. Allo Darlin' "History Lessons" [We Come from the Same Place, 2014]
11. The Walkmen "Juveniles" [Lisbon, 2010]
12. Courtney Barnett "Depreston" [Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, 2015]
13. Big Thief "Cattails" [U.F.O.F., 2019]
14. Nicolas Jaar "The Governor" [Sirens, 2016]
15. Robyn "Dancing on My Own" [Body Talk, 2010]
16. Spiritualized "Hey Jane" [Sweet Heart Sweet Light, 2012]
17. Kanye West ft. Rihanna "All of the Lights" [My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, 2010]
18. The Wave Pictures "We Fell Asleep in the Blue Tent" [Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon, 2015]
19. Anthony Joseph "Neckbone" [Caribbean Roots, 2016]
20. Perfume Genius "Hood" [Put Your Back In 2 It, 2012]
21. Twin Shadow "Run My Heart" [Confess, 2012]
22. Tune-Yards "Wait for a Minute" [Nikki Nack, 2014]
23. Frank Ocean "Lost" [Channel Orange, 2012]
24. Suckers "Bricks to the Bones" [Candy Salad, 2012]
25. The National "This Is the Last Time" [Trouble Will Find Me, 2013]
26. Owen Pallett "The Great Elsewhere" [Heartland, 2010]
27. Tune-Yards "Powa" [whokill, 2011]
28. Saint Etienne "Tonight" [Words and Music by Saint Etienne, 2012]
29. Leonard Cohen "Amen" [Old Ideas, 2012]
30. Big Thief "Orange" [U.F.O.F., 2019]
31. The National "Bloodbuzz, Ohio" [High Violet, 2010]
32. D'Angelo "Really Love" [Black Messiah, 2014]
33. N.E.R.D. ft. Rihanna "Lemon" [No One Ever Really Dies, 2017]
34. TV on the Radio "You" [Nine Types of Light, 2011]
35. Kelis "Breakfast" [Food, 2014]
36. Janelle Monae & the Wondaland Arts Society "Hell You Talmbout" [single, 2015] / David Byrne "Hell You Talmbout" [live, 2018]
37. Tune-Yards "Doorstep" [whokill, 2011]
38. Fiona Apple "Anything We Want" [The Idler Wheel..., 2012]
39. Superchunk "This Summer" [single, 2012]
40. Twerps "I Don't Mind" [Range Anxiety, 2015]
41. Susanne Sundfor "Fade Away" [Ten Love Songs, 2015]
42. The New Pornographers "Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk" [Together, 2010]
43. Rihanna "Love on the Brain" [ANTI, 2016]
44. Hot Chip "Alley Cats" [One Life Stand, 2010]
45. Ibibio Sound Machine "I Know That You're Thinking About Me" [Doko Mien, 2019]
46. Joanna Newsom "The Things I Say" [Divers, 2015]
47. (Sandy) Alex G "Bobby" [Rocket, 2017]
48. Janelle Monae "Make Me Feel" [Dirty Computer, 2018]
49. Arcade Fire "Sprawl #2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" [The Suburbs, 2010]
50. Chromatics "Kill for Love" [Kill for Love, 2012]
51. Surfer Blood "Anchorage" [Astro Coast, 2010]
52. The Chemical Brothers ft. Beck "Wide Open" [Born in the Echoes, 2015]
53. Charli XCX ft. MØ "Porsche" [Pop 2, 2018]
54. Courtney Barnett "Sunday Roast" [Tell Me How You Really Feel, 2018]
55. Das Racist "Michael Jackson" [Relax, 2011]
56. Girls "Oh So Protective One" [Broken Dreams Club, 2010]
57. Joanna Newsom "Divers" [Divers, 2015]
58. Hot Chip "Take It In" [One Life Stand / We Have Remixes, 2010]
59. Saint Etienne "Over the Border" [Words and Music by Saint Etienne, 2012]
60. Beach House "Norway" [Teen Dream, 2010]
61. Ray BLK "Run Run" [Empress, 2019]
62. Vampire Weekend "Unbelievers" [Modern Vampires of the City, 2013]
63. Kendrick Lamar "untitled 08" [untitled unmastered., 2016]
64. Leonard Cohen "Show Me the Place" [Old Ideas, 2012]
65. Cut Copy "Take Me Over" [Zonoscope, 2011]
66. Black Marble "A Great Design" [A Different Arrangement, 2012]
67. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down "Millionaire" [A Man Alive, 2016]
68. The Mountain Goats "Damn These Vampires" [All Eternals Deck, 2011]
69. Camp Cope "I've Got You" [How to Socialise & Make Friends, 2018]
70. Yoko Ono "7th Floor" [Take Me to the Land of Hell, 2013]
71. Passion Pit "Take a Walk" [Gossamer, 2012]
72. A Tribe Called Quest "We the People" [We Got It from Here, Thank You 4 Your Service, 2016]
73. Yo La Tengo "Ohm" [Fade, 2013]
74. Nicolas Jaar "Three Sides of Nazareth" [Sirens, 2016]
75. Beyonce "Love on Top" [4, 2012]
76. Rhye "The Fall" [Woman, 2013]
77. Colette "When the Music's Loud" [When the Music's Loud, 2013]
78. Titus Andronicus "To Old Friends and New" [The Monitor, 2010]
79. Royal Headache "Carolina" [High, 2015]
80. Chastity Belt "Drone" [Time to Go Home, 2015]
81. Shannon and the Clams "The Boy" [Onion, 2018]
