The Wild Hare Club can also be found on twitter @WildHareClub. Every so often I post links to songs that can be found in the boxes of great singles that I have collected over the years. These #fave45s are gradually building up into a virtual jukebox that can be enjoyed at your leisure.
So here to whet your appetite is a list of 45 of my favourite 45s compiled to mark my 45th birthday.
These are not my 45 favourite singles of all time or a list that makes any claims beyond the fact that each of these records was special enough for me to shell out some hard earned cash - or in the case of some of them, precious pocket money. The list is therefore decidedly retro. All are tunes that may come out across the P.A. between bands at a WHC gig.
Obvious omissions in terms of favourite bands may be because I only have the songs on l.p. - for example I never bought any Stones singles because I had the albums and a copy of ‘Rolled Gold’. Similarly Blondie’s greatest hits is a party in and of itself. Did I tell you about when I met Debbie Harry? I did? Oh well.
They are in no particular order of preference but each one of them still fires me up.
Feel free to comment and point us in the way of your favourites.
1/. White Man in Hammersmith Palais – The Clash. If push came to shove, I would probably say the Clash made my favourite run of singles ever, but it wasn’t until I heard this that I became a believer and realised that a lot of the progressive rock records I’d been listening to beforehand were, in fact, tosh.
2/. I’m a Believer - Robert Wyatt. The most human of singers and from all accounts a wondrous human being covers Neil Diamond. The only occasion Nick Mason, Pink Floyd’s drummer, has ever really had to break out beyond a trot.
3/. Because the Night – Patti Smith. Her greatest hit. Out-spronged Springsteen on this co-write. I remember running out of my maths O level to buy this absolute classic. Live, the band always gives it a thorough roughing up for some reason. Lenny always mauls the guitar solo as if embarrassed at how polished the recorded version is.
4/. Virtual Landslide – Pete Molinari. Pete is making quite a name for himself these days, I am proud to say some of you may have heard him first courtesy of the Wild Hare Club. Quite the finest voice ever heard around our kitchen table…so far that is.
5/. Reward – Teardrop Explodes. Peppered by punchy brass this was a great record and unlike anything else when it came out. I fear that my terrible dancing may owe a lot to Julian Cope.
6/. Take the Skinheads Bowling – Camper Van Beethoven. There was a long time when no mix-tape made by yours truly didn’t include this song. I have subsequently heard that it was and still remains a favourite of various of my friends’ young offspring.
7/. Fire – Crazy world of Arthur Brown. Another record to make you smile. I wish that I had witnessed him perform it live, complete with flaming helmet.
8/. Soulful Dress – Sugar Pie DeSanto. Bridget, who used to work at Greenpeace, gave me a tape that included this soulful stomper, a fabulous party song – No messin’.
9/. A New England – Kirsty MacColl. Billy Bragg’s early classic that rings out with Kirsty’s vocal multi-tracked to fabulously joyful effect. The story of Kirsty’s tragic end is one that is one that haunts. Remember her for her wit and extraordinary voice.
10/. Mafia – Lloyd Parks. I first heard this tune on a 1975 bootleg of Patti Smith and her band playing live at the Bottom Line which I bought from a Brixton junk shop. Lenny Kaye, her guitarist and a real gentleman to boot, told me that they learned it from a mix tape and they just loved jamming round the chorus. Was chuffed to bits when, not so long ago, I found this original in a box of reggae 7”s.
11/. Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads. This was the record where they underwent some extraordinary metamorphosis and became something else. For quite a few years Talking Heads were the soundtrack to every party I went to, the strangest being one on a French farm celebrating the end of the vendage. We had drunk a ludicrous number of bottles of wine and retired to the farmer’s son’s house where we took a handful of mushrooms each. I remember being the only one capable of using the record player and repeatedly playing one Talking Heads song, ‘This Must be the Place’ repeatedly all night. Everybody else was too shot to care. I can remember picking up the tone arm as it came to the end of the track and deliberately putting it back to the beginning time after time. As it happens, I have a rather fine single of the man with the horn, Miles Davis, playing the Cyndi Lauper hit ‘Time after Time’ but that is a digression and I won’t include it in this list.
12/. Marimba Jive – The Red Guitars. There are no actual African records on the list because I don’t have any African singles, not even the wonderful tune that was used to advertise Pepsodent toothpaste when I was in Malawi. I remember dancing to that tune when played by the local Police Band in a town on the shores of Lake Malawi a million or so years ago. This record features some African style-guitar and a rambunctious bass-line in an approximation of township jive by a band that put out a series of rather fine singles some time in the 1980s.
