[1] The Verve, ‘Bittersweet Symphony’

For a couple of months in 1997 everyone loved The Verve. Then ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ was a bit drippy (No.1 smash notwithstanding), the album underwhelmed and the whole shooting match fell to pieces amid lawsuits and general hatred, only for Richard Ashcroft to rise from the flames like a boring phoenix.

So, many evils were visited upon the world, but ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ is a classic. I love ‘Brimful Of Asha’ more, I find, but ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ is a classic. We need our rock classics. Without them, what would Virgin Radio’s listeners vote into the Top 10 ‘tracks’ of all time? What would our dads and brothers-in-law play in the car?

This is more inventive than your standard rock monster. For a start, there’s a *gasp* sample. Bet they regretted that. The strings don’t add pomposity, as they would to any number of Oasis singles of the time, they add urgency. Pompous as that sounds. Oh, blah blah blah. I love the wall of sound, getting wider and higher throughout.

And Junior swung her hips – which don’t lie – in exact time with the string stabs, and rocked back and forth with the Eastenders drums. She was wailing by the end, mind. Probably had a vision of Ashcroft’s solo career. Actually, the iDog was making funny noises as well. That’s one bad solo career.

A Spotify playlist of the whole Top 20 (but no Blue Boy. Rats)

[15] Finley Quaye, ‘Sunday Shining’

Finley was 1997’s one year wonder. Smash hit single, monster album, scene-stealing Brits appearance (in ’98, admittedly, but you know what I mean), Mercury nomination… hmm, apparently no Mercury nomination. He must’ve been gutted. The flippin’ Propellerheads got a nomination. ROBBIE BLEEDING WILLIAMS got a nomination.

Well, I thought Maverick A Strike was quite good. 60-70% of it anyhow. ‘Sunday Shining’ takes a Bob Marley tune, makes it interesting, adds some light rawk, a sprinkle of cool and maintains the ma-ri-ju-ana quotient. Wikkid, man.

Junior and the iDog hook into the sinuous beats and lazy, slinky guitar licks. “Yes, sweetheart,” I say, “I know Robert de Niro didn’t seem like much of a ‘hero’ in Meet The Fockers the other night. Finley’s referring to… erm, jeez, I dunno.”

He’s Tricky’s uncle, doncha know. These segues are getting worse.

[8] Daryl Hall & John Oates, ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’

Try and educate a baby all you like, she’ll always return to her frames of reference. “No Kandoo? Who cares, Dad? We’ve still got Pampers,” was her reaction. She listened with the lonely, neglected iDog, whose flashing lights suggested this is a hip-hop tune. It certainly launched a million of them.

Hall and Oates absolutely hammered the Billboard charts, like a pair of big-haired doo-wopping blue-eyed-soul Temptation-wannabe male Mariah Careys. They did ok over here too, no doubt helped by regular slots on lovable rascal Jonathan King’s Entertainment USA programme. I’ve opened a Pandora’s Box of memories there, haven’t I?

You’ll all remember John Oates’ huge, bushy moustache, of course. He was one of those fellows who saw the light just a little too late and shaved it off, without making an iota of difference. It might not be there, but you can still see it. As popular football managers Graeme Souness and Sam Allardyce have also found, a phantom ‘tache will always play around his top lip.

[14] Lil’ Louis, ‘French Kiss’

French Kiss

You know the drill: just-missing-the-boat acid house with a load of moaning over the top. Yep, Dad was late with Junior’s Weetabix again.

Like taking a bite of acieeed-laced madeleine, this brings me back to a low-rent nightclub in Corfu in August ’89. Junior’s Uncle Neil and I are trying to dance with a bunch of German girls who’d been admiring our pale, skinny torsos on the beach a few hours earlier. Couldn’t really tell where their eyes were looking behind the sunglasses, I suppose, but we certainly gave off a glare.

Halfway through the record, of course, as the orgasmic groans creep in, everyone looks awkward and stares at their shoes (purple Converse here, I reckon; with jeans and paisley shirt, if I was a betting man). The moment passes, and Neil and I return to necking as much lager as our teenage frames will take.

Back in 2006, Junior just thinks the poor iDog’s crying.

[19] Soul II Soul, ‘Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)’

Caron Wheeler

Junior’s hair’s growing fast, but stops just short of Funky Dreads. OK, miles short. She and the iDog were content to shake metaphorical dreads, nodding their heads sagely as if they were teetering on the cutting edge in the Africa Centre in the late 80s. The Africa Centre. It was just a rubbish shop in Covent Garden, wasn’t it?

A seminal record, this, so we’re told. I always find it oddly unsatisfying. Where’s Jazzie B’s searing insight into being selective and objective and an asset to the collective? I mean, come on, we’re on this mission to achieve. But yes, Caron Wheeler does a lovely job – early Shara-Nelson-bad-solo-career prototype that she was – and the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra keep it swinging. They had plaits, incidentally, not Funky Dreads. They were no a to the c.

I had this single on 3” CD. Weren’t the 80s great?

[20] Kirsty MacColl, ‘Free World’

Kirsty MacColl

Sorry, Kirst, for demeaning your memory by playing this song through the iDog. The decorators are coming in to paint our new living room today, so all the stereo components are in a pile next to my bed, and I just couldn’t wait to get started with ’89. You can only go so long without hearing Glen Medeiros’ honeyed tones.

Right, what’s she on about here? Well, it’s a protest song, anti-Thatcherite and bristling with the righteous fury of the masses, man. It’s driven by rattling, chiming guitar, very Smithsy – as I recall, Johnny Marr was all over the Kite album so this is no spooky coincidence. Then we have the familiar, multi-tracked MacColl vocals. I think they’re multi-tracked, she always sounded like that. Or maybe she had more than one larynx.

Anyway, it’s a great record and it gets better every year.

The iDog gave it the full red and yellow lightshow and shook its head around. Junior copied it. The head-shaking bit, I mean. She’s not mastered projecting coloured lights from her forehead yet. God knows what they do at that nursery all day.