‘Some day music will only be air. There will be no objects to hold or fetishise and people will simply collect lists…..A chip inside us and inside the chip a route to all the music that there ever was.’
Paul Morley ‘Words And Music’ 2003
Green Inc was launched in January 2012. Over the intervening years our word has spread across all boundaries and borders, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, with around 200,000 unique visitors every year. Of course, in football terms that is the equivalent to being in Division One of the Combined Counties League. And yet, as small potatoes as it is, it never ceases to amaze us and in our book is more than enough reason to celebrate our tenth anniversary.
Initially the best way we could think of to mark such a significant milestone was to come up with our 100 favourite songs, something we’ve been promising to do for years. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for us to discover that compiling such a list is virtually impossible, not least because of our pitiful indecision about what should or shouldn’t be included.
Consequently, we decided to revert back to a method first used in 2015 on our popular Top 25 Most Played songs feature, a playlist compiled to mourn Apples decision to cease iPod production. Employing a similar methodology, we interrogated the most played songs feature on our thankfully still functioning iPod Classics, added the results to the most streamed songs on our annual Spotify Wrapped feature and hey presto, our 100 most played songs of Green Inc’s lifetime were revealed in all their glory!
So here they are, the songs that have quite literally soundtracked our lives over the last ten years in descending order from 100 to number one. Sure there’s the odd surprise - Artful Dodger and Natalie Imbruglia immediately spring to mind - but by including such a wide breadth of artists, styles and era’s, from the coolest hipster shit to our most guilty secret pleasure, more by accident than design this list encapsulates exactly what Green Inc is all about. Anyway, we hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Here’s to the next ten!
Chris Green. January 2021.
100. ERIC B. & RAKIM ‘Paid In Full’ [Seven Minutes Of Music] (Single A Side October 1987)
You didn’t need to be a serious hip hop head to know that what Eric B and Rakim were doing made everyone else sound clumsy and cack-handed, especially when you heard an already great track stretched and distorted at the hand of original Mixmaster’s Coldcut. ‘This is a journey into sound’ a voice promised, and that's exactly what it felt like.
99. ARTFUL DODGER ‘Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta)’ (Single A Side November 1999)
Southampton based Artful Dodger were perfectly placed to catch the mid-nineties UK garage wave when they added some heavy British bass to the funky shuffle of Detroit house. Featuring an eighteen year old Craig David, ‘Rewind’ was their first official release and an unexpected hit, its smashing glass effects, off key chorus and undercurrent’s of sex and violence awakening the post Britpop generation of teenagers to the possibilities and wonder of dance music.
98. THE BROTHERHOOD ‘Punk Funk’ (Elementalz LP June 1996)
By fusing the tried and trusted influence of East Coast American hip hop with subject matter that remained true to their British heritage, The Brotherhood’s obscure debut became one of the most celebrated records of mid-nineties UK Hip Hop before the arrival of grime made it irrelevant and surplus to requirements.
97. NATALIE IMBRUGLIA ‘Torn’ (Single A Side November 1997)
‘Torn’ was written by a couple of American rockers and recorded by Danish singer Lis Sørensen before Natalie Imbruglia turned it into an irresistible smash. No matter though because the Neighbours actress’s version remains strangely ingratiating.
96. THE LINES ‘Over The Brow’ (Single B Side October 1980)
Maybe it was the sheer volume of groups emerging from the shattered remnants of punk that relegated The Lines to the margins. And yet, even with the 21st Century retro mania for all things post punk they remain complete unknowns, their five minutes of fame long overdue.
95. THE VERVE ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ (Single A Side June 1996)
Iconic, uplifting and defiant, ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ still sounds like a metaphorical walk down life's crooked path with two fingers raised to all and sundry.
94. BLANCMANGE ‘The Day Before You Came’ (Single A Side July 1984)
Combining Abba’s trademark melancholy and melodicism with Blancmange’s own brand of artful quirkiness and Neil Arthur’s tendency for melodramatics, ‘The Day Before You Came’ is pure secret pleasures heaven.
93. HOT CHOCOLATE ‘Emma’ (Single A Side February 1974)
A hugely successful chart act known for their brand of fluffy, hook laden, pop disco, Hot Chocolate’s vast catalogue hid stranger, darker stuff like ‘Emma’; a song of dreams, delusion, tragedy and singer/songwriter Errol Brown’s own anguish about the early death of his mother.
92. HALF PINT ‘Greetings’ (Single A Side July 1985)
An irresistible ragamuffin anthem released on the cusp of the digital dancefloor revolution.