82. Allo Darlin' "Half Heart Necklace" [We Come from the Same Place, 2014]
83. Eleanor Friedberger "He Didn't Mention His Mother" [New View, 2016]
84. Slowdive "No Longer Making Time" [Slowdive, 2017]
85. Big Thief "Not" [Two Hands, 2019]
86. The Walkmen "Lisbon" [Lisbon, 2010]
87. Fiona Apple "Hot Knife" [The Idler Wheel..., 2012]
88. Titus Andronicus "Theme from Cheers" [The Monitor, 2010]
89. Kanye West "Black Skinhead" [Yeezus, 2013]
90. Tierra Whack "Cable Guy" [Whack World, 2018]
91. Deerhunter "Desire Lines" [Halcyon Digest, 2010]
92. The Tallest Man on Earth "Graceland" {Paul Simon cover} [b-side, 2010]
93. Charly Bliss "Young Enough" [Young Enough]
94. Sheer Mag "Nobody's Baby" [III, 2016]
95. Lady Lamb "Penny Licks" [After, 2015]
96. Curren$y "Breakfast" [Pilot Talk, 2010]
97. Ezra Furman "Love You So Bad" [Transangelic Exodus, 2018]
98. Underworld "Nylon Strung" [Barbara Barbara We Face a Shining Futyre, 2016]
99. Kaki King "Sloan Shore" [Junior, 2010]
100. Disclosure ft. London Grammar "Help Me Lose My Mind" [Settle, 2013]
101. The Wave Pictures "Before This Day" [City Forgiveness, 2013]
102. Kelela "All the Way Down" [Hallucinogen, 2015]
103. D'Angelo "Another Life" [Black Messiah, 2014]
104. Chromatics "On the Wall" [Closer to Grey, 2019]
105. Rolling Blackouts C.F. "Read My Mind" [non-LP single, 2019]
106. Tierra Whack "Pet Cemetery" [Whack World, 2018]
107. TV on the Radio "Killer Crane" [Nine Types of Light, 2011]
108. The National "I Need My Girl" [Trouble Will Find Me, 2013]
109. The Wave Pictures "Hazey Moon" [Look Inside Your Heart, 2018]
110. Cat Power "Manhattan" [Sun, 2012]
111. Vince Staples "Big Fish" [Big Fish Theory, 2017]
112. Courtney Barnett "Houses" {Elyse Weinberg cover} [single, 2018]
113. Flock of Dimes "Birthplace" [If You See Me, Say Yes, 2016]
114. Rolling Blackouts C.F. "In the Capital" [non-LP single, 2019]
115. Khalid "8TEEN" [American Teen, 2017]
116. Charly Bliss "Blown to Bits" [Young Enough, 2019]
117. Vampire Weekend "Diplomat's Son" [Contra, 2010]
118. The Julie Ruin "Just My Kind" [Run Fast, 2013]
119. Shura "Touch" [Nothing's Real, 2016]
120. Belle & Sebastian "The Ghost of Rockschool" [Write About Love, 2010]
121. Danny Brown "Really Doe" [Atrocity Exhibition, 2016]
122. Loyle Carner "Loose Ends" [Not Waving, But Drowning]
123. Twin Shadow "When the Movie's Over" [Confess, 2012]
124. Beach House "Bluebird" [Depression Cherry, 2015]
125. Kanye West "Bound 2" [Yeezus, 2013]
126. Horse Feathers "Fit Against the Country" [Cynic's New Year, 2012]
127. Nadine Shah "2016" [Holiday Destination, 2017]
128. Yo La Tengo "Butchie's Tune" {Lovin' Spoonful cover} [Stuff Like That There, 2015]
129. The Wave Pictures "Atlanta" [City Forgiveness, 2013]
130. Vince Staples "Yeah Right" [Big Fish Theory, 2017]
131. The Julie Ruin "Run Fast" [Run Fast, 2013]
132. PAPA "Ain't It So" [A Good Woman Is Hard to Find, 2011]
133. Jay Som "The Bus Song" [Everybody Works, 2017]
134. Vampire Weekend "Diane Young" [Modern Vampires of the City, 2013]
135. Beirut "We Never Lived Here" [Gallipoli]
136. Azealia Banks "212" [single, 2011 / Broke with Expensive Taste, 2014]
137. Vampire Weekend "Run" [Contra, 2010]
138. Beyonce "Party" [4, 2012]
139. The Wave Pictures "Remains" [A Season in Hull, 2016]
140. Leonard Cohen "You Want It Darker" [You Want It Darker, 2016]
141. Cut Copy "Need You Now" [Zonoscope, 2011]
142. Tirzah "Holding On" [Devotion, 2018]
143. Arcade Fire "Half Light 2 (No Celebration)" [The Suburbs, 2010]
144. The Walkmen "Blue as Your Blood" [Lisbon, 2010]
145. Kate Tempest "Tunnel Vision" [Let Them Eat Chaos, 2016]
146. Twin Shadow ft. D'Angelo Lacy "Old Love/New Love" [Eclipse, 2015]
147. Tirzah "Devotion" [Devotion, 2018]
148. Love Is All "Early Warnings" [Two Thousand and Ten Injuries, 2010]
149. Titus Andronicus "Crass Tattoo" [A Productive Cough, 2018]
150. LCD Soundsystem "I Can Change" [This Is Happening, 2010] / Ezra Furman "I Can Change" [Songs by Others, 2016]

1959 SONGS
Brand new list that took weeks. Given that this was past the peak of first-wave rock & roll, there are a shocking number of classics here, even if the center kind of collapses in favor of subgenres like swamp and the burgeoning golden era of soul. Close to forty stone masterpieces at the top, in my opinion, including a few that were new to me.

