Six Of The Best is a semi-regular feature that pokes, prods and persuades your favourite bands, bards and barometers of hip opinion to tell us six of the best tracks they’ve ever heard. The tracks could be mainstream million-sellers or they could be obfuscatingly obscure, it doesn’t matter. The only criteria set is that, aye, they must be Six of the Best. Think of it like a mini, groovier version of Desert Island Discs…
Number 2 in a series:
FAST CARS – BUZZCOCKS
If you could encapsulate everything good about my teenage years into a couple of minutes, this would be it (especially if you included the instrumental revamp of Buzzcocks’ Boredom that leads into this song). The shiny, silver sound of my favourite punk band with a Pete Shelley vocal and a Howard Devoto lyric, opening one of my favourite albums and managing to be both ecologically sound and sneery at the same time. I could and will and do listen to it all day.
SOUND AND VISION – DAVID BOWIE
I am slightly rooted in the late 70s. I love all David Bowie, but this bizarre song, self-obsessed and croony, which only becomes a song halfway through, is a swinging classic. Mary Hopkin on backing vocals! These things matter.
GO WEST – PET SHOP BOYS
Music journalists (the good ones anyway) love songs that are made of ideas. This one is an idea that makes you cry. The original by Village People is an OK disco song about moving to San Francisco in the 1970s to live the gay dream. The Pet Shop Boys turned it into a requiem for the people who did that just in time to meet the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. It’s the saddest song ever to become a terrace anthem, and proof – again – that pop is the best vehicle for intelligence and emotion in music.
FORGOT ABOUT DRE – EMINEM
Eminem’s combination of all kinds of loathing – but most of all self-loathing – makes him more of an existentialist hero than most rappers, which makes this brilliant single even sweeter, as it’s a message of love to Dr Dre, the producer who recognized Eminem’s talents and made them both international stars. I could listen to Dre and Eminem all day and this song makes that easy to do.
REVOLUTION 9 – THE BEATLES
I wrote a book about the Beatles’ White Album, which was reviewed by Ian MacDonald, the author of Revolution In The Head, the definitively definitive Beatle book. It was the equivalent of being in Mumford and Sons and having Bob Dylan, Ewan MacColl and Fairport Convention come and see you. Ian MacDonald called my book “inessential at best”, which was a bit painful, but when trying to find something positive to say, he did at least say I’d made a case for this track, the epic sound collage that most Beatles fans try and skip. And I do genuinely love Revolution 9. My friends would quote bits of it, and even now Yoko whispering, “You become naked…” or Lennon listing various dances in a comic Northern accent or the EMI engineer chanting, “Number 9…. Number 9…” is as much part of my catchphrase vocabulary as anything else. It’s not a song, but a forest to lose yourself in.
BAT OUT OF HELL – MEAT LOAF
Another one from the late 70s, but you are now what you heard when you were then. And while there are millions of songs I love, I played this last night again so it’s in my head. I’ve owned the album this is on about five times. I used to sell it every so often because it was so uncool. But now I just acknowledge my love for it. Meat Loaf is part Rocky Horror, part Bruce Springsteen, part teen romance and all sturm und drang. Todd Rundgren makes motorbike noises on a guitar. Meat Loaf sings like a teenage demon. Jim Steinman writes the best rock lyrics, in that they can be dirty and silly and innocent and knowing all at once. But when Meat sings, “Baby, you’re the only thing in this whole that’s pure and good and right,” I become emotional in at least six ways.
Every Six Of the Best compilation comes in a handy RAR download file. Get David Quantick’s here.
Coming next in this series – Six Of the Best from Teenage Fanclub’s Gerry Love.