91. THE WATERBOYS ‘December’ (The Waterboys LP July 1983)
A record shaped by Mike Scott’s love of Springsteen’s Born To Run with Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks a close second, the thought of a 24 year old, leather jacketed, punk rocknrolla from Edinburgh being influenced by two such dinosaurs was depressing, although no-one could deny the beautifully crafted songs on The Waterboys captured the seed of his sweeping, romantic vision perfectly.
90. BECK ‘Guess I’m Doing Fine’ (Sea Change LP September 2002)
Many of us say we’re fine when we’re not. Many of us don’t want to talk about how vulnerable we really feel. Sometimes it’s too complicated to explain in a way that will do those feelings justice. Sometimes it’s too long a story to tell. Sometimes it’s just easier to say ‘I guess I’m doing fine’.
89. LILY ALLEN ‘Smile’ (Single A Side March 2006)
The noughties were crying out for a brilliant new pop star when 21 year old Lily Allen announced her arrival with ‘Smile’, a summery anthem laced with a refreshing rudeness and a massive dose of self-worth.
88. RENEGADE SOUNDWAVE ‘Kray Twins’ (Single A Side May 1987)
Under the influence of hip hop and early techno, sometime around 1985 DJ crews began playing around with their own breakbeat driven, aural collages. Naturally the staid, old, trad rock critics focused on the death of musicianship and pointed out that the resulting records were essentially stolen while the sonic adventurers reveled in samplings subversive nature and their own punky attitude to music making. Renegade Soundwave were one of the original pioneers, their debut a permanent reminder of how the future once sounded.
87. NAS ‘Halftime’ (Illmatic LP April 1994)
With its articulate, politically aware reportage tripping over dense, scratch reviving beats, the battle rhyme, ghetto testimony of ‘Halftime’ was everything hip hop was ever meant to be.
86. ORANGE JUICE ‘L.O.V.E. Love’ (Single A Side October 1981)
The sound of the defiantly anti macho Edwyn Collins ditching the jagged proto indie pop of Orange Juice’s early Postcard records to embrace his inner Haircut 100.
85. BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE ‘E=MC2’ (This Is Big Audio Dynamite LP October 1985)
For a microscopically brief moment in the mid-eighties Mick Jones was the hippest ex-punk rocker around, grafting together a collective that defined the musical spirit of West London before taking a step into the unknown at a time when the possibilities of technology seemed boundless and hearing scraps of film narrative felt genuinely ground breaking.
84. CREATION REBEL ‘Rebel Rouser’ (Dub From Creation LP March 1978)
Creation Rebel were once a studio outfit called The Arabs who were known primarily for their work with Prince Far I on the classic dub set Cry Tuff Dub Encounter Chapter 1. The rhythms for Dub From Creation were recorded in Jamaica but the overdubs were created in London with Dennis Bovell and debutant producer Adrian Sherwood at the controls.
83. A TRIBE CALLED QUEST ‘Oh My God’ (Midnight Marauders LP October 1993)
With their socially conscious lyrics, infectious boom bap rhythms and laid back jazzy loops, the greatest hip hop group of all time gave us music not just for dancing or punching our fists to, but for sitting around at home stoned out of our minds pondering the whys, wherefores and whereabouts of a new multi-racial bohemia that almost twenty years later still feels as far away as ever.
82. BETTY WRIGHT ‘Shoorah Shoorah’ (Single A Side January 1975)
One of the few things to get excited about musically in 1975 was the embryonic disco scene emerging across the land in the backrooms of pubs and church halls where records like Betty Wright’s fabulously funky yet thoroughly daft ‘Shoorah Shoorah’ got all the girls dancing and all the boys wishing they could.
81. THE CHI-LITES ‘Have You Seen Her’ (Single A Side December 1971)
The ever-so-slightly creepy sound of early seventies adolescent heartbreak encapsulated in five minutes eight seconds of schmaltzy gorgeousness and a fuzz guitar.
80. HOT CHIP ‘Over And Over’ (The Warning LP May 2006)
All too often pop surrealism is accompanied by po-faced over performance, excessive artistic license, general pretentiousness and, frankly, not enough fun. Not so with ‘Over And Over’, a record that doles out its surrealism with a wide-eyed smile and a satisfying crunch. Not since ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ has there been a floorfiller with such an unapologetic sense of fun, such gleeful propulsion or such a daft sense of humour.
79. A CERTAIN RATIO ‘Flight’ (The Graveyard and The Ballroom Cassette January 1980)
Another outfit who consistently slipped under the post punk radar were Manchester’s A Certain Ratio. Refusing to fit into any scene or style, instead they chose to follow their own musical compass by mixing an unlikely hodge podge of funk, jazz and the avant-garde with their ridiculous baggy shorts and whistles to gorge in mutoid delight.
