A while back a close pal of mine asked me what I thought the most perfect album released was. I answered, as I always do, without any hesitation, “In my own worthless opinion, What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye is the best album ever released.” My pal took this in but still thinks that Exile On Main Street is a killer. And it is. To use the cliché, it’s a motherfucker of an album that still holds up, and the recently released outtakes are incredible. They’d be any other band’s hit singles. Then I was asked, what’s the most perfect song ever released? I began to ponder, but in my pondering I already knew the answer. Then it hit me like a studded cattle prod up the Gary Glitter, and it said, “This is an opening verse that Mick Jagger WISHES he was good enough to have written.”
We can dance if we want to,
And leave your friends behind.
‘Cause your friends don’t dance
And if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine.
Good music comes in all shapes and forms, but ultimately it’s only ever good if you enjoy it, otherwise you’re nothing more than an elitist. Marillion has released several billion albums, but only one song of theirs has reached me, Kayleigh, a powerful song about the loss of innocence and eternal love, with imagery that can, if it gets you at the right time, make you openly weep in public. Great song. I feel the same way about Into Dust by Mazzy Star, or Pavarotti singing Ave Maria and any number of songs that you might otherwise think are crap. Hell, if you can reach Nirvana via Hellhound On My Trail, then you're doing better than most.
Men Without Hats? Men Without Jobs by now surely.
Could Jagger have written the Safety Dance? Perhaps, perhaps not. It’s debatable if Jagger could write something so simplistic, but then have a listen to Satisfaction – that wasn’t written by a mental giant. Lyrically it’s not much more advanced than Un Paloma Blanca or even Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime. Actually Satisfaction, lyrically at least, is on a par with Rocket Ride by Kiss. Has Bob Dylan ever written anything as instantly catchy as ‘New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody’s talkin’ bout, mmmmm pop music” or “Twenty five whores in the room next door, twenty five floors and I need more” or “I love rock and roll, so put another dime in the jukebox baby”? I’ll answer that for you – no, he hasn’t and he never will. I might like Dylan but the truth is that if you put any Dylan song on at a party then you’re gonna kill it dead. Conversely if you put I Want You Back by the Hoodoo Gurus on at a party and people don’t dance, then go home, they’re all dead. A good Dave Faulkner tune can make zombies boogie. On the other side of the fence is the likes of Justin Beiber, someone whose singing voice is slightly less annoying than a man slurping soup loudly. Then again…
But then nobody is releasing books devoted the meaning of Robin Scott’s lyrics. Or Judie Tzuke, John Oates, Peter Schilling or even Joey Scarbury for that matter. But they should. And especially Andy Prieboy. After all it’s very easy to write a song in the ‘vein of’, but bloody hard to write an original song - just ask Madonna, who has made a career out of jumping onto bandwagons and stealing ABBA songs. David Lee Roth tells a great story about a time when he was auditioning guitarists. Loads of them came in and began playing Van Halen songs, note for note. Roth would sit there until they finished and then would lean forward and ask, “Ok, now can you play me something you wrote?” Around 49 out of 50 guitarists were stumped at this. Roth didn’t want someone who could play Van Halen, he wanted someone who could play their own music. After all, Roth once had Van Halen, so anyone else was always going to be a poor carbon copy, other than Steve Vai. Roth should have gone off and written songs with Billy Gibbons for what's worth.
I knew an ape like that. He could play any heavy metal song you’d want to think of, note for note, but when a few of us would jam he’d be lost. Unless we were playing a song that he knew he’d not be able to contribute. He released a CD and gave me a copy, which I happily and rapidly lost, but before I did ‘misplace’ it I had a listen. If I closed my eyes I could almost see him, in the studio, and recognise what Dream Theatre song he was listening to when he recorded his ‘music’. Foul. Any monkey with an iota of talent can write a song like Tomorrow Wendy, but it takes Prieboy to write it. Sean Kelly (Token Angel) can steal from Robbie Robertson (Fallen Angel), but that says more about Kelly’s lack of ability, at the time, than anything else. Wang Dang Poontang!
So, what is the most perfect song, in my view? Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World. Why? Because it’s a beautiful piece of music, a beautiful vocal. It’s the song that I walked down the aisle to and the song I wish to be buried to. Feel free to disagree with me, but I’m telling you right now, you’re so bloody wrong it’s not funny.