1. The Moontrekkers – “Night of the Vampire” (1961)
When North London kids The Raiders auditioned for Joe Meek he was less than impressed with 16 year old singer Rod Stewart. Duly dumped, the now instrumental band were rewarded by creeping into the Top 50 with their first single, complete with Meek screams and a ban from the BBC for being “unsuitable for people of a nervous disposition”.
2. The Vontastics – “Lady Love” (1966)
Do The Vontastics really sing “She’s a man and I love her so” in the first twenty seconds of this Impressions-style 45? No matter how many times I listen (and it’s a lot) that’s what I always hear.
3. MC5 – “Looking At You” (1968)
Completed in 2002 but prevented a full release by Wayne Kramer, David C. Thomas and Laurel Legler’s documentary film MC5: A True Testimonial sneaked its way onto YouTube last week. There’s so much to admire about the MC5: their attitude, style, politics, wilful anti-establishment stance but what comes across most vividly from the bountiful footage is what an untouchable force they were as a live act. The original single version of “Looking At You” is the best studio capture of their sound.
4. Bob Seger System – “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” (1968)
Was sent this song the other day and told it had my name all over it. How right they were. Foot stomping, hand clapping, organ propelled Detroit garage rock. Tamer than the MC5 but then what isn’t?
5. The Eddy Jacobs Exchange – “Pull My Coat” (1969)
Funky just isn’t a strong enough word for this tough JBs style bomb.
6. Leon Thomas – “Bag’s Groove” (1970)
There’s nothing Leon likes more than to break out into a prolonged bout of scat singing. A couple of tracks on The Leon Thomas Album break the ten minute barrier so first ease yourself in gently with this more manageable three minutes of shoo-be-doo-be-doo-wop gibberish set to a swinging groove.
7. Bob Dylan – “Spanish Is The Loving Tongue” (1970)
This previously unreleased take from the recent Another Self Portrait finds Bobby gently crooning and tinkering the ivories. The ten volumes of his Bootleg Series alone wipe the floor with everyone else.
8. The Kinks – “Nobody’s Fool (Demo Version)” (1972)
Written by Ray Davies and used as the title music for the second series of TV drama Budgie, starring Adam Faith as the consistently unlucky charismatic rogue/unscrupulous bastard title character (“I’ve bleedin’ stood for it again, ain’t I?”). The telly version was released as a single by a studio concoction christened Cold Turkey (thought by many – incorrectly - to be The Kinks under alias). Ray’s demo can now be found on the new deluxe edition of Muswell Hillbillies.
9. Robyn Hitchcock – “Brenda’s Iron Sledge” (1981)
I’m unfashionably late to the Hitchcock party but what a wonderful discovery Black Snake Diamond Role is. If you like Syd Barrett, fill your boots.
10. Morrissey and Siouxsie – “Interlude” (1994)
I usually hate the early chapters of autobiographies but Morrissey’s incredible purple prose, turn of phrase and eye for detail about growing up in dark and brutal Manchester in the 60s and 70s makes the first 100 pages of his the exception.