78. ALTERNATIVE TV ‘Love Lies Limp’ (Sniffin’ Glue #12 Flexi Disc August 1977)
Mark Perry’s ever underrated Alternative TV’s catchy as hell, DIY excursion into punky, white boy, reggae.
77. THE FATBACK BAND ‘(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop’ (Single A Side November 1975)
Walk down any street in the bleak, miserably cold winter of 1975/76 and you could hear Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ following you around like a bad smell. Number one for nine weeks from November through to the end of January, one of the few places to escape it’s faux classical, high-brow nonsense was within the dark fug of specialist underground clubs where gut wrenching funk like ‘(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop’ competed for your mind, body and soul.
76. CHANCE THE RAPPER ‘Same Drugs’ (Coloring Book LP May 2016)
Wouldn’t it be nice to be the steady, calm, non-judgmental type of dude who writes songs like ‘Same Drugs’, a Peter Pan story about growing up and falling out of step with someone you used to be in tune with, although listening to Coloring Book it was hard to imagine the eternally joyous and spiritual Chancelor Bennett being out of tune with anyone.
75. TEARS FOR FEARS ‘Head Over Heels’ (Single A Side June 1985)
While pretty boy Curt Smith appeared to be universally loved, Roland Orzabal was generally considered as some kind of shaggy haired genius or a pretentious prat? Not that it really mattered when he could write a song as delicious and dreamy as ‘Head Over Heel’s’?
74. BABYSHAMBLES ‘Albion’ (Albion EP November 2005)
The sound of a likely lad finally embracing his promise, ‘Albion’ was a brilliantly moving tome to dear old Blighty that reached for the heights and planted a union jack firmly on the summit.
73. CLAUDIA BRUCKEN ‘Kiss Like Ether’ (Single A Side January 1991)
One of our favourite secret pleasure’s, what’s not to like about a song that includes not only the cinematic, widescreen tones of the divine Claudia Brucken but the instantly recognisable opening synth line from ‘State Of Independence’.
72. BLUR ‘Tender’ (Single A Side March 1999)
Daman Albarn’s late period study in heartbreak left very little to the imagination yet was both splendid and eerie in a way that songs seldom are anymore.
71. THE SPECIALS ‘Do Nothing’ (More Specials LP September 1980)
‘Do Nothing’ may have conjured up the sonic vision of a blissful, easy listening utopia, but in keeping with More Specials ruinously bleak theme, beneath the surface everything was fucked up and about as far from the cheery Madness of ‘Baggy Trousers’ as it was possible to get!
70. SMITH & MIGHTY FEAT. JACKIE JACKSON ‘Anyone’ (Single A Side May 1988)
Here’s where in just under five minutes, on a track revolving surreally around Bacharach and David’s Anyone Who Had A Heart’, Bristol’s Rob Smith and Ray Mighty invented every British dance record that has attempted to blend dub, ambient and hip hop.
69. M/A/R/R/S ‘Pump Up The Volume’ (Single A Side August 1987)
More noticeable than anything coming out of Detroit, if only because it came from a bunch of defiantly arty, independent, British artists and their defiantly arty, independent label, ‘Pump Up The Volume’ is where the reconditioning of young rockist minds began in earnest, it’s nihilistic rejection of traditional song structure, instrumentation and melody causing outrage amongst the miserabilist indie kids mourning the death of The Smiths.
68. MOS DEF ‘Ms. Fat Booty’ (Black On Both Sides LP October 1999)
Mos Def’s most recognisable and successful track, a flawless if light hearted example of classic, platinum age, hip hop underpinned by a couple of savvy soul samples from a rare Aretha Franklin single.
67. KENDRICK LAMAR ‘King Kunta’ (To Pimp A Butterfly LP March 2015)
For the final half of the noughties, hip hop was a desperate, unmemorable procession of production line robots spouting lyrics trudging a hedonistic treadmill of bling and booty. Kendrick Lamar changed all that, re-energising the art form to such an extent that To Pimp A Butterfly roused us from our slumber.
66. BLACK GRAPE ‘In The Name Of The Father’ (It’s Great When Your Straight Yeah LP August 1995)
It’s Great When You’re Straight Yeah! was our soundtrack to the summer of 1995, the return of Shaky Shaun and his demons heralding a gleeful explosion of profane, raucous, groove driven hedonism that felt much like a defiant counter blast to Britpop’s dubious brand of selective nostalgia.
65. MR THING & YUNGUN ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ (Grown Man Business LP August 2006)
British hip hop failed to gain the kudos or audience it so rightfully deserved. Nonetheless, to our ears the sad regret and profound melancholy of ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ left the standard ‘show me the money’ American nonsense drowning in a cesspit of clichéd, egotistical bullshit.
