In the latest special issue of NME, we explore 501 lost songs that everyone should hear. Pick up a copy of the magazine for the full list, and listen to a selection of the tunes in this Spotify playlist. But if you’d like a preview, take a glance through this gallery for a few choice tracks.
Arctic Monkeys – ‘Curtains Close’: This rollicker was from the band’s ‘Beneath The Boadrwalk’ demos, the bootleg collection that first got the music world frothing about the band. Never officially released, this would have fitted snugly on their debut.
Radiohead – ‘Nobody Does It Better’: While much has been made of ‘Lotus Flower”s swooning intent, sweeping romanticism is even more evident in this cover of Carly Simon’s theme song to The Spy Who Loved Me. In some parallel world Radiohead is the perfect music for a first date.
Morrissey – ‘Let Me Kiss You’ (Nancy Sinatra): Moz reprises his role as an ethereal, choirboy-like backing vocalist around the two-minute mark, just before guitarist Alain Whyte turns in the most Johnny Marr-esque jangle of his career.
The Rolling Stones, ‘Empty Heart’: It showcases one of their earlierst Nanker Phelge compositions. It was later covered by MC5.
Blur, ‘Young And Lovely’: A Bowie-esque chugger sees Albarn’s songcraft getting even more complex. The key change-melting bridge is truly a thing of wonder.
The Libertines – ‘Smashing’: This is perhaps the greatest unreleased song of Pete and Carl’s. This version dates from the period they were demoing ‘Up The Bracket’ at Nomis Studios for Rough Trade. This Beatles-eque ballad is the definitive version.
The Vaccines – ‘Good Guys Don’t Wear White’: Justin Young may be no Ian MacKaye, but this cover sounds together, tauter and more nuanced than anything else in their arsenal. Listen to the Spotify playlist.
Chromatics – ‘Night Drive’: “It’s something that I can honestly put on at any time and it’s always got that same, really nice, sad, transporting sound to it,” says Romy Madley Croft from The xx.
The Kills – ‘Gypsy Death And You’: “The Kills were one of the first bands I discovered on my own. I had a proper obsession with them,” says The Courteeners’ Liam Fray. “Alison’s voice is just beautiful, and not enough people know about it.”
The Knife – ‘This Is Now’: “This song is euphoric but understated and subtle,” says Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe.
Bob Dylan – ‘Percy’s Song’: A beautiful narrative ballad, recorded for Dylan’s first album of solely original material. Here he tells of a friend’s conviction for manslaughter following a car crash (he got 99 years).
Steady B – ‘Let The Hustlers Play’: A wonderfully funky-in-the-old-sense slice of party hip-hop, but also significant, and not for all the right reasons. It represented a high point before his career began to tail off.
Oasis- ‘Strange Thing’: This is exactly the kind of tune that made Oasis so very special all those years ago, and it’s got one of the most beautiful vocals Liam Gallagher has drawled onto tape.
The White Stripes – ‘Candy Cane Children’: AKA the best Christmas single ever, Jack sings about how Christmas day merely means “three hundred and sixty four tears, girl.” Happy holidays! Listen to the Spotify playlist.
David Bowie – ‘Crystal Japan’: Anyone who’s been seduced by the instrumental LP sides of The Dame’s Berlin period will love this.
PJ Harvey – Claudine, The Inflatable One’:Faltering horns give the whole affair a Captain Beefheart-gone-cabaret strut, as Harvey rifles through bizarre, pervy preferences, all over lacerating grunge guitars and a lumbering Tom Waits-esque beat.
The Supremes – ‘Stoned Love’: It marks the transition from the ’60s to the ’70s. With the Funk Brothers as backup and Jean Terrell upfront, it’s still classic Supremes, with its rousing, chugging musicality and soft candyfloss, perfectly plated-up vocals.
Tangerine Dream – ‘Birth Of Liquid Plejades’: A churning mood piece that stretches to nearly 20 minutes, this track opened the band’s third album ‘Seit’ with no discernable rhythm or melodies. Moving through a discordantly droning cello quartet to stately organ, and finally into a swirling synth section, this is uncompromosing and essential.
Marilyn Manson – ‘Burning Flag’: Dribbling out late on, the track is a cacophony of drum machines and a riff so industrial it could cut steel. Add in Manson’s paranoid vocals and a killer chorus, and you have one of the shock rocker’s best moments ever.
Lou Bond – ‘To The Establishment’: The 11-minute song is a genuine epic, complete with strings from the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and later sampled by OutKast, Mary J Blige and The Prodigy. Listen to the Spotify playlist.
The Verve – ‘I See The Door’: The second single from ‘A Northern Soul”s flip was better, and darker, than its A-side. ‘I See The Door’ remains one of The Verve’s finest moments.
Suzi Quatro – ’48 Crash’: “’48 Crash’ is so so great,” says Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie. “All of Primal Scream, we love [Gary] Glitter we love [Marc] Bolan, we love [Roxy] Music – and we love Suzi Quatro. What The Beatles were for people in the ’60s is what glam rock was for us. Basically, we love glam.”
Ultravox!, ‘Young Savage’: This is the song which invited the most gobbing – ironic, given it was a critique of the kids in the punk scene. Listen to the Spotify playlist.
Neil Young – ‘Crime In The City (Sixty To Zero Part 1)’: There’s a version of this on the 1989 album ‘Freedom’, but if you can track it doen, the full live version is the one you’re after. The arrangement, which was played live with The Bluenotes only a handful of times, nearly doubles the length of this brilliant song and gives it space to grow into something else entirely.
Bananarama, ‘Cruel Summer’: This was their best effort, memorable because it was a genuinely moving pop record, a quality piece of work that you never thought you were gonna get from the girls who did ‘Shy Boy’ and ‘Robert De Niro’s Waiting’.