[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)

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[9] Rhythim Is Rhythim, ‘Strings Of Life’

Derrick May

Now, this wasn’t strictly originally released in 1989, but then techno stuff took so bally long to get from Detroit to London that it’s a moot point. Not to mention the final leg up the A41 to some Hemel Hempstead garage. That’s a garage with tools and half-used pots of paint, not a genre-forming hotbed of soul-infused house music.

It says 1989 on the label of the 12” slapped down on the right-hand wheel of steel this morning, for Junior’s listening pleasure and hardnosed assessment. The vinyl’s a bit worn now, so she hardly noticed the subtle piano washes before the beat made her jump. Then she sat and chewed the kangaroo that looks worryingly like one of those soluble bath soaps. Ah well. She wouldn’t be the first person to foam at the mouth while dancing to impeccable acid-tinged techno.

This record’s a sacred cow, Derrick May a revered pioneer. Which is why it’s so obvious that a bunch of troglodytes called Soul Central should decide a year or so back that what the song needed was to be beaten to death with bland, and then desecrated with a pointless vocal track. Cool.

Today’s digression: Virgin Radio just played Bowie’s ‘China Girl’ for at least the second time this week. It was one of the first couple of dozen singles I bought, so I’m warm towards it, but it’s hardly some canonical classic that deserves frequent airplay 23 years later, is it? I’ve noticed this trend on stations like Heart and Magic. They’ve decided, say, that Atlantic Starr’s ‘Secret Lovers’ is one of the all-time greats – kind of an alternative to the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the Greatest Single Of All Time universe. Dunno who’s right; I suspect it’s neither, but at least ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has some kind of sales/polling pedigree, usually lacking in the Heart and Magic faves.

Jukebox Junior FM coming soon, playing wall-to-wall Prefab Sprout. It’s What The Public Wants.