64. BOMB THE BASS ‘Beat Dis’ (Single A Side February 1988)
Recorded for just £300 with funds from his part time job at a supermarket, with its chunky beats, an even chunkier bassline and over seventy samples, Tim Simenon’s DJ record was DIY heaven, an ethos that even extended to the sleeve where a smiley pinched from Alan Moore’s Watchmen comic became the first use of the symbol in relation to dance music.
63. ORCHESTRAL MANOUVRES IN THE DARK ‘Maid Of Orleans’ (Single A Side January 1982)
Who could resist the timeless appeal of an eighties electro pop duo who liked to think of themselves as experimental combining their guilt at selling a million and a near obsessive interest in Joan of Arc with some curious sonics and a warm, evocative melody that ended up sounding like it was beamed down from heaven by the iconic French saint herself.
62. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM ‘Losing My Edge’ (Single A Side July 2002)
The most audacious and ridiculous debut single of the noughties, ‘Losing My Edge’ successfully captured the anxiety of trying to use your taste in music as a badge of cool in a new age when all music suddenly became available for free to anyone with a broadband connection.
61. PANDA BEAR ‘Comfy In Nautica’ (Person Pitch LP March 2007)
21st century DIY digitally constructed out of other folk’s bits and pieces, handclaps and Noah Lennox’s billowing vocal roundelay.
60. X-PRESS 2 ‘Lazy’ (Single A Side April 2002)
Catchy, funny and anthemic, for those of us who believed the charts to be inconsequential and irrelevant, David Byrnes deadpan delivery transformed London DJ trio X-Press 2’s amiable deep house ditty into a welcome reminder that there was life in the old dog yet.
59. THE TAMPERER FEAT. MAYA ‘Feel It’ (Single A Side April 1998)
Jarvis Cocker was spot on when he wiggled his arse at mad Jacko’s I-am-Christ fantasy at the 1996 Brits and The Tamperer was spot on with this tastelessly inspired reworking of The Jacksons dull hit.
58. PIGBAG ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag’ (Single A Side May 1981)
How odd that Pigbag’s motorised, free jazz, funk groove littered with squalling, squeaky horns underpinned by the Tarzan TV theme from the sixties should become the shock dance smash of the decade.
57. RHYTHIM IS RHYTHIM ‘Nude Photo’ (Single A Side April 1987)
If you were in the slightest bit interested in the outer reaches of music culture the mid-eighties were a good time to be around. As if the arrival of hip hop proper and the birth of acid house wasn’t enough, along came Detroit’s Derrick May to thrill us with another exciting new variant. This one was called techno, an odd mix of euphoria and anxiety, its machine tooled lines and piston percussion forgoing aggression for a haunting sadness that was clearly the sound of a man trying to escape the world without leaving the sanctity of his bedroom.
56. GANG OF FOUR ‘Natural’s Not In It’ (Entertainment! LP September 1979)
If punk was nihilistic and destructive, post punk was positive and constructive, a reason to get excited again with a mesh of activity that made the life more meaningful, a space of possibility where anything could happen and usually did. And no one group exemplified that possibility more than the Gang of Four and jittery, fury driven songs like ‘Natural’s Not In It’.
55. MAX ROMEO ‘War Ina Babylon’ (Single A Side March 1976)
Before teaming up with Lee Perry and reinventing himself as a righteous roots artist, Max Romeo had achieved international notoriety with his puerile rude boy hit ‘Wet Dream’. Thankfully, the crucial ‘War Ina Babylon’ was nothing like it, praising Jah instead of pum-pum and warning of the dire consequences of social deprivation.
54. HAPPY MONDAYS ‘W.F.L.’ [The Vince Clarke Mix] (Single A Side September 1989)
Vince Clarke’s mash up of snappy electro and glam stomp was a perfect lifeline for those indie kids still stuck in their bedrooms with the curtains shut waiting for the end of the world while everyone else was getting loaded. ‘W.F.L.’ was their ticket to fly.
53. FATAL MICROBES ‘Violence Grows’ (Single A Side May 1979)
A song so indelibly linked to a smalltown seventies existence of footie violence, razor gangs, council estate no go zones, NF skins, subways and late night bus rides that you can still smell the fear.
52. CABARET VOLTAIRE ‘Do The Mussolini/Headkick’ (Extended Play EP November 1978)
Caricatured as dark, shadowy, Sheffield, doom mongers with a liking for Letraset artwork and shortwave interference, Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson’s first EP of snotty garage electronica for dummies provided all the inspiration the punk generation needed to create something strange and wonderful out of the disease and decay.