1. Ray Charles "What'd I Say [parts 1 & 2]" (Atlantic)
2. The Isley Brothers "Shout [parts 1 & 2]" (RCA)
3. Miles Davis "All Blues" (Columbia LP: Kind of Blue)
4. Eddie Cochran "Somethin' Else" (Liberty)
5. Ray Charles "Night Time Is the Right Time" (Atlantic)
6. Dion & the Belmonts "A Teenager in Love" (Laurie)
7. Chuck Berry "Memphis, Tennessee" (Chess)
8. Vince Taylor & His Playboys "Brand New Cadillac" (Parlophone)
9. The Coasters "I'm a Hog for You" (Atco)
10. Cookie & the Cupcakes "Mathilda" (Judd)
11. Dave Brubeck "Take Five" (Columbia LP: Time Out)
12. The Coasters "Poison Ivy" (Atco)
13. Ronnie Hawkins "Mary Lou" (Roulette)
14. Sam Cooke "Only Sixteen" (Keen)
15. Howlin' Wolf "No Place to Go" (Chess LP: Moanin' in the Moonlight)
16. Del Royals "A Bomb Bop" (Demo)
17. Brenda Lee "Sweet Nothin's" (Decca)
18. Buddy Holly "Crying Waiting Hoping" (Coral)
19. Little Richard "Shake a Hand" (Specialty)
20. The Coasters "That Is Rock 'n' Roll" (Atco)
21. Chuck Berry "Back in the U.S.A." (Chess)
22. Big Jay McNeely "There Is Something on Your Mind" (Swingin')
23. The Staple Singers "I'm Leaning" (Vee Jay)
24. Connie Francis "Lipstick on Your Collar" (MGM)
25. Fats Domino "I'm Ready" (Imperial)
26. Barrett Strong "Money" (Tamla)
27. Muddy Waters "She's Into Something" (Chess)
28. Little Willie John "Leave My Kitten Alone" (King)
29. Frankie Ford "Sea Cruise" (Ace)
30. The Falcons "You're So Fine" (Unart)
31. Ruth Brown "I Don't Know" (Atlantic)
32. Hank Ballard & the Midnighters "The Twist" (King)
33. Lloyd Price "Stagger Lee" (ABC-Paramount)
34. The Drifters "There Goes My Baby" (Atlantic)
35. The Staple Singers "Going Away" (Vee Jay)
36. Brenda Lee "Let's Jump the Broomstick" (Decca)
37. Santo and Johnny "Sleep Walk" (Canadian American)
38. Bobby 'Blue' Bland "I'll Take Care of You" (Duke)
39. Ray Charles "I Believe to My Soul" (Atlantic)
40. Marty Robbins "El Paso" (Columbia)
41. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles "I Need a Change" (Chess)
42. Nina Simone "I Loves You, Porgy" (Bethlehem)
43. The Coasters "Charlie Brown" (Atco)
44. LaVern Baker "So High, So Low" (Atlantic)
45. George Jones "White Lightning" (Mercury)
46. Chuck Berry "Little Queenie" (Chess)
47. Little Richard "Baby" (Specialty)
48. The Coasters "Three Cool Cats" (Atco)
49. The Flamingos "I Only Have Eyes for You" (End)
50. Bo Diddley "Crackin' Up" (Checker)
51. Muddy Waters "When I Get to Thinking" (Chess)
52. The Coasters "What About Us" (Atco)
53. John Lee Hooker "Maudie" (Vee Jay)
54. The Drifters "Dance with Me" (Atlantic)
55. Jackie Wilson "I'll Be Satisfied" (Brunswick)
56. The Everly Brothers "('Til) I Kissed You" (Cadence)
57. Johnny Cash "Thanks a Lot" (Sun)
58. Hank Ballard & the Midnighters "Kansas City" (King)
59. Bobby Darin "Dream Lover" (Atco)
60. Chuck Berry "Almost Grown" (Chess)
61. Duane Eddy "The Lonely One" (Jamie)
62. The Clovers "Love Potion No. 9" (United Artists)
63. Ray Charles "I'm Movin' On" (Atlantic)
64. John Lee Hooker "(Miss Sadie Mae) Curl My Baby's Hair" (Fortune)
65. Lloyd Price "I'm Gonna Get Married" (ABC-Paramount)
66. Johnny Kidd & the Pirates "Please Don't Touch" (HMV)
67. Johnny Bell "Flip, Flop and Fly" (Brunswick)
68. Fats Domino "Telling Lies" (Imperial)
69. LaVern Baker "I Waited Too Long" (Atlantic)
70. Muddy Waters "Tell Me Baby" (Chess)
71. Ronnie Allen "Juvenile Delinquent" (San)
72. The Isley Brothers "Respectable" (RCA)
73. The Coasters "Along Came Jones" (Atco)
74. The '5' Royales "I Know It's Hard But It's Fair" (King)
75. Roy Hamilton "I Need Your Lovin'" (Epic)
76. Eugene Church "Miami" (Class)
77. The Rock-A-Teens "Woo-Hoo" (Roulette)
78. The Platters "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (Mercury)
79. Howlin' Wolf "The Natchez Burning" (Chess)
80. Phil Phillips "Sea of Love" (Khoury's)