13/. My Soul – Clifton Chenier. A recent acquisition by the great Cajun accordionist, bluesy and soulful and not an upbeat zydeco number of the kind he’s famous for.
14/. Anarchy in the UK – Sex Pistols. Still sounds ferocious and I would argue the only Pistols record you really need, though I do like ‘Pretty Vacant’ and come to think of it, ‘Submission’. My copy is on EMI and it shames me that I can’t remember the name of the bloke who gave it to me ,but he may be still be working as an illustrator in the Natural History Museum.
15/.Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks. My favourite Kinks song. Wonderful. I always thought of them as a singles band until I recently bought the ‘Village Green Preservation Society’ album and realised they were so much more. Who hasn’t got wistful walking along the Thames humming this song. I once heard Robyn Hitchcock and Kimberley Rew perfom this perfectly straight up except for the song’s protagonists got changed to Iggy and Vera which somehow changed the movie playing inside my head to something vaguely sinister. Talking of which…
16/. I Wanna Destroy You – The Soft Boys. The nearest this band ever got to cutting a straightforward pop/rock record with Robyn snarling the lyrics – ‘a pox upon the media and everything you read/ they tell you your opinions and they’re very good indeed…’ and many other fine rhyming couplets over a straight ahead bass-line. The old pervert in me thought of listing ‘Listening to the Higsons’, a later solo single by R.H. - if only because it is the sole record in my collection which features the sound of a wok being whacked.
17/. Rip it up – Orange Juice. I love this song riding along on that spacehopper-round bass line and well it’s one I love singing along to, though apologies if you happen to be in the neighbourhood when I’m doing so.
18/. Start Over Again – Indigo Moss. Everything about this band and record is just right. The harmonies, the plucky banjos. Everything. Having them play the WHC was a real highlight of 2007. I look forward to the next record and would love to have them come play again. Trevor Moss, Sir, is this a possibility?
19/. Running Water – Martin Stephenson and the Daintees. A great song from a great album Boat to Bolivia that is full of heart.
20/. Whole Wide World – Wreckless Eric. Well I am glad to be able report that our hero has indeed finally found love somewhere in the vastness of the U.S.A. in the form of the songstress Amy Rigby. I heard the two of them play a version of this at the Rhythm Festival in 2006 and they kept it chugging on forever not that anybody minded much.
21/. Walk on Guilded Splinters – Marsha Hunt. My sister, Gilly, never owned very many records but the ones she had were all great. One l.p. she did have was Dr John’s ‘Gris Gris’ – the best of his night-tripper records and the album which features his version of this song. I searched high and low for this version until one day I went into the Dinosaw market waved my hand over the vast trays of unsorted singles and told myself that if I dipped in I would pull this record out and of course I did. Magic? Synchronicity? Voodoo? Who knows, but all the sweeter because it only cost me 50p.
22/. Making Plans for Nigel – X.T.C. X.T.C. have recorded many great tracks over the years but somehow remain under-appreciated, probably because there has never been anything remotely cool about them. Their early records were jittery and somehow nagged their way into your consciousness, their later records were much more melodic and owed a lot to the Beatles. This one catches them moving from the first phase towards the second phase. The song needled boring Nigels the land over and had a very distinctive drum sound. Hugh Padham, the engineer, went on to work with Phil Collins whose records were loved by boring Nigels the land over throughout the 1980s.
23/. Maggie May – Rod Stewart. Who doesn’t love this song and the clip of Rod and the Faces performing this on Top of the Pops with John Peel looking decidedly uncomfortable miming the mandolin? Go watch it on Youtube. The great late Ronnie Lane played bass with the Faces and is featured on this record. He left to make folky/country records with his own band Slim Chance which for me have much the same feel and appeal as Fisherman’s Blues era Waterboys. The albums are great and yielded a couple of great singles in ‘How Come’ and ‘The Poacher’. I don’t possess either on 45 which is why they’re not on this list.
24/. 96 Tears - ? & the Mysterians. The garage classic. As Lenny would say - “It’s a nugget if you dug it…”
25/. Boys from the County Hell – The Pogues. The Pogues are a firm family favourite and a band Stas and I saw many times, the best time ever being a Christmas gig at the Electric Ballroom with Joe Strummer and Kirsty MacColl guesting. Stas danced so much she got Bhundu-leg and couldn’t walk properly for a couple of days afterwards. The term Bhundu-leg by the way was coined after a celebratory night in Wormelow in the company of the much loved Bhundu Boys where Gilly danced so hard she was similarly incapacitated as a result. I would like to see this term enter the national lexicon. I’ve just mentioned this to Gilly and said that more recently she had got a severe case of Bikini Beach knees. Some days round here it’s a bit like ‘Three Men in a Boat…’
26/. Eton Rifles – The Jam. So another from the punk era with a great rattling bass line played on a Rickenbacker. Think the words on this are great, both sneering at the public schoolboys playing soldiers and righteously angry that these boys will inevitably have the upper hand – ‘What chance have you got against a tie and a crest?’ At the boarding school I went to, boys in the cadet force were known as ‘turdies’.