51. THE WEATHER PROPHETS ‘Almost Prayed’ (Single A Side June 1986)
In 1986 the two prize goals of indie pop outfits was the cover of the NME and an appearance on Top of The Pops. Pete Astor’s Weather Prophet's achieved the former with indecent haste but failed to achieve the latter despite being in possession of ‘Almost Prayed’, a song that to this day continues to define the Dionysian abandon of leather trousered, indie cool in less than three minutes .
50. MGMT ‘Time To Pretend’ (Oracular Spectacular LP December 2007)
Occasionally a song comes along that is so fantastic it blows all the bullshit away. With such an incredible, searing melody ‘Time To Pretend’ did just that, lines like ‘I'll move to Paris, shoot some heroin and fuck with the stars / You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars’ detailing the kind of rock’n’roll lifestyle we used to fantasise about as kids.
49. GENERATION X ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ (Generation X LP March 1978)
Billy Idol and Tony James used to dream about the trappings of rock’n’roll too, yet paradoxically they were also in the minority when it came to detailing what it was really like to be a punk kid on the streets of seventies Britain. Their one masterpiece was their self-titled debut, the standout ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ painting a vivid if romanticised picture of teenage thrill seeking and the casual, often extreme violence that was par for the course on a night out not just in London South West Six but in every town and city across the land.
48. ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN ‘The Cutter’ (Single A Side January 1983)
The song to finally match Ian McCulloch’s claim that Echo & The Bunnymen were the greatest band in the world. For a brief moment in 1983 they really were!
47. THE THE ‘The Beat(en) Generation’ (Mind Bomb LP May 1989)
Despite being released at the height of the poll tax riots over thirty years ago, what with Boris, Brexit, Covid, national lockdowns and the seemingly never ending onslaught of prejudice and misinformation, ‘The Beat(en) Generation’ couldn’t sound more current if it tried.
46. OUTKAST ‘Rosa Parks’ (Aquemini LP September 1998)
Once upon a time Outkast were absolutely fearless and the very definition of hip hop. As avant-garde and revolutionary as Public Enemy, the only difference between them was that whereas the Bomb Squad did it with samples, Andre and Big Boi did it with real instruments.
45. THE CONGOS ‘Children Crying’ (Heart Of The Congos LP January 1977)
The words Lee Perry and genius frequently crop up together, even though their use is often unjustified. Heart Of The Congos is one of the few occasions when it is.
44. REAL LIES ‘North Circular’ (Download June 2014)
In these worrying, perplexing times it’s easy to understand our fathomless longing and incapacitating nostalgia despite being only too aware of time moving on regardless. Early twenty something North Londoners Real Lies evoked that same quiet melancholia, the dazzlingly lovely, ethereal textures of ‘North Circular’ overflowing with a peculiarly English sense of bathos that can be traced back through The Streets, Pulp, The Specials and beyond.
43. KATE BUSH ‘And Dream Of Sheep’ (Hounds Of Love LP September 1985)
Kath Bush isn’t an obvious Green Inc choice, so her appearance here was surprising. Even more surprising was that she did it with a tender, piano led song from the Hounds Of Love‘s ‘Ninth Wave’ suite about a shipwrecked sailor slipping into a hypothermia induced limbo and the nightmares, memories and visions lurking therein.
42. ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA ‘Telephone Line’ (A New World Record LP October 1976)
No matter what your musical preference, everyone knows that Jeff Lynne possessed some of the most hummable tunes of the seventies, and as a high watermark of harmony, humor, arrangement and production that grows ever dreamier as the years slip by, ‘Telephone Line’ was arguably the best.
41. ULTRAVOX! ‘My Sex’ (Ultravox! LP March 1977)
In 1977 John Foxx’s breadth of vision, literate dystopian lyrics, dramatic dynamism and sonic ambition sounded so impossibly futuristic that Gary Numan would build his entire career around them.
40. STEEL PULSE ‘Ku Klux Klan’ (Single A Side August 1978)
Completely different in message and tone to its Jamaican counterparts, ‘Ku Klux Klan’ was the first significant British reggae record of the punk era. Creating an atmosphere of dankness and terror that was almost overwhelming, the songs vision of an England drowning in a gradual tide of racist sewage was a powerful pointer for a country in dire need of change both then and now.
39. KRAFTWERK ‘Europe Endless’ (Trans Europe Express LP April 1977)
The Bowie of Low and Heroes led straight to Trans Europe Express, an ice cool anomaly amongst 1977’s 1-2-3-4 black and white monotone that would broaden minds, open ears and fast forward music culture into a future it wasn’t expecting.