81. Sam Cooke "Everybody Likes to Cha Cha Cha" (Keen)
82. Bing Day "I Can't Help It" (Mercury)
83. Sarah Vaughan "Broken-Hearted Melody" (Mercury)
84. John Lee Hooker "Crawlin' King Snake" (Vee Jay)
85. Frankie Ford "Alimony" (Ace)
86. Jody Reynolds "The Storm" (Demon)
87. Ray Charles "Tell Me How Do You Feel" (Atlantic)
88. Lloyd Price "Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)" (ABC-Paramount)
89. Fats Domino "Be My Guest" (Imperial)
90. Bo Diddley "Say Man" (Checker)
91. Chan Romero "The Hippy Hippy Shake" (Specialty)
92. Little Richard "Kansas City" (Specialty)
93. Homer Denison Jr. "Chickie Run" (Brunswick)
94. J.B. Lenoir "Back Door" (Shad)
95. Johnny Cash "Five Feet High and Rising" (Columbia)
96. Dee Clark "Hey Little Girl" (Abner)
97. Dale Hawkins "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby" (Checker)
98. Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs "College Girl" (Selwyn)
99. Buddy Knox "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself" (Roulette)
100. Johnny & the Hurricanes "Red River Rock" (Warwick)
101. Bobby 'Blue' Bland "I'm Not Ashamed" (Duke)
102. James Brown & the Famous Flames "Good Good Lovin'" (Federal)
103. The Dubs "Chapel of Dreams" (Gone)
104. The Fiestas "So Fine" (Old Town)
105. The Fendermen "Mule Skinner Blues" (Cuca)
106. Ray Charles "That's Enough" (Atlantic)
107. Muddy Waters "I Feel So Good" (Chess)
108. Wilbert Harrison "Kansas City" (Fury)
109. Jack Scott "I Never Felt Like This" (Carlton)
110. Jackie Wilson "That's Why (I Love You So)" (Brunswick)
111. Dwain Bell "I'm Gonna Ride" (Summit)
112. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles "I Love Your Baby" (Chess)
113. Jody Reynolds "Beulah Lee" (Demon)
114. Elvis Presley "A Big Hunk o' Love" (RCA)
115. Ricky Nelson "It's Late" (Imperial)
116. Bobby Darin "Mack the Knife" (Atco)
117. Buddy Holly "Peggy Sue Got Married" (Coral)
118. Etta James & Harvey Fuqua "I Hope You're Satisfied" (Chess)
119. The Isley Brothers "I'm Gonna Knock on Your Door" (RCA)
120. Lloyd Price "Personality" (ABC-Paramount)
121. Marv Johnson "Come to Me" (United Artists)
122. Johnny Bachelor "Mumbles" (Era)
123. Ronnie Hawkins "Southern Love" (Roulette)
124. Little Richard "All Night Long" (Specialty)
125. Sandy Nelson "Teen Beat" (Original Sound)
126. Freddy Cannon "Tallahassee Lassie" (Swan)
127. Sam Cooke "One Hour Ahead of the Posse" (Keen)
128. Jivin' Gene "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" (Mercury)
129. Eugene Church & the Fellows "Pretty Girls Everywhere" (Class)
130. The Bell Notes "I've Had It" (Time)
131. Darrell Rhodes "Lou Lou" (Winston)
132. Fats Domino "I've Been Around" (Imperial)
133. Ronnie Dawson "Congratulations to Me" (Rockin')
134. Paul Gayten "The Hunch" (Anna)
135. Clyde McPhatter "Since You've Been Gone" (Atlantic)
136. The Drifters "Oh My Love" (Atlantic)
137. The String Kings "The Bash" (Gaity)
138. Billy Lee Riley "Got the Water Boiling" (Sun)
139. Bobby 'Blue' Bland "Is It Real" (Duke)
140. Connie Francis "Among My Souvenirs" (MGM)
141. Johnny Kidd & the Pirates "Growl" (HMV)
142. Eddie Cochran "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" (Liberty)
143. Peggy Lee "Hallelujah, I Love Him So" (Capitol)
144. Tommy Blake "$ F--olding Money $" (Recco)
145. Elvis Presley "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I" (RCA)
146. Ray Smith "Rockin' Little Angel" (Judd)
147. Connie Francis "You're Gonna Miss Me" (MGM)
148. Jackie Wilson "Talk That Talk" (Brunswick)
149. Howlin' Wolf "You Gonna Wreck My Life" (Chess)
150. Fats Domino "Margie" (Imperial)
151. Brenda Lee "Weep No More My Baby" (Decca)
152. The Cadillacs "Zoom-Boom-Zing" (Josie)
153. Larry Donn "Honey-Bun" (Vaden)
154. John Lee Hooker "Hobo Blues" (Vee Jay)
155. Sam Cooke "Summertime" (Keen)
