10 Wings – ‘Band On The Run’
Released: June 1974
Widely thought of as the highlight of McCartney‘s post-Beatles career, ‘Band On The Run’s title track shows up Macca’s skill for elaborate but still-catchy songcraft. Written and recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, it’s the whimsical tale of a beat combo escaping incarceration, building from a dreamy beginning into a funked-up strut layered with horns and sunny melodies.
9 Michael Jackson – ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’
Released: July 1979
The real Jacko was born here, plotting the future course of soul, pop, R&B, you name it, with visionary producer Quincy Jones. Quite what all the stuff about “the force” is about is anyone’s guess – well, Star Wars, probably – but the ecstatic swirling strings and Jackson’s trademark hiccups and “wooo”s are too exciting to give a fig about anything else.
8 Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born To Run’
Released: August 1975
The Boss was going for the “greatest rock’n’roll record ever” and who’s to say he didn’t pull it off? A blend of innuendo – “strap your hands across my engines” – runaway sax from Clarence Clemons and full Wall Of Sound cacophony from the E Street Band, ‘Born To Run’ is a chest-bursting tour de force that even survived a Frankie Goes To Hollywood cover.
7 Blondie – ‘Heart Of Glass’
Released: September 1978
‘Heart Of Glass’ had been kicking around since it was a demo called ‘Once I Had A Love’ in 1975 but Blondie found the courage to release their disco record once they were established on the chart scene. For a new wave band playing with dance, it’s a first-time winner. The pulse is spot-on, although apparently a nightmare to record, and Debbie Harry is a natural disco siren.
Released: May 1977
Donna Summer’s second collaboration with Giorgio Moroder – after the interminable disco lustfest ‘Love To Love You Baby‘ in 1975 – is a record with the sort of insignificance that cannot be understated. So let’s not understate it. ‘I Feel Love’ is one of the earliest purely synthetic recordings, the very first house record and the future in an orgasmic space-age nutshell.
Released: April 1976
On one side of New York you had Television recording 10-minute new wave opuses, on the other The Ramones getting their pop thrash over in a couple of minutes. ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ is a strip of bubblegum in punk clothing, its churning guitars rolling around Joey Ramone‘s slurring vocals as the band set a template for punk’s rock’n’roll revival.
4 David Bowie – ‘Heroes’
Released: September 1977
Written by Bowie with Brian Eno, ‘”Heroes”‘ is a gorgeous, howling tribute to love in all its proud defiance – and specifically to the snog between producer Tony Visconti and his new, secret girlfriend. Bowie reportedly stood at the back of the room to get that distant shout just right in the song’s final third as he battles for space with Robert Fripp’s wonderful distorted guitar.
3 The Clash – ‘London Calling’
Released: December 1979
The Clash always had a message to impart and what better than a bug-eyed apocalyptic warning? The “nuclear error” at Three Mile Island in the States could happen here too and Joe Strummer wanted us to know, driving the point home with those choppy guitars and vulpine howls. Finishing with a radio signal, this is the World Service in a time of terror.
2 Fleetwood Mac – ‘Go Your Own Way’
Released: December 1976
Written by Lindsey Buckingham about his disintegrating relationship with bandmate and girlfriend Stevie Nicks, ‘Go Your Own Way’ channels desperation and heartbreak into one of rock’s most memorable choruses. The group’s first Top 10 in the US, it propelled their album ‘Rumours’ into the charts, and has since been covered by everyone from Boy George to NOFX.
1 Sex Pistols – ‘God Save The Queen’
Released: May 1977
Glen Matlock’s last appearance on a Sex Pistols record is, funnily enough, a bit overshadowed by all the other hoo-ha circling about. This searing, sneering shot of snot-nosed rebellion would’ve made a perfect No.1 for the Queen’s silver jubilee, but was conveniently pipped by Rod Stewart’s ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’. Or was it? Over to the conspiracy theorists.