38. MALCOLM X ‘No Sell Out’ (Single A Side November 1983)
‘No Sell Out’s scintillating mix of Malcolm X snippets and primitive computer beats dragged both the Nation of Islam protagonist and hip hop into this nation’s consciousness when it threatened to break into the top fifty. At a time when political comment in pop was virtually non-existent and hip hop records were impossible to find on the High Street, minor hits like this helped send it overground.
37. WAR ‘Low Rider’ (Single A Side January 1976)
Three minutes of propulsive cowbell and nagging, slightly skew whiff, car horn aping, funk.
36. 23 SKIDOO ‘Coup’ (Single A Side November 1983)
Punk had denied all forms of black music apart from roots and dub, but in the early post punk climate funk began to be whispered as one way out of the ‘what now?’ impasse. North London experimentalists 23 Skidoo embraced the cultural meltdown of punk, soul, funk, jazz and early hip hop more than most, their classic ‘Coup’ the undisputed pinnacle of underground, British, punk funk.
35. CHARLES B & ADONIS ‘Lack Of Love’ (Single A Side June 1988)
Early Chicago acid walking the tightrope between cheesy disco, punchy house and a bubbling 303.
34. JOHN GRANT FEAT. SINEAD O’CONNOR ‘GMF’ (Pale Green Ghosts LP March 2013)
Pale Green Ghosts was the middle-aged John Grant’s album of personal confession and emotional catharsis, a public display of his darkest moments. And what genius moments they were, especially the exquisitely self-deprecating ‘GMF’, which to all intents and purposes sounded like the sweetest, most tender ballad ever written before the acronym of the title revealed it as a facetious manifesto for the disaffected.
33. BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS ‘No Woman No Cry’ (Live! LP December 1975)
We’ve never claimed to be big Bob Marley fans and we’re not, particularly as we prefer our reggae a little rougher around the edges. Having said that, we have to acknowledge the man’s genius, not only in reggae but in music culture as a whole. And who doesn’t love ‘No Woman No Cry’?
32. MISSY ELLIOTT ‘The Rain’ (Supa Dupa Fly LP July 1997)
Already making waves as a hit maker for the likes of Aaliyah, Missy Elliott’s debut as an artist in her own right was remarkable. Atop a throbbing beat constructed around an ingenious sample of Ann Peebles soul classic, she declared her prowess by unfurling line after line of nonsense over Timbaland’s jerky beats and a host of goofy production flourishes that in time would shift the R&B/hip hop landscape forever.
31. THE CRAMPS ‘What’s Inside A Girl’ (A Date With Elvis LP February 1986)
Almost single handedly The Cramps educated a generation raised on glam and punk and made them realise just how wrong they’d been about Elvis, and how fifties rockabilly, sixties garage bands and seventies punk were essentially one and the same.
30. PJ HARVEY ‘Let England Shake’ (Let England Shake LP February 2011)
An album of genuine protest music in a century when artists are generally to be found waving their jazz hands, smiling their ever painted smiles and whining about the trappings of fame, the twelve songs of Let England Shake chose to say something real and meaningful, going beyond simple anti-war rhetoric to wrestle with the unsettling notion that to be aware of one’s Englishness is to know its blood-soaked history.
29. CANDI STATON ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ (Single A Side April 1976)
A bit Radio Two maybe but still a disco anthem in every sense of the word, the raw emotion contained in ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ and Candi Staton’s desperate plea for feminism tends to go straight over most folk’s heads as they seize instead on the exuberant horns and feeling of hope flowing from its every groove.
28. WIRE ‘I Am The Fly’ (Single A Side February 1978)
Willfully intellectual and arty, Wire refused to fit into the stereotypical punky scheme of things so as consequence sold very little. And yet over time they have proved to be the most influential of them all, their deceptively simple template and increasingly adventurous shapes all over everyone from R.E.M. to Elastica and LCD Soundsystem.
27. LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS ‘Forest Fire’ (Rattlesnakes LP October 1984)
A self-styled intellectual, Lloyd Cole was a somewhat unlikely star in a decade where good taste and refinement were not exactly bywords of pop. Projecting an image of a serious, intense and intelligent young man, he had a knack for casually dropping the names of French philosophers into interviews. But boy could he write, his marriage of intelligent wordplay and catchy melodies producing one of the finest debut albums of the decade in Rattlesnakes and one of the finest singles in ‘Forest Fire’.
26. ULTRA NATE ‘Free’ (Single A Side August 1997)
Let’s face it, all any of us really want to do is to mark out our own little corner of the world, build the barricades high and hope to God that the gruesome hand of reality doesn’t come a knocking. We all just want to be free and Ultra Nate’s nineties pop house anthem said it better than most.