27/. Tainted Love – Gloria Jones. The original version of the Soft Cell smash, which is of course also a marvellous record. This version is by Gloria Jones whose other half was Marc Bolan. This fact will now have you pondering why there are no T Rex records on this list.
28/. Talk of the Town – Pretenders. Chrissie Hynde has one of the best voices ever, tough and vulnerable at the same time. That she chose to team up with a bunch of lads from Hereford and make two rocking albums, before two of the boys fucked up big time is something we should be grateful for. Though I have fond memories of working in the Hereford sorting office one Christmas talking to a sweet girl at the adjoining set of pigeon holes while ‘Brass in Pocket’ was playing on the radio, ‘Talk of the Town’ is my absolute favourite of their singles. It’s the chord change between verses, I think one of the chords is a suspended something -whatever it’s the way it rings out and stays with you. Not long ago I had a funny encounter with Martin Chambers, the drummer, in the Cross Keys but that’s for another day. Would like to see him at a Wild Hare Club gig one day. Can’t say I’d mind if Chrissie Hynde wandered in nonchalantly either…
29/. All the Way from Memphis – Mott the Hoople. Another group most of the members of which originated from around these parts. Heard this for the first time in ages on New Year’s Eve and loved it all over again. It’s a mighty long way down rock’n’roll…a line quoted in Billy Bragg’s lyrics for ‘Waiting for the Great Leap Forward.’ He knows his onions that Billy Bragg.
30/. Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury & the Blockheads. Was this a Christmas number one? I got this in my Christmas stocking together with ‘Making Plans for Nigel’. Not long after Ian Dury died, Stas and I went to a memorial gig with the Blockheads joined by various people taking it in turns to sing or bark Dury’s words. Nobody could ever fill the great man’s hobnailed boots of course, but nobody in the audience cared because somehow dredged from memory and unsung for 20 years or so, every member of the audience bellowed out the scurrilous words in an act of drunken communion. I also want to pay tribute to Davey Payne, the sax player, whose free jazz squalling on two saxes is just another reason to love this record.
31/. Keep on Keepin’ On – NF Porter. As Pete Mustill said to me while I was DJ-ing at Gilly’s 50th and everybody was shaking their stuff to a succession of great old soul tracks, “great records but all the same chords….” and then proceeded to explain. It’s not always good to know too much. That said, a lot of northern soul records are remarkably similar but this one with its insistent guitar riff is a cut above and well worth searching out.
32/. The Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon. Great song, funny words:
"Saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand/Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain/He was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's/Going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein/Werewolves of London"
Some great whoohooing too although the greatest whoohooing of all time is of course to be heard on ‘Sympathy for the Devil’!
The Flamin’ Groovies always knew a good song when they heard one and covered this, but Zevon’s version is better. However wanted to mention the Groovies so that I could ignore the self-imposed limit of choosing only 45 45s to write about. So hereby ‘Shake Some Action’ is formally mentioned in dispatches.
33/. Ghost Town – The Specials. A bona fide classic that encapsulated the zeitgeist - blimey have I been reading too much Wild Self? No come to think of it it’s schadenfreude that seems to appear in everything he writes…so back to the record being a reflection the times when it was made. I clearly remember ringing my Mum from a phone box to tell her the good news that I had found a shared house in Clapham to move into and the bad news was that, as I was speaking to her, I was busy watching all the shop owners board up their shop windows because a riot was brewing. Ah the Brixton riots…..
34/. Hand in Glove – The Smiths. The first Smiths single. I heard this on John Peel and immediately thought that here was a band making records just for me. Extraordinary thing was that all around the country other gloomy young men were thinking the same thing, so they became immensely popular much to the chagrin of all their numerous devotees. I bought all the Smiths singles as they came out but mainly on 12” because the B-sides were always so good. One of the good things about The Smiths is that they didn’t go in for naff extended remixes except for a useless extended version of their greatest moment ‘This Chariming Man’. And all their songs had proper endings -didn’t just fade out - I always appreciated that.
35/. These Boots are Made for Walkin – Nancy Sinatra. I think I can remember this song from the radio when I was pretty young and I associate it with my elder sister, Ruth. There is a great photo of her in full ‘60s dolly bird garb including a pair of white boots. The first lady of bass, Carol Kaye played on this record, and can be heard no doubt loads of others in mine and your collection including, apparently, Love’s ‘Andmoreagain’. One photo of the studio bass player shows that she was also the proud owner of a pair of white boots just like sister Ruth’s. Postscript: one of the more obscures singles in my collection is a cover of this song by Pure Hell, an all black punk band from Philly.
