by Luke Irwin
Ending World War II, landing on the moon, steak dinners: they all pale in comparison to the crowning achievement in humanity – the ultimate album, comprised of the best songs from each album track position. As always, my only rules are each song must appear in its original album position, and the same artist can’t appear twice. Please find Parts I, II & III for songs 1-9.
Honourable mentions: A Rush Of Blood To The Head – Coldplay, Africa – Toto,
To say I disliked Coldplay would be something of an understatement; however, there is no denying that they managed at least one good album. Sort of. While The Scientist might be the most overrated song in humanity the rest of the album is excellent, with A Rush Of Blood To The Head standing out.
Toto’s Africa is the only song on this list that I don’t own, either in physical or digital form. There’s something about not being able to listen to a song any time of day or night that’s very alluring. For one, whenever it comes on the radio it seems like a special event – a “screw everyone else, this is going up to 11” moment. But while Toto is a very “single” kind of track, my eventual choice for Track 10 is a perfect album song:
Track 10: I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Cosmo’s Factory, 1970)
While I previously made a point of saying that this is a subjective list, anyone who says Jimi Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower is the best ever cover version is wrong. Not least because Django van Leewan and Candy Dulfer did a saxophone-heavy version; but either way Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine is brimming with so much soul, blues and rock you fear the song may well explode all over your face like a pimple of awesomeness.
Marvin Gaye couldn’t have done a much better job with the song he himself covered from Smokey Robinson, but Creedence found a way. And that way was an eight-minute long jamming session smack bang in the middle.
Honourable mentions: Texas Rose Café – Little Feat
Texas Rose Café has been described by some as one of Little Feat’s “lost” classics. Because barely a day goes by when you walk down the street and the crowds of people aren’t talking about their favourite Little Feat songs. As a song it reminds me a lot of the song that I picked over it; they’re both slow-building, nostalgic album closers, and make for fantastic summer listening.
Track 11: Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide – David Bowie (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, 1972)
“Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth…” Unlike with most songs, I distinctly remember the first time I heard Rock and Roll Suicide; I was goofing off on a hot summer afternoon, one of the last school days before the end of term, and I was in the middle of an epic two-hour long Tetris marathon. Yes, there was absolutely nothing that wasn’t cool about that moment.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide is the conclusion to Bowie’s epic concept album, detailing the career of fictional rock star Ziggy Stardust. But while Ziggy may be fading away as a performer the song only grows – from a single guitar and brooding voice of Bowie into a cacophony of sound and screams of “you’re not alone!”
Honourable mention: Vogue – Madonna
Yes. And what of it? An awesome bassline, intelligent lyrics and a Blondie-esque verse of rapping; what more could you ask for? Vogue is to pop what Sympathy To The Devil is to rock; there is absolutely nothing that isn’t perfect about this song. It’s all the more surprising then that Vogue was something of an afterthought, originally recorded as a B-side to Keep It Together. It was only with the studio’s insistence that it was released as a single and has since become perhaps her most iconic song.
However, it’s for that reason that it doesn’t make my list; it was shoehorned into her 1991 album I’m Breathless, completely out of place. At the best of times Madonna’s songs aren’t suited for album form, and Vogue in particular should never have been an album-closer. Fact – Lauren Bacall is the only celebrity mentioned in the song who’s still alive. Fred Astaire had been the only one of nine celebrities who was already dead at the time of its recording.
Track 12: Champagne Supernova – Oasis ((What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, 1995)
Given the fact that Oasis failed to release anything decent after The Masterplan in 1998 it’s easy to forget what a good band they were, and while Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger are often mentioned as their best songs, Champagne Supernova is my personal favourite, and has to be considered as one of the better closing songs to any album.
Apparently the song has been condemned for its ridiculous lyrics but it seems clear enough that the song is, at least in part, about Noel Gallagher blaming his father for his own reckless behaviour after his Dad abandoned the family as a child. Liam Gallagher, often inconsistent on vocals, does his brother’s lyrics service while the music grows into them, culminating in a grand conclusion to the first album I ever bought.
So there we have it, perhaps the perfect album (but probably not):
1. It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) – AC/DC
2. Aren’t You Glad – The Beach Boys
3. Gangsta’s Paradise – Coolio feat. L.V.
4. Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock) – Bob Marley & The Wailers
5. Lithium – Nirvana
6. Take The Long Way Home – Supertramp
7. (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) – The Beastie Boys
8. Jungleland – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
9. April Come She Will – Simon & Garfunkel
10. I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Creedence Clearwater Revival
11. Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide – David Bowie
12. Champagne Supernova – Oasis