About six weeks ago, after listening to the wonder that is They Might Be Giants’ ‘Fingertips’ (essentially a series of twenty one songs ranging from 4 seconds to a minute and a half in length), I thought it might be a great idea to list a whole bunch of other short songs that still warrant recognition. So, I made the list, asked a bunch of friends on Facebook for their thoughts and despite a big reaction, the post kind of fizzled out. I guess if you look through this blog you see massive gaps in time – that’s just how it works I’m afraid.
Anyway, for anyone that can be bothered, this is the top 10 list I was going to talk about and link to etc…
PAUL MCCARTNEY – Ram On (Reprise) (55s)
NUMBER ONE CUP – ‘Til Tuesday (52s)
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS – Minimum Wage (46s)
LAWNMOWER DETH – Drunk In Charge Of An Ugly Face (33s)
GUIDED BY VOICES – Cigarette Tricks (19s)
BRAKES – Hi How Are You? (38s)
BRITISH SEA POWER – Men Together Today (42s)
DEUS – Shake Your Hip (42s)
EL GUAPO – Super/Stition (50s)
DELICATESSEN – Appeased (54s)
But I’m not going to bother with that now – let’s take a look at some epics instead. Here are a few of my top looooong songs;
MIKE OLDFIELD – Tubular Bells pt.ii (23m21s)
I’ve no doubt talked about the influence that Tubular Bells had on me as a nipper elsewhere on this blog, and incessantly down the pub too. The whole record is a joy and despite Oldfield constantly trying to update it ever since – usually to horrifying effect – the original is still by far and away the best. Side B just about wins it by a nose thanks to the bizarre vocal half way through and the fact that it closes with the Sailor’s Hornpipe. There’s a photo of me somewhere with a massive pair of 1970s cans on my head, listening intently. Probably in the attic. Along with the cans.
SUPER FURRY ANIMALS – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck (Live) (22m31s)
Given a somewhat muted release in 2004, this version adds approximately 34 new dimensions to the original that was released several years before. Opening with a loop from a Bill Hicks stand-up routine it continues with a rollocking version of the original. But rather than fade at the end of the song, we’re treated to nigh on 13 minutes of blissful techno from the more than capable hands of Cian Ciaran (who has since proved himself to be more than a songwriting match for frontman Gruff Rhys). The song then does in fact fade out with the ‘you know they don’t give a fuck about anybody else’ refrain, but even that takes 7 minutes. Definitely a highlight of an incredibly impressive back-catalogue.
GODSPEED! YOU BLACK EMPEROR – Mladic (20m00s)
Pure class. One of the tunes of the decade. Once play is pressed, it is impossible to stop listening. The album possibly still maintains the number one position on the Music Geek Monthly table two years since its release, and rightly so. The final three minutes (not trying to make you skip or anything) is some seriously crescendo building genius. Sadly, I’ve only managed to see G!YBE twice; the latest being 6 years prior to them starting to perform it live.
PROLAPSE – Flex (15m07s)
This one is a bit of a cheat because the recorded version of the song isn’t all that great, frankly. Anyone lucky enough to have seen them perform it live however, as I tried to do as often as possible in the mid-late 1990s, will probably inform you that it was the highlight of their set and that they indeed blew any bands they were playing with right off the stage; no matter who they were. I miss Prolapse.
LOW – Born By The Wires (13m27s)
As bleak as they come; definitely not one to listen to if your dog has run away or if you feel aggrieved at something that happened at a recent family gathering. Fragile vocals drift over Low’s trademark slow, brooding instrumentation for the first half of the song before it takes a turn for the haunting. A series of single, strummed guitar/bass dischords is pretty much all you’re getting for the final 7 minutes. The best song to close a horror film you’re unlikely to find.
So, there you go. That’s five of them; there are loads more but there’s over an hour and a half’s worth of listening right there. I’ll no doubt revisit this whole subject again, especially as I didn’t include any Underworld or Tortoise songs.
Or Panda Bear.
Or Jon Hopkins.