The 1970s were when icons were born. With the groundwork for a new sense of aesthetic and personal freedom laid in the swinging 60s, people experimented with their sound, look and entire persona in more and more extreme ways. In London there was punk, with The Sex Pistols and The Clash leading a tribe of pierced, leather-clad young upstarts that stuck two fingers up to the establishment. In New York there was the CBGBs scene of unattainable, insouciant cool. From somewhere in space landed David Bowie and Marc Bolan - two otherworldly angels at the forefront of glam rock. The 70s didn't do things by halves; relive the magic with the decade's 100 key tracks. Words: Dan Martin, Matthew Horton, Priya Elan, Tim Chester.

50The Cramps - 'Human Fly'

Produced by Big Star’s Alex Chilton, this was a grotty slice of swamp rock, featuring Poison Ivy’s vine-creeping guitar and Lux Interior’s guzzling vocals uniting to create a two-minute goth-rock diamond.

49The Clash - 'Train In Vain'

'London Calling''s catchy, wheezing closer was hardly meant to be there. In fact, it was destined for an NME flexidisc but never arrived – instead it was tacked onto The Clash's meisterwerk after the sleeve had gone to the printer, making it an unintentional hidden track. Your CD cover lists it now, as do the credits for Garbage's 1996 hit 'Stupid Girl'.

48Bob Dylan - 'Tangled Up In Blue'

The chiming first track on Dylan's marriage-dissecting 'Blood On The Tracks' is a surreal, jump-cutting tale of a relationship from soup to nuts. Crammed with detail – "Working for a while on a fishing boat/Right outside of Delacroix" – none of it directly referencing the failure of his marriage to Sara Lowndes, it nevertheless has a personal quality. And his Bobness sings pretty nicely too.

47Fleetwood Mac - 'Dreams'

Simple, pretty and aimed like a laser at Lindsey Buckingham's guilty conscience, 'Dreams' was written by Stevie Nicks as everyone's marriages and relationships fell to rack and ruin around the recording of AOR phenomenon 'Rumours'. It doesn't do a great deal but is mesmeric as it needles away, persuading its target to have a damn good think about "what you lost".

46Gang Of Four - 'Damaged Goods'

The lead track from Gang Of Four's debut EP boasts a riff that could slice through a particularly strong girder, the coldest funk this side of Prince & The Refrigeration and a seedy little lyric about ending an affair that's become a bit wearing on the physical side. Jon King and Andy Gill trade vocals with all the soul of George Osborne. Brilliant.

45Blondie - 'Hanging On The Telephone'

One hell of an album opener. Blondie's 1978 classic 'Parallel Lines' blams into life with 'Hanging On The Telephone', a pummeling war horse of a track written in 1973 by Jack Lee but first surfacing on his band The Nerves' debut EP in 1976. Blondie's version is strung-out, pleading and strident, and it's impossible to ignore Debbie Harry' siren call.

44Deep Purple - 'Smoke On The Water'

A story as legendary as the song's four-note riff, 'Smoke On The Water' was inspired by the, er, smoke floating over Lake Geneva while Deep Purple were recording in their mobile studio. It came from a Frank Zappa gig at the Montreux Casino that caught fire when some chump fired a flare gun, the blaze now forever commemorated by inept guitarists trying to ape Ritchie Blackmore's axework.

43Dolly Parton - 'Jolene'

Dolly Parton's signature smash actually limped to a mere No.60 in the States but it endures as an oddly jaunty plea to the titular stunner to leave Dolly's man alone, even though she could take him any time she likes. There's no artifice here – which is Parton's main strength. However brassy and unreal she can be, she's never less than pure-hearted. Later covered by the White Stripes.

42T. Rex - 'Get It On'

There's a rice paper's difference between each T. Rex riff, isn't there? But who gives a hoot when Marc Bolan can clip them as funky as his work on 'Get It On', a chart-chomping monster of an effort that helped form the foundations of T. Rex's annexation of Britain's No.1 spot. Covered to lumpen effect by Robert Palmer/Duran Duran/Chic supergroup Power Station in 1985.

41The Rolling Stones - 'Tumbling Dice'

All 'Exile On Main Street''s grubby cool is scrunched up into this UK Top 5 hit as Keith Richards plays a riff so loose its trousers are around its ankles and Mick Jagger drawls nonsense about "gambling love". In actual fact, 'Tumbling Dice' had been kicking around for years before its 'Exile' completion, only worked into shape once Mick Taylor had been booted off lead.

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