My Personal Top 20 Songs (Part 2)

Continuing with the list. Keep in mind that these are in semi-random order…

6. M – Pop Muzik (12″ Mix) – source: 12″ single (1979)
A friend of mind had this single when we were around 9 or 10, and the whole concept of it blew my mind. Here was a full-sized 12″ record, but you played it at 45 RPM, and there was only one song. The idea of an extended remix was also new to me, since Duran Duran wasn’t a thing yet. Two things in my life probably came from this particular song. First, becoming a DJ a few short years later, collecting my own 12″ singles and playing them in front of hundreds of people. Second, deciding that saxophone was my instrument of choice in school band. There are so many odd connections in my life to this particular song that I could write a book. The short version: This song is at the start of side one of the first blank cassette I bought, the first song I burned to CD-ROM, and the first track transferred to blank MiniDisc. The reason I bought a MiniDisc recorder was to bootleg U2 shows when I knew I was finally going to see them, after totally missing the ZooTV tour. I saw (and booted) 4 shows on the PopMart tour, in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Minneapolis, and Montreal. Guess what the opening “hype music” for that whole tour was, as U2 came on stage? U2 – PopMart Intro (Mexico City) What an awesome song too, by the way. I never, ever get tired of it.

7. Mark Snow – The X-Files Theme – source: too many to list (1993, 1996 extended version)
If you’ve seen my CD shelf, you might notice that down near the end, there a whole section for ‘X’ that has tons of versions of X-Files theme remixes, and X-Files music. To my knowledge, I have all the X-Files music that’s ever been released, even the rare, numbered multi-CD box sets with hours and hours of score queues. Music in movies, tv shows, and video games has always been something I pay extremely close attention to, and everything Mark Snow creates raises the bar for what “background music” could be. I’ve done a number of covers of the X-Files Theme itself, but generally, I often find myself thinking “how would Mark Snow approach this?” when I’m working on particular types of composition. Asides: Whenever I get my hands on a keyboard with a good piano sound, one of the first things I do is set up a stereo delay on it, so I can play the theme on it. Also, I love songs that have a strong 12/16 meter superimposed on top of a standard 4/4, which this song is a prime example of.

8. Nazareth – This Flight Tonight – source: Loud ‘n’ Proud (1973)
This is one of the first songs I loved as a little kid, and if you’ve read my Intro post on this blog, you know that story. It was my introduction, specifically, to what I call the “galloping bass”, which is simply playing on the 1st, 3rd and 4th 16th notes in every quarter measure. That galloping bass kills me every time, and I love most songs I’ve ever heard that use it. I also love the total meter change at around 2:15 (the “doo-wop” section), the haunting guitar wailing, and the relentless hi-hats.

9. New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle (Shep Pettibone Remix) – source: 12″ single (1986)/ Substance 1987
Surprise! This song has that “galloping bass” too. I loved playing this song as a DJ, and it was what I call “intelligent dance music”. I’ve covered this song, and what a project! This song taught me a lot about drum machine programming, synth sound crafting, sequencing, and especially the importance of stereo placement. Every sound in this song moves. And those sounds! This song has the best use of a vocoder I’ve ever heard, and I almost convinced myself to build one (I had schematics for it) just because of it. An interesting thing I discovered about this song is that the chords in the chorus, while seemingly simple, are definitely not. There are two sounds playing entirely different chords that should clash horribly, but don’t. When I was figuring out that part of the song, and just playing those chords together by themselves, I kept thinking “that can’t possibly be right, can it?”…but it is. Last, but not least, my singing voice, as I’ve been told, and honestly believe, is extremely similar to Bernard Sumner, so I can sing this and other New Order songs very well.

10. Peter Frampton – Do You Feel Like We Do – source: Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)
Once of the greatest concert performances/recordings of all time. I have a surround sound mix of this on DVD-A that is even more incredible. Of course, the talking guitar is the biggest highlight of the song. I also love the decision to fully integrate the sound of the crowd into the recording, making it so immersive. The keyboard solo, by Bob Mayo, from around 4:10 to 5:35 is, well, inspiring and depressing at the same time. After years of trying, I know that I’m just physically incapable of playing that well. Still, it gives me something to strive for.

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