Released: September 1978
One of Blondie’s finest, down to its nursery rhyme simplicity, skipping along on with giddy new wave swagger. Like most of ‘Parallel Lines’, its pure pop rush is addictive, so much so that it quite disguises the fact that Debbie Harry is actually behaving like a nightmare stalker. And one that it would be foolish to try and resist.
Released: November 1979
In which Paul Weller declares holy class war through the medium of awesome Moddish new wave. As the 70s juddered to a close, the divisions in society were becoming more prominent, and The Jam’s fiery broadside tells a bitter tale of coming off worst after a brawl with some poshos, because indeed, “all that rugby puts hair on your chest.” David Cameron, missing the point, professed to love it.
Released: July 1973
One of the seeds from which all of punk rock would grow thereafter. The opening shot from the Dolls’ awesome debut, here was all the nihilism and noise that would make the genre great distilled into three and a half minutes, and delivered with ultimate sex appeal.
Released: February 1970
Lennon’s third solo single saw his overarching message and peace and goodness shine through more profoundly than anywhere else. And this giddy, bouncing anthem is uplifting enough for you not to bother questioning what karma hitting you on the head actually feel like? Up there with the best songs Lennon ever wrote.
Released: April 1978
The best pure pop song to emerge from the punk movement, period. And very possibly the most uplifting song about heroin addiction ever, if you’re into that kind of thing (which clearly is not a good idea). After the euphoric highs of this song, Peter Perrett did the cold turkey so you didn’t have to, while fellow drug enthusiasts The Libertines also did a notable cover of the track several decades later.
Released: February 1972
Criticised by Dylan for sounding too much like him and later by Young himself for putting him slap-bang in the middle of the road, ‘Heart Of Gold’ nontheless glimmers like a diamond. A towering anthem for the singer/songwriter genre (James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt did the backing vocals), this was country-rock loveliness incarnate, Young’s quivering vocals atop lilting pedal steel guitar.
Released: January 1974
He’d soon depart this singer/songwriter terrain for more ambient territory, but the opener from ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’ was an exuberant slice of post-Roxy Music solo power. A clanging, multi-layered, Velvet Underground-aping thumper which would influence his Berlin experiments with Bowie and a decade of synth/sonic exploration.
Released: August 1979
Of course there was no “Nigel”. Instead, bassist Colin Moulding wrote of his dad attempting to make his son get his “hair cut and stay on at school”. This theme of parental domination fits perfectly with the urgency of the music - part new wave muscle, part very British ska-ish funk workout. Beneath XTC's wonky pop exterior lay one of the most experimental groups of the decade.
Released: August 1978
To a generation of young pups it’s known as the ‘the song from CSI’ but to those blissfully unaware of the cop franchise, this track found Pete Townshend contemplating life as a '60s counterculture legend in the face of punk. Referencing a meeting with the Sex Pistols, Townshend had a key moment of self reflection all the while his band busted out a madcap mix of funk and honest-to-god rock'n'roll.
Released: December 1977
A floating slice of No Wave from Alan Vega and Martin Rev. The mix of ecstatic, ebbing industrial noise and noose-like keyboard sounds that vibrated forth from the legendary New York scuzz rock duo would go on to influence a generation of dark and brooding gunslingers including The Horrors and MIA (who would sample the track on her ‘Born Free’ single).