100 Best Songs of the 1970s 40 – 31

100 Best Songs of the 1970s | NME.COM.

40 The Knack – ‘My Sharona

Released: June 1979

Well, it deserves its place if only for – allegedly – inspiring Girls Aloud’s second single ‘No Good Advice‘. Otherwise LA band The Knack’s debut single is the one memorable note of an on-off 30-year career, a Mike Chapman (of Blondie fame) production with a spiky riff that punkifies the power pop and pushed the track all the way to a Billboard No.1.

39 Bee Gees – ‘Stayin’ Alive’

Released: November 1977

It’s unlikely you can listen to this without seeing the brothers Gibb swinging fearlessly around a building site or John Travolta strutting down the urban catwalk, but at a few decades’ remove ‘Stayin’ Alive’ is an astonishing record even without the iconography. A peerless piece of disco drama that almost sent a career into parody – but hey, they sure got rich.

38 Sex Pistols – ‘Anarchy In The UK

Released: November 1976

The Sex Pistols‘ first single was bundled out within weeks of their signing by an EMI keen to strike while the phlegm was flying. ‘Anarchy In The UK’ was – and is – an incendiary blast of noise, spite and fury, a suitable overture and a sneering threat to a quaking establishment. It wasn’t long before they were drafted onto Thames Television’s Today show, just in time to swear at Bill Grundy.

37 Iggy And The Stooges – ‘Search And Destroy’

Released: February 1973

In which we learned Iggy Pop was “a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm”. To be honest, we had a hunch. The Bowie-sponsored Stooges were on a hiding to nothing as far as cold hard cash was concerned but with sweaty, steely rawk like ‘Search And Destroy’ they would reveal their hand as dodgy uncles of punk.

36 Sly And The Family Stone – ‘Family Affair’

Released: November 1971

A supergroup on the (ahem) sly, this, as Stone ditched the Family and drafted in soul legends Bobby Womack and Billy Preston on guitar and Rhodes piano respectively. Sly’s sister Rose sticks around for some counterpoint vocals but this is the great man’s own show – most memorable for his purring lead, least memorable for being sampled on Deacon Blue’s 1991 single ‘Closing Time’.

35 Gladys Knight And The Pips – ‘Midnight Train To Georgia’

Released: August 1973

“Woo-woo!” The Pips’ deathless contribution to one of Gladys Knight’s best loved tunes is an impression of a steam train. All the rest of the song’s swinging soul power is down to Knight’s convincing devotion to a man whose dreams of LA stardom have gone tits up, and Jim Weatherly‘s less-is-more lyric: “I’d rather live in his world than live without him in mine”. Devastating.

34 Rod Stewart – ‘Maggie May’

Released: May 1971

Rod the Mod’s first solo No.1 wasn’t even supposed to be an A-side but it only took a fortnight for it to elbow ‘Reason To Believe’ off the front of the disc. The mandolin – played by Ray Jackson, not John Peel who mimed on Top Of The Pops – was a big factor, but it’s Rod’s throaty rasp and bawdy tale of a young chap mixed up with an older woman that give the song its lasting character.

33 Marvin Gaye – ‘What’s Going On’

Released: January 1971

The title track to Marvin Gaye’s conscious-soul masterpiece was nothing less than a gamechanger. Marking a shocking desertion of his more trad Motown work, it gave label boss Berry Gordy the heebee-geebees, but commercially speaking, worked a treat. The single went to No.2 in the States, the album to the top of NME’s all-time albums list in 1985.

32 Black Sabbath – ‘Paranoid’

Released: August 1970

Back when heavy metal could make the Top 5 in the UK, Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ cemented itself in the national psyche and became an anthem Ozzy Osbourne’s never quite been able to shake off. With good reason: Ozzy’s on fine – albeit incomprehensible – form, Tony Iommi sets the riff to ‘bludgeon’ and Geezer Butler and Bill Ward keep that rhythm section galloping. Heads down, everyone.

31 Television – ‘Marquee Moon’

Released: February 1977

Television didn’t quite have the punk knack. A 10-minute single? That’s the short sharp shock defined. Still, they brought something new the table with their muso chops and – specifically – the spellbinding guitar interplay between Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. First they fire off taut licks at each other, later they solo all over the joint, and ‘Marquee Moon’ never gets boring.

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