AAAAAAAAHHH WE’VE FINISHED FINALLY UGH OH GOD THANK THE LORD WE’RE DONE ARGHHHH — oo, and we’re ending on a doozy.
Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers (2002)
Right then — RIGHT THEN. Let’s get into it. It’s no secret to anyone who’s spent more than 30 minutes with me that I love this song more than most things ever created on Earth. It’s very hard to put in to words the concoction of passion, nostalgia, fun and that lil’ summatsum that this song instills within me. It’s a band at their best, riding the commercial and critical high of Californication, and you can hear that in the carefree but pristine playing from everyone involved. John’s guitars are simply astounding, dancing around reggae and jangle pop in a signature Frusciante style. and his vocal harmonies, much like on everything By The Way has to offer, are almost Beach Boys-level, while Anthony perfectly switches between his rapping, which is punchy and vibrant, to his soothing clean voice. The rhythm section are flawless, with Chad’s solid beat also showing signs of passion in the brushy hi-hats akin to a summer breeze, and Flea turns up the funk a notch, giving it a little punky flair. And, from what little sense you can make of the lyrics, there is great love for life there — and who doesn’t need more of that?
Smooth Sailing – Queens of the Stone Age (2013) – UGHHG YEOWWW! I mean, it’s dripping in ‘tude, right down from Josh’s “fuck you” falsetto to Grohl’s drunkenly stumbling drum beat. Almost the complete antithesis of Can’t Stop, it seems this song writhes in it’s own decadence, with more fuzz than you’d find under your sofa and backing vocals delivered straight from an acid trip. The bleached out guitars grate like a dragging heroin needle, with the solo hitting you like a shot of it. It’s completely intoxicating, it’s Lucifer in reptile form.
Bulls On Parade – Rage Against The Machine (1996) – Everything I love about RATM is present and accounted for on this Evil Empire standout. There’s a criminal funk going on in the bass, like a petrol bomb with fragments of Maggot Brain, as Brad’s kickdrum groove travels down my heart and, shit, I’m now pumping Rage-induced blood at offbeat rate. Tom gives us scratching and dipply-wobs and lollygags and bells and whistles and whatever you want, with a solo that’s more turntablism than shredding — and a riff that is the literal interpretation of a moshpit. Zack’s a bottle of liquid fury fizzed up and ready to burst with his most incendiary set of lyrics yet. It’s classic Rage at their absolute best.
All My Life – Foo Fighters (2002) – A recent upgrade to my number one Foos song has seen this hard rocker creep into my picks here with expected ease. An iconic riff of the 00s, the muted grinds that lure us in tripwire us into one of the band’s biggest, heaviest singles. It’s a song with both a strangely erotic groove, not helped by the fact that it’s about oral sex, and a rocket-fuelled explosion of energy — married in a chorus catchier than chlamydia, and much *much* more welcome.
War Pigs – Black Sabbath (1970) – THERE IS NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT WAR PIGS THAT YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW. It’s the ultimate Sabbath song, ergo the ultimate metal song. Ozzy belts out protest with a set of lyrics that could be scrawled on any revolutionary manifesto throughout history — RATM take notes. Tony’s riffing is unrivalled, with a improvisational twang that lasts throughout the song, right down to the orgasmic solo. Of course, this is only accentuated by Geezer’s mad shit on the bass, I can’t even describe it. And, cementing his place on the drumming Mt. Rushmore, Bill’s fills go down in history as the some of the most iconic, intricate and fully METAL of all time — OH LORD YEAHHH.
The Mars Volta – Goliath (2008)
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, gets me pumped like this song. The crown jewel of The Bedlam In Goliath, my favourite album of all time, this is a napalm bomb and it’s absolute FIRE – screw Kendrick Lamar, this is the real stuff. Whether it be the rhythm section, the guitars, the keyboards, the drums, the everything else cuz there’s like 9 musicians or something, everything is just a fistful of energy and skill, an unorthodox mess of unadulterated brilliance, as every little intricate piece is placed in a puzzle that only Omar Rodriguez-Lopez fully understands, but a damn good sounding puzzle indeed. It’s a 7 minute, or sometimes 9, overtly funky, aggressive, fascinating, heavy, in-your-face, explosion: unrelenting and infinitely great.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dani California (2006)
This song is my life. It’s my favourite song by my favourite band. Sure, for a while I said I preferred Snow ((Hey Oh)), but we all know I was just trying to be different, and Dani California was always my favourite, always the closest to my heart, and it still is. For one, it’s an absolute ANTHEM, it’s so fantastically listenable, so easy to sing along to, and so, so fun. Second, the rhythm section is on top form, slinging SLAMMED drumbeats and fuzzy, pumpin’ basslines out the wazoo while Kiedis does everything he does best supremely in all the outfits thinkable, and Frusciante brings out the heavy, the funk and one of his greatest, and the greatest guitar solos, of all time. If there is one song that defines me, or I’ll call my song, it’s this.
