This is a great one to kick off with. The riffs in this song are turbo-charged, and there are loads of them. Besides this, the great lyrics: "So they say you're a troubled boy, just because you like to destroy all the things that bring the idiots joy, but what's wrong with a little destruction?" And it has a la la section! No pop rock song can be complete without a la la hook. Oh, this song - how can it not give you an angry high?
This song takes a while to get going, starting with those sultry chords and characteristic raw guitar noise, and then the brittle vocals, atmospheric and unsettling. It's repetitive and absolutely mesmerising. It builds up half way through, until suddenly it rocks out into this maddeningly irresistable chant of "You got your dirty boots!" over the backing and then fades out into soft, gentle strumming. Heaven.
I couldn't decide whether to include this or London Calling, but everyone knows London Calling, so I decided to put this in instead. It's dark and it was so new when they released it - this fusion of reggae and rock, with those almost comic sound effects and samples. It captures a moment in time so perfectly; seventies London, down and outs being hunted down by the racist police, taking sides to survive.
Of course, the Babyshambles versus Dirty Pretty Things debate...I'll just add my two pence. Pete had the talent and the poetry, while Carl had the passion and the technical skill, in my opinion, although of course it's more complex than that. Neither follow-up band is good as The Libertines, but Babyshambles are better than Dirty Pretty Things. It's sad to think that the latter are gone now, as they did have something, but not quite the something that Babyshambles have. Take this track, Fuck Forever. He is just a master of choruses, no? This is not to be mistaken for background music; asymmetrical bar layouts, out-of-tune shouting and most of all, great great lyrics.
Parklife gained Blur their fame, though it is a little clean for me. This song is a standout though. The slightly on-edge synths and Damon's mocking, neutral tone. The chorus I especially love about it. The harmonies just work so well, and the way he puns on misery and mystery, and the last line which always trails so poignantly into the next chord sequence...
The Drop is not the best on the album Random Acts of Intimacy in my opinion, but it seems to be the one I'm listening to most. The beautiful guitar playing throughout, and the lovely lyric "The days fall slow, like summer rain" I just want to listen to over and over again. When it breaks down at 2:50 as well, into a softer quieter bit - that's pretty. Very pretty.
A'Rebours is a deliciously upbeat track, especially that bassline which comes in at the very start and dominates the rest. I love bands who make liberal use of tambourine. Also here, I know this is cheating, but I'd like to say 8 Dead Boys is worth a nod. It's Hellishly angry, clearly a jibe at former bandmates of Peter Doherty, but the guitar licks are very well-played and the emotion in it is so wonderfully breakable.
Yes I've been raiding my mum's CDs again, and yes I liked it. No More Heroes is a synth-punk masterpiece damning idolisation - or is it the words of a dissolute young man who has found all his heroes to be fools? A young man whose heroes have failed him? Of course it is told from a disdainful third person view, making it even more sneeringly great.
Is there anything happier than a ditty driven along by typical chords and a metronome? It's one of the little things I can never pin down, why a happy song like this sounds so happy - is it the major chords, the lyrics about friendship, the unusually great singing for Pete Doherty, or the little drum solo at the end? I don't know, but it really is so uplifting, and if you like the Don't Look Back Into the Sun side of the Libs, really check this out. "I'm still lining them up and knocking them down with you." ♥
This is my soothing choice - a soft, eerie folk song with a twist, it starts calmly, slowly, with instruments humming and an inverted dialogue of whispering in the background. It's the bass and the fiddle which do it for me: they are at odds, spooky, and give the relatively regular melody of the song a real edge. Looking for a more upbeat, political Levellers song? No? Well I s'pose you should be. See Social Insecurity.
I had the audacity to put way more than 10 song references in there. Oh well. I love all of them. Take a look, as ever, they are all worth a listen or ten. Hope you're having a good 2009 so far, wherever you are.