36/. Ever Fallen in Love – The Buzzcocks. Never would sit down and listen to an album’s worth of Buzzcocks songs, but listening to Peel’s radio show their songs always provided a much needed injection of fizz and showed up the bands featured before and after for the laggards that by comparison they obviously were. This is their best moment and, for this listener forever associated with a particular time, place and person. May I also recommend Buzzcock, Pete Shelley’s solo single ‘Homosapien’ that drills itself into your brain and once there is hard to dislodge.
37/. Don’t Look Back - Peter Tosh feat. Mick Jagger. Where the former Wailer swaggers with Jagger.
38/. The Weight – Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul covering one of The Band’s finest – impeccable.
39/. Stand Down Margaret (dub) – The Beat. One side of a double A side with ‘Best Friend’ this was the track that always got played. A great groove, some anti-Thatcher toasting, some dubby, echoing sax, what’s not to like? A favourite of WHC friend and collaborators Reggae Pie.
40/.Voodoo Rhythm – Key Largo. Don’t know anything about this record or the band that cut it back in 1970. I picked it out of a box of second hand singles in Camden Market on the basis of its title and the fact that the other singles in the box were all quality gear. I am a firm believer that any record with voodoo in the title is likely to both sound good as the creator will have at least tried to give it some kind of tribal rhythm and will have gone to the effort ad concocted some quasi mystic lyric. This record is no exception and I have resisted frying to find anything more about it. ‘Witch Queen of New Orleans’ by Redbone is another favourite from about the same time. London’s Urban Voodoo Machine obviously concur with me and have built a following on this premise and very entertaining they are too.
41/. Le Coeur Qui Jazze – France Gall. As Nick Hornby has chronicled at great length (sour grapes here because I could have written High Fidelity – that’s not a novel that’s an episode out of my life - and he had already mopped up with the Arsenal book) the joys of meandering from record shop to record shop on a Saturday afternoon leafing through the discs with a sense of purpose, or none at all, is soon to be a half-remembered pleasure of men across the land who’s girth is ever expanding and their hairlines ever shrinking. Still there are a couple of musty smelling record shops that haven’t changed much in close on 30 years in Hanway Street, a little alley that cuts the corner between Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. (Bradley’s Spanish Bar can be found in the same street. Incidentally Bradley’s remains a favourite in part because it has a truly fantastic jukebox, but that’s for another time). Anyhow a visit to these shops conducted not so long ago and driven in part by nostalgia, yielded this treasure . BTW this shop is where I first encountered Shane MacGowan and Cait O’Riordan of the Pogues. Shane was working there and Cait was chatting to him and they were playing ‘Chinese Rocks’ by Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. They were both pretty striking and they were obviously plotting. Me, I was taking notes.
42/. Transmission – Joy Division. If I’d included 12 inch singles on this list, I would have picked ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ or maybe even ‘Atmosphere’, but this is the one in the 7 inch box and their calling card. I’d read about them in the NME and wanted to check them out. I went to Buzz Music in Hereford where the hippy behind the counter said he thought they sounded like the Doors. They didn’t much but I was grabbed by Peter Hook’s bass and Ian Curtis’ voice. Some time later I wanted to see them at Malvern Winter Gardens but the girl I wanted to take wasn’t interested. Next time I thought, but there wasn’t to be another chance. I expect however that I’ll watch Control when it comes out on DVD.
43/. This Wheel’s On Fire – Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity. One of the songs originally recorded by Dylan and the Band while they were holed up in the Big Pink, I think musically this is one of the most distinctive songs in the buzzard-voiced folkies burgeoning song book. This version was released in ’68 and still sounds fantastic and drop dead cool. Have to admit to quite liking Siouxie’s version too.
44/. People Get Ready – The Impressions. Curtis Mayfield and co on this soothing gospel-tinged song and given that trains are the most musical mode of modern transport, the only train song on this list.
45/. Redemption Song – Bob Marley. Is there anyone who doesn’t love Bob Marley? Sam (younger son) has Marley as his second name, Willian has Dylan as his – the two Bobs see….Having a few cassettes featuring Bob and the Wailers was definitely an asset when travelling in Africa in the 1980s. This just seemed a good song to end on, a campfire favourite of many a busker including uncle Joe Strummer, although I would take issue with Bob’s fatalism with regard to nuclear energy…..
That’s it 45 great 45s, go and listen to the ones you don’t know, every one a blinder.