25. TAPPA ZUKIE ‘MPLA Dub’ (Single B Side August 1976)
In 1976 the apocalyptic catalyst of punk transformed many a teenage life. Roots and dub records like ‘MPLA’ were an essential part of all that, particularly in the early days when there were no authentic English punk records to be had.
24. SCHOOLLY D ‘Put Your Fila’s On’ (Single A Side October 1986)
The mid-eighties were a messed up, stylistic mish-mash in which everything was up for grabs. Some plundered the past while others were of the moment, but only Schooly D represented the future. Because right here is where the golden age of hip hop began, the first time we heard such taunting, psychotic tones backed with nothing more than beats, handclaps and an overdose of echo. Gangsta rap was on its way, carrying with it a threat of danger and fear that hadn’t been felt since one J. Rotten opened his diseased gob to sing.
23. GLAXO BABIES ‘Who Killed Bruce Lee?’ (This Is Your Life EP March 1979)
In the final year of the seventies, thousands of us listened religiously to John Peel; 10 till midnight, Monday to Thursday. With no spare cash for records, we would sit up night after night, our fingers poised over the pause button of our portable cassette players recording C90 after C90; a post punk education on ferric oxide. The Glaxo Babies greatest moment came from those tapes, a cracking track that’s been all but erased from history.
22. BAXTER DURY ‘Miami’ (Prince Of Tears LP October 2017)
Ian Dury’s son Baxter didn’t start making his own music until he was nearly thirty. When he did he chose to steer clear of his old man’s notoriously cunty vein of self-interest, arrogance and vindictiveness until he came up with ‘Miami’, a storm of sweary invective about a properly mean prick constructed around an irresistibly funky bass pattern.
21. MANIC STREET PREACHERS ‘A Design For Life’ (Single A Side April 1996)
For all of their faults we adore the Manics, although ‘A Design For Life’ is not so much a reminder of their intelligence and impeccable influences as a memory of too many evenings down the local pub surrounded by a pack of dumbarse, drunken cunts who wouldn’t be seen dead in a library, bellowing out the magnificent chorus without a hint of irony.
20. PETER, BJORN & JOHN ‘Young Folks’ (Single A Side August 2006)
Featured on countless TV and film soundtracks, ‘Young Folks’ is quite possibly the greatest, happy-go-lucky, whistling song of all time.
19. CULTURE ‘Two Sevens Clash’ (Two Sevens Clash LP March 1977)
Culture’s prophecy toting, genius title track from an anthemic album that in 1977 made even The Clash appear weedy.
18. THE STREETS ‘Dry Your Eyes’ (A Grand Don’t Come For Free LP May 2004)
Heard so often in our house that it was taken for granted, Mike Skinner’s unapologetically male paean to breaking up will always be associated with the heartache and tears of teenage lads unceremoniously dumped by their first loves.
17. SEX PISTOLS ‘No Fun’ (Single B Side July 1977)
The Pistols dirty, ragged crawl through The Stooges ‘No Fun’ has always been one of our favourites, Rotten’s malevolent sociology, psychology, neurology, fuckology opening even more proof of his genius. But it was also a reminder of how the popularity of ‘God Save The Queen’ awakened the slumbering, numbskull beasts of Old England (who’s kids would be singing ‘Design For Life’ twenty years later) wishing death and destruction on the punk upstarts walking the streets of their town, and how for them at least, the summer of 1977 really was no fun at all.
16. YELLO ‘Pinball Cha Cha’ (Single A Side June 1982)
If you know Yello at all it will be for their 1988 one hit wonder ‘The Race’. As fine as it was, try and forget that slice of nonsense and instead listen to the even more nonsensical stroke of genius that is the fully extended, South American flavoured, bonkers version of ‘Pinball Cha Cha’.
15. THE FALL ‘Theme From Sparta FC’ Single A Side June 2004)
With the passage of time threatening to overwhelm him with each passing year, how on earth did Mark E. Smith carry on giving enough of a shit at 47 years old to make this angry, brilliantly rockin’ homage to Greek minnows Sparta FC?
14. TRICKY ‘Aftermath ’ (Single A Side January 1994)
Apparently Tricky left Massive Attack because Daddy G wouldn't lend him a couple of quid to buy sausage and chips, though he wasn’t bothered because he’d already written ‘Aftermath’ and was convinced of its genius. Then one day he met Martina, a teenage girl from a local private school who was sitting on his wall and asked if she could sing it. For their first photoshoot Tricky and Martina posed as bride and groom but with the roles reversed. And that’s just one of the reasons why we love Tricky and his hollowed out, Freudian fuck up of a song.