Pearl Jam – Black (1991)
Yes, yes, Milo can joke all he likes about how I sob into a pillow every time I hear this song. Just, man. You gotta see where I’m coming from here. This song, it’s power ballad perfection, those melancholic, roomy, jabbing piano stabs, beautiful little guitars flowing through it all, and Eddie’s passionate, and I mean PASSIONATE, vocals, all resonate together in such an emotionally potent, brilliantly listenable way. The ability the song has to be so powerful and heavy, yet so gentle and intimate, is truly unique and the lyrics collect together the collective pouring of hearts of lovestruck dummies everywhere – Eddie’s performance is so sincere, and the instrumentals all over are just breathtaking in how they fit together so well, and convey such a striking image of love and loss. I’ve never felt so connected to a song as this in my life, or connected one to such a huge aspect of my life, and I’ll never, ever forget it.
Porcupine Tree – Arriving Somewhere but Not Here (2005) – It could have been either this or Anesthetize, but I just about prefer this track. The perfect soundtrack for driving through sparsely lit motorways at night, as the journeying progressions and that ominously repetitive guitar, accompanied by the floating vocals and abstract soundscapes make for a melancholic and introspective ride, a musical journey in the truest sense. Every single component here, be it the weeping guitar solos or the wide, deep and low bass rumbling through it, or the light acoustic guitars, is perfection. It’ll give you more goosebumps than you thought humanly possible. This is one of few examples of where everything came together in a song. There is just something so special here, how they got into that room together and recorded something so incredible is beyond me.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can’t Stop (2002) – I surprised myself when I decided I’d put this song here. It didn’t quite get in my 2000s category, no, it got in here instead. It’s Milo’s favourite song for very good reason, rest assured. It’s By the Way’s beating heart, at the centre of everything good that is on that wonderful album, a rhythmic beast, goosebump provoker and infectiously catchy, perfectly crafted rock song and a timeless classic, exhibiting so much energy and joy through offbeat riffs and some of the greatest musical synchronising of a guitar and a bass in musical history.
Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin (1971)
Respect – Aretha Franklin
Teenage Riot – Sonic Youth (1988)
This is an anthem for a bunch of different reasons. It’s got the epic build, the sonic journey. It’s got funny lyrics that reference 70’s rock excess, secret locations and all of the freewheeling formative adventures that rock and roll fans pin to the songs of their youth.
It’s an epic, but it isn’t excessive or decadent. This track sounds like the best band at the best party finding their groove just as everyone is coming up.
Most People Are DJs – The Hold Steady (2004) – The floor of this song is sticky with spilled beer, the air smells of sweat and cheap dry ice. You can almost hear cans opening and glasses clinking under the music. The sticker coated 200 capacity venue where next big things are about to raise the roof has never sounded more three dimensional as it does on Most People Are DJ’s. Every line startling in it’s originality and the accuracy of it’s keen observation.
And if that’s not enough, then there’s the big barn buster solo at the end. Wildman rock that put’s Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick and Randy Rhodes on the back foot. And then it just stops. Dead. Like the power blew out. Mid flight it just disappears.
Overkill – Mötorhead (1979) – Glorious on the record. Even better on the live album No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith. This one was always unparalleled if you were ever in the same room as the band while they played it.
It’s a cheeky cunt of a song. It won’t behave. Five minutes of relentless rhythm, buzzing guitar attack and it has several false endings. It’s rock and it’s roll and its rebellion made noise.
The manifesto for great rock and roll and a life on the limits is laid out in the lyrics.
Wet Sand – Red Hot Chili Peppers (2006) – Proper epic songs are hard to pull off. Especially if the band in question are usually ‘ditty’ based and used to bothering the charts with their output.
There are vocal crescendos and ‘woahahos’ that would unite a festival in an epic set closer and then there’s the crown jewels of the whole thing bringing in the final act. The guitar solo. The. Guitar. Solo. It’s immaculate, it’s searing and soaring, it’s one of the great guitar solos of our time, of all time.
Jesus Built My Hotrod – Ministry (1992) – This track smells of diesel and burnt rubber. It smells like flaming Eightballs rolling across torn denim. Jesus Built My Hotrod has a hint of stale cider, whiskey and sweat on leather about it. Jesus Built My Hotrod is what you would get if Motörhead’s Overkill knocked up Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild in the back of that car the Munster’s used to drive at a drive-in screening of Rock And Roll High School. The most righteous mix of nonsense and attitude since Zodiac Mindwarp And The Love Reaction.
Stay tuned for more Best Thangs of All Time!