156. Howlin' Wolf "Howlin' Blues" (Chess)
157. Little Richard "Lonesome and Blue" (Specialty)
158. Penny Candy "The Rockin' Lady (From New Orleans)" (Flippin')
159. The Fireballs "Torquay" (Top Rank)
160. Eddie Cochran "Little Angel" (Liberty)
161. Clyde McPhatter "You Went Back on Your Word" (Atlantic)
162. Jerry McGill & the Topcoats "Lovestruck" (Sun)
163. Mel Robbins "Save It" (Argo)
164. Freddy Cannon "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" (Swan)
165. Gene & Eunice "Poco Loco" (Case)
166. Andy Anderson "You Shake Me Up" (Apollo)
167. Duane Eddy "Yep!" (Jamie)
168. Johnny Cash "Katy Too" (Sun)
169. Howlin' Wolf "I've Been Abused" (Chess)
170. The Chantels "Goodbye to Love" (End)
171. Lloyd Price "Come into My Heart" (ABC-Paramount)
172. The Impalas "Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home)" (Cub)
173. Duane Eddy "Three-30-Blues" (Jamie)
174. The Everly Brothers "Poor Jenny" (Cadence)
175. John Lee Hooker "I'm in the Mood" (Vee Jay)
176. The Drifters "(If You Cry) True Love, True Love" (Atlantic)
177. Brenda Lee "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home" (Decca)
178. Little Richard "Wonderin'" (Specialty)
179. Eddie Cochran "Boll Weevil Song" (Liberty)
180. Brook Benton "So Many Ways" (Mercury)
181. John Lee Hooker "Tennessee Blues" (Vee Jay)
182. Little Richard "Whole Lotta Shakin'" (Specialty)
183. Preston Epps "Bongo Rock" (Original Sound)
184. Connie Francis "Frankie" (MGM)
185. Ronnie Hawkins "Ruby Baby" (Roulette)
186. Jerry Lee Lewis "Little Queenie" (Sun)
187. LaVern Baker "Tiny Tim" (Atlantic)
188. Duane Eddy "Detour" (Jamie)
189. Howlin' Wolf "I Better Go Now" (Chess)
190. The Staple Singers "Downward Road" (Vee Jay)
191. The Crests "Sixteen Candles" (Lana)
192. Nat 'King' Cole "Midnight Flyer" (Capitol)
193. Bill Parsons "The All American Boy" (Fraternity)
194. James Brown "It Was You" (Federal)
195. Ray Price "Heartaches by the Number" (Columbia)
196. Jim Reeves "He'll Have to Go" (RCA)
197. Chuck Berry "Anthony Boy" (Chess)
198. The Platters "Enchanted" (Mercury)
199. Billy Lee Riley "Down by the Riverside" (Sun)
200. Dave 'Baby' Cortez "The Happy Organ" (Clock)
201. Billy Eldridge "Let's Go Baby" (Vulco)
202. Eddie Cochran "Teenage Heaven" (Liberty)
203. Ricky Nelson "Never Be Anyone Else But You" (Imperial)
204. Johnny & the Hurricanes "Reveille Rock" (Warwick)
205. The Genies "Who's That Knocking" (Shad)
206. Sammy Turner "Always" (Bigtop)
207. The Everly Brothers "Take a Message to Mary" (Cadence)
208. Chubby Checker "The Class" (Parkway)
209. Bobby Freeman "Do You Want to Dance?" (Josie)
210. Gene Vincent "Summertime" (Capitol)
211. Little Richard "Troubles of the World" (End)

1979 SONGS
This was the hardest I've ever worked on one of these archival lists; this happens to come at the tail end of, along with the mid-1950s, one of my favorite periods of popular music, and there are so many strands to investigate: disco, punk, new wave, R&B/soul and the mainstream pop stuff. And each of those quadrants comes with multiple layers to uncover. I ended up hearing a lot of absolute dogshit for this but I also found some out-of-the-way DIY singles I'd never have discovered otherwise, some extraordinary dance music I missed and even some familiar stuff I never properly considered. It was an insane amount of work for something that very few people are ever likely to look at, but it was a great experience... and one I'm very, very glad to have finished! But good fucking night, what a wild cross section of stuff was hitting its peak around this time. Even power pop! The proper beginnings of hip hop! It just keeps going.

My rules for song lists in this period allow one song per album unless the song in question was also a single. A loophole, in other words, but one that I think is warranted by the material