13. ANIMAL COLLECTIVE ‘My Girls’ (Merriweather Post Pavilion LP January 2009)
The sound of the deliberately difficult Panda Bear, Avey Tare and Geologist finally nailing their colours to the mast of pop on an effervescent, heartfelt and inventive tune decrying materialism for the simpler pleasures of life.
12. MASSIVE ATTACK ‘Daydreaming’ (Single A Side November 1990)
It’s impossible to imagine the last couple of decades of worthwhile black, British music without Massive Attacks singular vision, the landmark, downbeat ‘Daydreaming’ featuring a pre-solo Tricky trading rhymes of a distinctly homegrown nature and accent with 3D.
11. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS ‘Red Right Hand’ (Let Love In LP April 1994)
There really is no more to be said about Old Nick’s loping, malevolent classic. Taking on a brand new life of its own, these days it’s impossible to hear its opening clanging chime of doom without conjuring up the accompanying image of Tommy Shelby emerging from the smoke and hellfire of 1920’s Birmingham.
10. EMINEM ‘The Real Slim Shady’ (The Marshall Mathers LP May 2000)
From the sublime to the ridiculous with knobs on.
09. PUBLIC IMAGE LTD ‘Public Image’ (Single A Side October 1978)
For all of Jesus John’s post Pistols rejection of rock, ‘Public Image’ was a staggeringly brutal statement of intent, the glorious minimalism of Jah Wobble’s booming two note bassline and Keith Levene’s ringing guitar shadowing his exorcism of Johnny Rotten, the Sex Pistols descent into hell, Malcolm McLaren, sad Sid Vicious and his audience. He wanted nothing more to do with the whole sorry mess and who could blame him?
08. U ROY ‘Natty Rebel’ (Single A Side October 1975)
‘Rebel in the morning, rebel in the evening’, U-Roy was the real deal and making The Gladiators version of Marley’s ‘Soul Rebel’ his own the best thing he ever did. As if that wasn’t enough, with remarkable chutzpah he even claimed the saintly Bob’s writing credit as well.
07. M.I.A. ‘Paper Planes’ (Kala LP August 2007)
M.I.A. remains one of best things to happen to 21st century music and its largely thanks to ‘Paper Planes’, a downtempo masterpiece that with its chorus line of kids chanting, guns firing and the ‘kerching’ of a cash register was more like a torch song for the worlds disaffected. For some reason, the fact that she did it with the help of a Clash sample made it even more profound.
06. DEAD PREZ ‘Animal In Man’ (Let’s Get Free LP May 2000)
It never ceases to amaze us how a hip hop track from 21 years ago by a couple of militant, socialist rappers based on a classic 75 year old George Orwell book can still resonate. And with such an infectious, driving G-Funk bass too! Then again, that’s the power and wonder of music isn’t it?
05. THE SLITS ‘Newtown’ (Cut LP September 1979)
Playful and savage, confrontational and contradictory, Cut still sounds as wild and untamed as the mud splattered superwomen staring out from the sleeve, its febrile energy and slippery grooves creating a space large enough for seventeen year old Ari Up’s bewildering array of enunciations on marriage, sexism, love, heroin, consumerism, TV, radio and The Slits refusal to believe in such a world.
04. FRANK OCEAN ‘Novacane’ (Download May 2011)
Taken at face value ‘Novacane’ was ground breaking enough, a mid-tempo, sex and drug ballad that together with Frank Ocean’s cachet of underground cool restored some much needed credibility to R&B’s faded reputation and artistry. And yet, it was also a song about self-worth and strength, and how instead of our hedonistic pursuit of joy, deep within we have the tools to make ourselves happy in any number of meaningful and long term ways.
03. THE CLASH ‘White Man In Hammersmith Palais’ (Single A Side June 1978)
Joe Strummer’s blistering state of the nation address, in which he considers everything from music to racism and rising nationalism, is still a major tour de force and forty three years down the line, more relevant than it’s ever been.
02. BJORK ‘All Is Full Of Love’ (Single A Side June 1999)
The accompanying promotional video of robots kissing attracted so much attention that the song behind it usually gets overlooked, but ‘All Is Full of Love’ was utterly beautiful even without the visuals. Romantic and optimistic, it was Bjork at her most drowsily erotic and seductive.
01. DAVID BOWIE ‘Heroes’ (Heroes LP October 1977)
Described variously as Bowie’s timeless beacon of hope for the disenfranchised, a bruising sing-song fatefully resigned to nihilism and no future, a doomed pair of lover’s suicide pact or a swelling anthem about the heroic nature of love in a cold, cold world, ‘Heroes’ is certainly the greatest song of all time and fittingly, our most played song of Green Inc’s lifetime.