Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Fri 3rd Jul, 2009

Paul's top ten songs

Pia's post of her top ten songs has made me think about what ten songs I consider most memorable - things that have really changed my life.

  1. Quench - Dreams. The first one is easy - this was the song that turned my ears to trance and techno. I'd been sort of imitating this style of in my head, and irritating my brother by doing it 'beatbox' style, for years; it was like there was techno in there but it hadn't discovered what it was yet. Then I heard Dreams on Triple J and it nailed me to the spot. I listened to this album again recently and it's still a brilliant and powerful fusion of good beats and killer analog synth lines. The "Dreams 2001" remake and the Hybrid remix of Miss Shiva's rework of this classic are great, but the original is still the best.
  2. beXta - Rhythm Gun. It was the afternoon before going to my first rave; I was listening to 4ZZZ's "Crucial Cuts" programme and they had an interview with beXta, who was playing that night. This mind-pounding, rip-snorting raver started up and in that moment I knew I was going to have an awesome time at the rave. One little secret I feel I can let go of now: the second time I was at a rave and beXta was playing, there was a sort of mini-stage beside her that a couple of people were dancing on; they didn't seem to be choreographed or dressed up or anything. So when "Rhythm Gun" came on I got up on that stage and danced, raising my hands in the air with the chords. I got off the stage after, feeling embarrassed, but if I hadn't got up there I'd have spent a lifetime regretting it.
  3. Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygene II. It took me a while to track this down in high school, but then I played it until the tape wore out. I listened to this album recently too and it still amazes me - it's so sonically dense yet it has this great sense of space, and the melody line is just so instantly recognisable. How did he make those -- those -- those amazing rippling, wooshing, stereo-sweeping sounds?
  4. Mike Oldfield - Crises. A classic album in its own right, with "Moonlight Shadow" being Oldfield's one mainstream hit, but the twenty minute title piece has some brilliant lead lines and has this dark, story- laden feel. The first and second themes and their reprises - in particular the sequencer + delay line section toward the end which builds and builds and builds... musical genius. It was this album that got me started with Mike Oldfield - the second was Incantations, which is another wonderful album. Crises, however, was the one that my friends recognised and liked too.
  5. Yello - The Rhythm Divine. Off the brilliant and inspiring album "One Second", each piece holds up in its own right, from the wonderfully atmospheric "La Habanera" and "Goldrush" to the instrumental story-telling of "Hawaiian Chance" and "Si Senor The Hairy Grill" (wtf?). But "The Rhythm Divine", with Shirley Bassey's liquid vocals, grabs you right in the heart and tugs. The last chorus, when she just continues effortlessly up the scale, gets me every time. This is one of those tracks for me that defines musicality and expression (over, some might argue, my other preferences).
  6. Tangerine Dream - Logos. I remember going into the record store in Indooroopilly Shopping Town with some spare money and looking for this band called "Tangerine Dream" that a friend had mentioned I might like, if I liked Jarre and Vangelis and so forth. This was a total risk - I had no idea what I should buy - so I figured a concert album would probably be a good bet. Unlike some of my other purchases before and since, this was an absolute winner - it's classic analogue-era TD: melodic brilliance, moving chord progressions, and a pulsing beat that refuses to be stopped. Like "Oxygene II", compilation albums often cut this short but it must be listened to in full length just for the atmosphere. I also found a good friend of mine had been in the audience at that show - I could only say "Wow!"
  7. Art Of Trance - Madagascar. Another chance encounter - in the departure hall in Heathrow Terminal 3, spending the long hours between 5PM (when I finished work at BAA) and 11PM (when my flight departed) I was browsing around looking for something to listen to. I espied the "Platipus Beginners' Guide" and recognised the label as one that published several tracks I had enjoyed in the past. I stuck this in my CD player and never regretted it the whole flight home, particular "Bluebottle" by POB and "Rock Rose" by Star, and in fact the whole second disc is an ambient classic. But it was a particularly significant flight for me for other, personal reasons, and I remember listening to "Madagascar" in the last hour of the flight, as I espied Toowoomba and Redland Bay and the familiar landscape of my home town pivoted under me. The driving pulses of the main theme felt like they were pushing the plane on, and I really wanted to be home...
  8. Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer. What's not to like? A driving song, easy to sing along to, and a video clip by Aardman Animations. This track has cheered me up on some dark days, but it's hard to explain exactly how I relate to the lyrics.
  9. Kate Bush vs Infusion - Running Up That Road. I rarely frequent record stores, but I occasionally go in just to look around and present the appearance of a DJ. So imagine my surprise when I found a limited-release single by Infusion, remixing one of Kate Bush's more memorable pieces, in the 'miscellaneous' bin. The B side is simply blank and there's no record label details or anything - that's how rare this record is. It's this kind of gem turning up in the mullock heap that makes all those other crappy purchases all worth while.
  10. Vangelis and Jon Anderson - I'll Find My Way Home. Another of those pieces that means so much more to me than it really should. Jon Anderson's beautiful, clear voice combined with Vangelis' musical genius and mastery of sound. I tried to explain to my mum once what I thought the story behind the lyrics was and I got too choked up with emotion to speak. I don't really think I can explain it now, either - especially because the most moving bit for me is the bridge, where there are no words at all.
There are so many more that I could list just on being awesome, or love listening to. Heaps of Trance, Techno, Drum & Bass and Psy Trance that is great stuff and cheers me up; wonderful orchestral works and modern classics; Goon Shows and Irish music and 80's Pop and Rock and the Doctor Who theme and all sorts of other stuff. But those tracks above have a special place in my history and in my heart.

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