1. Michael Jackson "Rock with You" [Off the Wall + single]
2. Michael Jackson "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" [Off the Wall + single]
3. Patti Smith "Dancing Barefoot" [Wave + single]
4. The Records "Starry Eyes" [Shades in Bed + single]
5. The B-52's "Dance This Mess Around" [The B-52's + single]
6. Donna Summer "Dim All the Lights" [Bad Girls + single]
7. The Clash "Lost in the Supermarket" [London Calling]
8. Sugarhill Gang "Rapper's Delight" [Sugarhill Gang]
9. Wire "Map Ref. 41 N 93 W" [154 + single]
10. Donna Summer "Hot Stuff" [Bad Girls + single]
11. Donna Summer "Bad Girls" [Bad Girls + single]
12. The B-52's "Planet Claire" [The B-52's + single]
13. Talking Heads "Heaven" [Fear of Music]
14. The Clash "Train in Vain" [London Calling + single]
15. Gang of Four "Natural's Not in It" [Entertainment!]
16. The Jam "Thick as Thieves" [Setting Sons]
17. The Only Ones "Out There in the Night" [Even Serpents Shine]
18. Joy Division "She's Lost Control" [Unknown Pleasures]
19. Blondie "Dreaming" [Eat to the Beat + single]
20. Funkadelic "(Not Just) Knee Deep" [Uncle Jam Wants You]
21. The B-52's "52 Girls" [s/t]
22. David Bowie "Look Back in Anger" [Lodger + single]
23. Talking Heads "Cities" [Fear of Music + single]
24. Prince "I Wanna Be Your Lover" [Prince + single]
25. Joy Division "Transmission" [Factory 12"]
26. The B-52's "Rock Lobster" [The B-52's + single]
27. Bee Gees "Love You Inside Out" [Spirits Having Flown + single]
28. Blondie "Die Young Stay Pretty" [Eat to the Beat]
29. The [English] Beat "Tears of a Clown" {Miracles cover} [I Just Can't Stop It (1980) + single]
30. Chic "I Want Your Love" [C'est Chic]
31. The Police "Walking on the Moon" [Reggatta de Blanc + single]
32. Neil Young "Powderfinger" [Rust Never Sleeps]
33. Prince "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" [Prince + single]
34. Wire "On Returning" [154]
35. Anita Ward "Ring My Bell" [TK 12"]
36. Chic "Good Times" [Risque + single]
37. The Clash "I Fought the Law" {Bobby Fuller Four cover} [The Cost of Living EP + single]
38. The Police "The Bed's Too Big Without You" [Reggatta de Blanc + single]
39. Buzzcocks "You Say You Don't Love Me" [A Different Kind of Tension]
40. Buzzcocks "Why Can't I Touch It?" [b-side]
41. Blondie "Atomic" [Eat to the Beat + single]
42. Amii Stewart "Knock on Wood" {Eddie Floyd cover} [Knock on Wood]
43. Shalamar "Take That to the Bank" [Disco Gardens]
44. X "I Don't Wanna Go Out" [Aspirations (1980)]
45. The Slits "Typical Girls" [Cut]
46. The Spinners "Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me Girl" {Four Seasons cover} [Dancin' and Lovin']
47. David Bowie "DJ" [Lodger + single]
48. Prince "I Feel for You" [Prince]
49. The Pretenders "Brass in Pocket" [Pretenders]
50. The Cure "Boys Don't Cry" [Boys Don't Cry + single]
51. Fleetwood Mac "Tusk" [Tusk + single]
52. The Isley Brothers "I Wanna Be with You, pts. 1 & 2" [Winner Takes All]
53. Gary Numan "Cars" [The Pleasure Principle]
54. Parliament "Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)" [Casablanca 12"]
55. Gloria Gaynor "Anybody Wanna Party?" [Love Tracks]
56. The Police "Message in a Bottle" [Reggatta de Blanc + single]
57. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark "Electricity" [OMD (1980)]
58. James Brown "It's Too Funky in Here" [The Original Disco Man]
59. The Clash "London Calling" [London Calling + single]
60. The Jacksons "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" [Destiny]
61. Delta 5 "Mind Your Own Business" [Rough Trade 7"]
62. Buzzcocks "Harmony in My Head" [United Artists 7"]
63. XTC "Making Plans for Nigel" [Drums and Wires + single]
64. The Police "Bring on the Night" [Reggatta de Blanc]
65. Leonard Cohen "Humbled in Love" [Recent Songs]
66. Gary Numan "Complex" [The Pleasure Principle + single]
67. Gang of Four "At Home He's a Tourist" [Entertainment! + single]
68. Dennis Wilson "He's a Bum" [unreleased; Pacific Ocean Blue deluxe (2006)]
69. The Clash "Gates of the West" [The Cost of Living]
70. Switch "I Call Your Name" [Switch II + single]
71. The Crusaders "Street Life" [Street Life]
72. Mass Production "Firecracker" [In the Purest Form]
73. Fleetwood Mac "I Know I'm Not Wrong" [Tusk]
74. The Younger Generation "We Rap More Mellow" [Brass 12"]
75. Michael Jackson "I Can't Help It" [Off the Wall]
76. Donna Summer "On the Radio" [On the Radio: Greatest Hits]
77. Fleetwood Mac "Sara" [Tusk + single]
78. The Jam "When You're Young" [Setting Sons + single]
79. The Go-Betweens "People Say" [Able 7"]
80. The Bar-Kays "Move Your Boogie Body" [Injoy]
81. Talking Heads "I Zimbra" [Fear of Music + single]
82. The Clash "Pressure Drop" {Toots & the Maytals cover} [b-side/Black Market Clash]
83. Roxy Music "Dance Away" [Manifesto]
84. Talking Heads "Life During Wartime" [Fear of Music + single]
85. M "Pop Muzik" [New York + London + Paris + Munich]
86. Tubeway Army "Me, I Disconnect from You" [Replicas]
87. David Bowie "Red Sails" [Lodger]
88. XTC "When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty" [Drums and Wires]
89. Fatal Microbes "Violence Grows" [Small Wonder 7"]
90. Gary's Gang "Keep on Dancin'" [Columbia 7"]
91. Peter Brown "Crank It Up" [Stargazer]
92. Thelma Houston "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning" [Ready to Roll]
