Ten 10 songs

Today is my tenth wedding anniversary. So, like my recent fiftieth birthday when I posted my favourite ‘fifty’ songs, here are ten songs with ten in the title to honour a decade wedded to My Beloved Wife.

This blog has been very quiet lately, in fact utterly silent since that birthday post, as the current coronavirus pandemic has had the effect of seemingly leading to less spare time for frivolous pastimes such as this, as well as of course curtailing any gig-going.

I could have included several other bands or singers I like in this rundown, such as Mark Eitzel, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Velvet Crush, but there’s only room for ten.

There probably aren’t many among this selection that My Beloved Wife likes (or maybe even knows), but we’ll start off with one she’s definitely a big fan of.

1. The Beautiful SouthPerfect 10

This was released as the first single off their sixth album Quench in August 1998, entering the UK singles chart at #2, behind another new entrant, Rollercoaster by B*witched, before dropping down the listings.

A sign of the times in a couple of ways, as this was their sixth and last Top 10 single, and one that sold over 400,000 physical copies, so being certified Gold.

As well as all of the above, writing this has led me to discover that Paul Weller plays guitar on this song!

It’s a rare thing for a pop song in that it celebrates the lack of idealised physical perfection, maturely accepting that “we love our love in different sizes”.

2. The FallNine Out Of Ten

Not their greatest ever song, and almost nine minutes to boot – this is the closing track from their final album New Facts Emerge, released in July 2017, six months before Mark E. Smith’s death.

At this point, the band had returned to being a four piece following the departure of Smith’s latest ex-wife Elena Poulou.

Guitarist Pete Greenway said, “I’d met Mark for a beer and we ended up at the studio. I was too drunk to play and Mark just spouted lyrics about his life, spontaneously. I was surprised it ended up on the album”.

David Cavanagh’s review in Uncut says, “The song came to a natural end. Greenway stopped playing. ‘No,’ Smith said. ‘Play it again.’ He got up and walked slowly around the studio, tapping bits of percussion, while Greenway strummed the chords.”

The sheer excess length of the track actually works quite well in fact. It’s an intriguing way to end the band’s final album by having such a lengthy MES-less section, somewhat negating his old quote, “If it’s me and yer granny on bongos, it’s The Fall.

3. Bob DylanI Shall Be Free No. 10

A track off August 1964’s fourth LP Another Side Of Bob Dylan, this is a rather typically oddball talking blues of the time, and is a sequel to I Shall Be Free from 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

Another Side Of Bob Dylan

Dylan brings in legendary boxer Cassius Clay and US Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater amongst the free-reining lyrics.

“I figured I was ready for Cassius Clay. I said “Fee, fi, fo, fum, Cassius Clay, here I come. 26, 27, 28, 29, I’m gonna make your face look just like mine.”

This is seemingly not on YouTube, so you’ll just have to rely on the Spotify playlist below.

4. Michael SlawterCount To 10

Power pop from the former leader of Neidermeyer and The Saving Graces, neither of whom I know anything about, other than them being from North Carolina.

As with much power pop, it’s all about love: “When I see you time moves slowly, and I’m breathless, counting to ten”.

I have this track on The Paisley Pop Label Presents Music For The Masses Volume 1 compilation, one of two freebies I got when I bought Skrang – Sounds Like Bobby Sutliff (a fund-raising tribute to the former member of The Windbreakers) from the record label in June 2013.

5. The Black Keys10 A.M. Automatic

This is the first of three ‘ten’ songs they have released – they must really love the number – with the others being Ten Cent Pistol from Brothers in 2010 and 10 Lovers on 2014’s Turn Blue.

This was issued as the first single off the Rubber Factory album in August 2004, making it all the way to #66 in the UK chart, their highest peaking single at that point. I’ve just discovered that they covered Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues on the b-side, which is actually really quite good.

This song is very typical Black Keys fare, kicking off with one of their trademark bluesy riffs and somewhat distorted vocals. I caught them touring Rubber Factory, at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in November 2004, the second of three times I have seen them in person so far, with this song featuring in the set list.

If you want to hear 10 A.M. Automatic, then go to the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this article. In the meantime, here’s Summertime Blues:

6. Big YouthTen Against One

A 1975 single by the Jamaican reggae icon, that also featured on the following year’s Hit The Road Jack album.

Hit The Road Jack by Big Youth

I’ve not got much to say about this number which appears to be abut hypocrisy – it’s just another great track by him.

7. Harry NilssonTen Little Indians

This was released on 1967’s second Pandemonium Shadow Show LP, immediately being covered by The Yardbirds as their penultimate single.

It was this album that brought him to the attention of The Beatles, with John Lennon stating the following year that Nilsson’s my favourite group”, as well as exclaiming Nilsson for President!”.

This track is fairly grandiose with some great brass work, especially at the close.

It seems to be based on the traditional children’s rhyme which was turned into a different song by The Beach Boys for their 1962 debut album Surfin’ Safari, which is rather more cliched in its racial stereotyping.

8. Jimmie RodgersBlue Yodel No. 10

Known as the Father of Country Music, Rodgers was a huge star from 1928 (just five years after what is reckoned to be the first country record issued) until his death in 1933 from tuberculosis at the age of only 35.

This is a great example of the close relationship between country and blues, although being Rodgers there’s also the yodelling, something not often heard in blues tunes! In fact, he was belatedly inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2013.

The song embraces sadness with humour as “Something about you mama sure gives me the blues. It ain’t your drop stitch stockings, it ain’t your blue buckle shoes”, with happiness of a kind found as “My pretty mama don’t love me, but my bulldog do”.

9. The YardbirdsHappenings Ten Years Time Ago

Recorded in 1966 at a time when both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page were playing guitar with the band, with fellow future Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones on bass on this track.

This psych classic ended the band’s run of Top 20 singles in the UK, only making it as far as #43.

The lyrics are as faux deep as you’d expect from a song of this vintage, such as “but the knowing is in the mind, sinking deep into the well of time”.

After about two minutes, things start to go a little crazy, with guitars sounding like a police siren, weird spoken word and a wiggly Page guitar solo.

Here’s an occasionally ramshackle live version:

10. Harvey & The MoonglowsThe Ten Commandments Of Love

A suitably sloppy one to finish on, although when you stop and analyse it, the lyrics are a little bit passive-aggressive.

Instructions include to “go through life wearing a smile” and “Thou should always have faith in me, in everything I say and do”.

This was a 1958 single by the Cleveland, Ohio combo who had by now added the name of lead singer Harvey Fuqua to their name, having been a foursome since 1951.

This reached #22 on the US singles chart, the last of their three pop hits, as they split up later that year.

Here’s to another few decades!

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Here are most of the tunes on Spotify:

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