93. Joy Division "Novelty" [b-side]
94. Cerrone "Give Me Love" [Supernature (1977)]
95. Tubeway Army "Are 'Friends' Electric?" [Replicas]
96. The Beat "Ranking Full Stop" [I Just Can't Stop It (1980) + single]
97. Buzzcocks "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" [United Artists 7"]
98. Urinals "Black Hole" [Another EP]
99. Sham 69 "Questions and Answers" [Polydor 7"]
100. Tyrone Davis "In the Mood" [In the Mood with Tyrone Davis]
101. Stevie Wonder "Send One Your Love" [Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants + single]
102. The Specials "Nite Klub" [The Specials]
103. Lene Lovich "Lucky Number" [Stateless]
104. Bootsy's Rubber Band "Jam Fan (Hot)" [This Boot is Made for Fonk-N]
105. Sister Sledge "He's the Greatest Dancer" [We Are Family + single]
106. McFadden & Whitehead "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" [McFadden & Whitehead]
107. Killing Joke "Turn to Red" [Malicious Damage 7"]
108. The Stranglers "(Don't Bring) Harry" [The Raven + single]
109. Ashford & Simpson "Found a Cure" [Stay Free]
110. The Undertones "Get Over You" [s/t + single]
111. The Raincoats "Fairtytale in the Supermarket" [s/t]
112. Peaches & Herb "Reunited" [2 Hot (1978)]
113. Edwin Starr "Contact" [Clean]
114. Sister Sledge "We Are Family" [We Are Family + single]
115. The Specials "Gangsters" [Specials + single]
116. Eruption "One Way Ticket" [Leave a Light]
117. The Only Ones "You've Got to Pay" [Even Serpents Shine + single]
118. Pere Ubu "Small Was Fast" [New Picnic Time]
119. Gary Numan "Engineers" [The Pleasure Principle]
120. Michael Jackson "She's Out of My Life" [Off the Wall + single]
121. Bee Gees "Tragedy" [Spirits Having Flown + single]
122. The Meanies "Waiting for You" [Vendetta 7"]
123. The Donkeys "What I Want" [Rhesus 7"]
124. Alternative TV "The Force Is Blind" [Deptford Fun City 7"]
125. The Clash "Armagideon Time" {Willie Williams cover} [b-side/Black Market Clash]
126. The Selecter "On My Radio" [2 Tone 7"]
127. TNT "Zuri Brannt" [Voxpop 7"]
128. Monitor "Beak" [World Imitation 12"]
129. The Government "Flat Tire" [33 1/3 EP]
130. The Damned "I Just Can't Be Happy Today" [Machine Gun Etiquette + single]
131. Mi-Sex "Computer Games" [CBS 7"]
132. Maze "Feel That You're Feelin'" [Inspiration]
133. Penetration "Come into the Open" [Virgin 7"]
134. Algebra Mothers "Strawberry Cheesecake" [Aftertaste 7"]
135. Minny Pops "Footsteps" [Plurex 7"]
136. XTC "Life Begins at the Hop" [Virgin 7"]
137. Wings "Goodnight Tonight" [Columbia 12"]
138. Madness "The Prince" [One Step Beyond... + single]
139. Bauhaus "Bela Lugosi's Dead" [Small Wonder 7"]
140. Chic "My Forbidden Lover" [Risque + single]
141. The Jam "Smithers-Jones" [Setting Sons + single]
142. The Adverts "My Place" [Cast of Thousands]
143. The Barracudas "I Want My Woody Back" [Cells 7"]
144. The Ruts "Something That I Said" [Virgin 7"]
145. The Stranglers "Duchess" [The Raven + single]
146. Disturbed "I Don't Believe" [Parole 7"]
147. Angelic Upstarts "I'm an Upstart" [Teenage Warning]
148. Buzzcocks "Something's Gone Wrong Again" [b-side]
149. The Damned "Love Song" [Machine Gun Etiquette + single]
150. Nervebreakers "Hijack the Radio" [Wild Child 7"]
151. The Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star" [The Age of Plastic]
152. ABBA "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midniht)" [Greatest Hits Vol. 2]
153. Uncle Louie "Full Tilt Boogie" [Uncle Louie's Here]
154. Diana Ross "The Boss" [The Boss]
155. Sid Vicious/the Sex Pistols "Something Else" {Eddie Cochran cover} [The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle]
156. Cabaret Voltaire "Nag, Nag, Nag" [Rough Trade 7"]
157. The Damned "Smash It Up, pts. 1 & 2" [Machine Gun Etiquette + single]
158. The O'Jays "Sing a Happy Song" [Identify Yourself]
159. Patrice Rushen "Hang It Up" [Patrice (1978)]
160. Mother's Ruin "Godzilla" [Godzilla EP]
161. G.Q. "Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)" [Disco Nights + single]
162. The Only Ones "Trouble in the World" [CBS 7"]
163. Fleetwood Mac "Think About Me" [Tusk + single]
164. Van Morrison "Troubadors" [Into the Music]
165. Pere Ubu "The Fabulous Sequel" [New Picnic Time + single]
166. The Jam "The Eton Rifles" [Setting Sons + single]
167. Ian Dury & the Blockheads "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3" [Stiff 12"]
168. Blackouts "The Underpass" [528 Seconds 7"]
169. Public Image Ltd. "Memories" [Metal Box + single]
170. Donna Summer "Heaven Knows" [Live and More]
171. Cheryl Lynn "Star Love" [s/t]
172. The Scabs "Leave Me Alone" [The Scabs EP]
173. The Cure "Jumping Someone Else's Train" [Boys Don't Cry + single]
174. Cockney Rejects "I'm Not a Fool" [EMI 7"]
175. The Flying Lizards "Money" {Barrett Strong cover} [s/t]
176. Evelyn 'Champagne' King "Music Box" [Music Box]
177. Phyllis Hyman "You Know How to Love Me" [You Know How to Love Me]
178. Rick James "High on Your Love Suite" [Bustin' Out of L Seven]
179. The Village People "Go West" [Go West + single]
180. The Atlantics "One Last Night" [Big City Rock]
181. Chinas Comidas "Snaps" [Exquisite Corpse 7"]
182. The Adicts "Easy Way Out" [Lunch with the Adicts EP]
183. The Gap Band "Open Up Your Mind (Wide)" [s/t]
184. Pleasure "Glide" [Future Now]
185. Joe Simon "Love Vibration" [Love Vibrations]
186. 999 "Homicide" [Separates]
187. The Daze "I Wanna Be a Star" [Motor City Rhythm 7"]
188. The Manikins "Premonition" [s/t]
189. The Simpletones "California" [Posh Boy 7"]
190. Siouxsie and the Banshees "Playground Twist" [Join Hands]
191. Smokey Robinson "Cruisin'" [Where There's Smoke...]
192. G.Q. "I Do Love You" [Disco Nights + single]
193. The Undertones "You've Got My Number" [Sire 7"]
194. Instant Funk "I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It)" [s/t]
195. The Stranglers "Nuclear Device" [The Raven + single]
196. Dead Kennedys "California Über Alles" [Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables]
197. Misspent Youth "Betcha Won't Dance" [Big Bear 7"]
198. The Leather Nun "Slow Death" [Slow Death EP]
199. The Pop Group "She Is Beyond Good and Evil" [Y]
200. Chrome "Half Machine Lip Moves" [Half Machine Lip Moves]
201. Michael Jackson "Off the Wall" [Off the Wall + single]
202. Kleenex "You" [Rough Trade 7"]
203. Switch "Best Beat in Town" [Switch II + single]
204. Herb Alpert "Rise" [Rise]
205. Skams "Konfirmationen" [Konfirmationen EP]
206. Rick James "Love Gun" [Fire It Up]
207. David Bowie "Boys Keep Swinging" [Lodger + single]
208. The Searchers "Don't Hang On" [The Searchers]
209. The Weirdos "Happy People" [Who? What? When? Where? Why?]
210. Psykik Volts "Totally Useless" [Ellie Jay 7"]
211. The Specials "A Message to You Rudy" [The Specials + single]
212. The Cars "Let's Go" [Candy-O + single]
213. Average White Band "Stop the Rain" [Feel No Fret]
214. Sema 4 "Even If I Know" [4 from Sema 4]
215. The Undertones "Here Comes the Summer" [s/t + single]
216. Sham 69 "Hersham Boys" [Polydor 7"]
217. Luxury "Green Hearts" [Angry Young 7"]
218. The Searchers "It's Too Late" [The Searchers + single]
219. Ohio Players "Everybody Up" [Everybody Up]
220. Neil Young "Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)" [Rust Never Sleeps + single]
221. The Staple Singers "Chica Boom" [Unlock Your Mind (1978)]
222. Leonard Cohen "The Guests" [Recent Songs + single]
223. The Hoax "Oh Darling" [Only the Blind Can See in the Dark EP]
224. Newtown Neurotics "Hypocrite" [No Wonder 7"]
225. Mekons "Work All Week" [Virgin 7"]
226. Nicolette Larson "Lotta Love" {Neil Young cover} [Nicolette (1978)]
227. Terminal Mind "I Want to Die Young" [I Want to Die Young EP]
228. The Ramones "Rock 'n' Roll High School" [Rock 'n' Roll High School OST]
229. The Rude Kids "Absolute Ruler" [Safe Society]
230. Isaac Hayes "Don't Let Go" [Don't Let Go]
231. Siouxsie and the Banshees "The Staircase (Mystery)" [Polydor 7"]
232. Hot Chocolate "Going Through the Motions" [Going Through the Motions + single]
233. James Brown "For Goodness Sakes, Look at Those Cakes (Parts 1 & 2)" [Take a Look at Those Cakes]
234. Augustus Pablo "Cassava Piece" [Hot Stuff 7"]
235. The Clash "Groovy Times" [The Cost of Living + single]
236. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5 "Flash to the Beat" [Sugar Hill 12"]
237. Art Garfunkel "Bright Eyes" [Watership Down OST]
238. The Tapes "You Can't Just Sleep" [You Can't Just Sleep]
239. Earth, Wind & Fire "Boogie Wonderland" [I Am]
240. Natalie Cole "Stand By" [I Love You So]
241. The Dickies "Banana Splits (Tra La La Song)" [A&M 7"]
242. Public Image Ltd. "Death Disco" [Metal Box + single]
243. Village People "In the Navy" [Go West + single]
244. George Harrison "Not Guilty" [George Harrison]
245. Stevie Wonder "Voyage to India" [Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants]
246. Dennis Wilson "All Alone" [unreleased; Endless Harmony (1998)]
247. Hot Chocolate "Mindless Boogie" [Going Through the Motions + single]
248. GG Allin "Bored to Death" [Always Was, Is And Always Shall Be]
249. Crap Detectors "Police State" [Real 7"]
250. Madness "One Step Beyond" [One Step Beyond... + single]
The Lines "On the Air" [Red 7"]
Curtiss A "I Don't Wanna Be President" [Twin/Tone 7"]
War "Good Good Feelin'" [The Music Band]
The Boys Next Door "Shivers" [Door, Door]
The Jam "Strange Town" [Polydor 7"]
The Records "Girls That Don't Exist" [Shades in Bed]
The Beach Boys "Baby Blue" [L.A. (Light Album)]
Chrome "TV as Eyes" [Half Machine Lip Moves]
999 "Found Out Too Late" [The Biggest Prize in Sport]
Model Mania "No Pride Slow Suicide" [Boob 7"]
Chinas Comidas "Peasant/Slave" [Exquisite Corpse 7"]]
The Searchers "Hearts in Her Eyes" [The Searchers + single]
Kleenex "Ain't You" [Liliput]
The Dark "My Friends" [Fresh 7"]
Kurtis Blow "Christmas Rappin'" [Mercury 12"]
20/20 "Yellow Pills" [s/t]
The Cars "Got a Lot on My Head" [Candy-O]
Tammy Wynette "They Call It Makin' Love" [Just Tammy]
Misfits "Night of the Living Dead" [Night of the Living Dead EP]
Allan Ladds "13 ar" [s/r 7"]
The Beat [U.S.] "Work-a-Day World" [The Beat]


So what's next? I've got some serious catching up to do and one gargantuan task still ahead of me is to tackle the Beatles' Nagra tapes so I can put that massive project to bed at last; the next several posts here will be Beatle-related housecleaning leading us up to a numeric milestone, and then, I freaking promise, some good old-fashioned Content and even some reviews of, gasp, new music!! I'll get to work as quickly as I can because I think once the content mill is well-oiled again this blog will actually return to being semi-interesting. Or maybe not! We'll see won't we!