Top 50 Favourite Songs: Mark Fichera

I thought of numerous ways to attack this. One included a single track from every genre or sub- genre I could think of. Another was three tracks from every four year period to sort of evenly cover 1955-2021. Tried to be eclectic. Thought of including jazz and classical. But it just all got too hard (at least for now), and in the end decided to go for (mostly) favourite tracks. And 50 nowhere near does it. Chronological order follows:

1. “The Flying Saucer” – Buchanan & Goodman. 1956. All your ’50s heroes are here in this cinemascope sci-fi drama thriller. But don’t’ panic!
2. “Sally Go Round the Roses” – The Jaynetts. 1962. The seeds of psychedelia innocently sewn in a schoolyard.
3. “House Of The Rising Sun” – The Animals. 1964. Burdon makes you listen up. Son of a preacher man indeed.
4. “Promised Land” – Chuck Berry. 1964. With a guitar in one hand and pen in the other, he carves up the USA like a knife through butter.
5. “Good Vibrations” – Beach Boys. 1966. An elegiac hymn to sun-blessed Cali lifestyle.
6. “Happening Ten Time Years Ago” – The Yardbirds. 1966. Journey to the centre of the earth in quick time, and back home for tea.
7. “Him Or Me—What’s it Gonna Be?” – Paul Revere & The Raiders. 1967. Giovanni Dadomo called one of their albums “proper American pop.” It certainly describes this song. So utterly formal and neat, yet rockingly wild at the same time.

8. “Section 43” (LP version) – Country Joe And The Fish. 1967. Like the album title, electric music for the mind and body.
9. “Sister Ray” – Velvet Underground 1967. Let the jam unfold.
10. “Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil” – Jefferson Airplane. 1967. The ’60s is all here—feedback atonalism melody anger love sentimentalism harmony and experimentation.
11. “Astronomy Domine” – Pink Floyd. 1967. Navigating the heavens with child-like wonder—and more than a sense of terror.
12. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” – The Monkees. 1967. Or pleasant pop sundae with a cherry on top.
13. “Ball And Chain” (live Monterey version) – Big Brother & the Holding Company. 1967. The one thing more astonishing than the flashed-out playing of the band and Joplin conjuring a new blues from out of god-knows-where, is how perfectly they gel together. A pure blast of force, even the pauses sound lethal.
14. “Day In The Life” – The Beatles. 1967. Because when you are the greatest pop thing it makes perfect sense to orchestrate 4,000 holes.
15. “Let’s Talk About Girls” – Chocolate Watch Band. 1967. The garage door busted down, the band bolts away, a feedback of guitar left behind, just like the background radiation of the universe.
16. “Flight Reaction” – The Calico Wall. 1967. A cacophony of alarm, panic, sirens, as a plane descends inexorably into oblivion. And the vow to never fly again.
17. “Paper Sun” – Traffic. 1968. Glorious bliss, but it won’t let you shake that unnerving feeling that it’s about to crumple up.
18. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” – Rolling Stones. 1968. Narcissism as a well-earned virtue.
19. “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” – Jimi Hendrix Experience. 1968. Psychedelic heavy metal blues soul rock. Whoa!
20. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” – The Stooges. 1969. The sound of sleigh bells trying to soothe a ravaged guitar.
21. “Wheels” – Flying Burrito Brothers. 1969. Careening down the highway without a care in the world.
22. “Merry Go Round” – Wild Man Fisher. 1969. His enthusiasm is damn infectious and endearing.
23. “The Soft Parade” – The Doors. 1969. A drama in three parts. Starting soulfully pensive, switching to musings on mundane suburbia, then Morrison takes the band down to a party in hell. Drama queens do make the best operas.

24. “I Got A Thing, You Got A Thing, Everybody’s Got A Thing.” – Funkadelic. 1970. Because when the court can’t get its act together, it takes the jokers to really tell where it’s at.
25. “Get Up I Feel Like A Sex Machine” – James Brown. 1970. Grunt force.
26. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (LP version) – The Who. 1971. Just like the monolith on the cover, the song is immutable, a weighty object of mass. An anthem end to all anthems, displaying the exaltation one feels when a realisation suddenly dawns as clear as the Big Bang.
27. “Thank You for Talkin’ To Me Africa” – Sly & The Family Stone. 1971. A car crash in slow motion. You can hear each piece of metal crumple, each shard of glass fracture, every bone break.
28. “20th Century Man” – The Kinks. 1971. Bewildered by your surroundings, and desperately looking for a way out.
29. “Because I Love You” – Masters Apprentices. 1972. Delicate verses spar with thunderous chorus, until the former is finally engulfed as the latter just gets bigger and doesn’t want to ever stop.

30. “Philadelphia Freedom” – Elton John. 1974. A lesson that a sunny disposition can go a long way.
31. “Boredom” – Buzzcocks. 1977. Teetering on the edge, its ragged and threatening to tune out, but not before it slices up the air.
32. “Pretty Vacant” – Sex Pistols. 1977. Out to lunch, nobody here. Or everyone else has turned up late, so just go home.
33. “I Feel Love” – Donna Summer. 1977. Moroder gets most of the rap, but Summer’s vocal rides the music like she finds it. Any other singer would have fluffed it, just like anyone but McCartney would have fluffed “Yesterday”. Like him she is aloof, coolly emotional, but sharply observant. Result: perfect symbiosis of human and machine.
34. “Oh Bondage Up Yours” – X-Ray Spex. 1978. The sheer joy of Poly Styrene screaming for the hell of it, and Laura Logic nonchalantly brushing her off.
35. “Know Your Product” – The Saints. 1978. Satisfaction part two. But unlike Jagger they are not frustrated at the commercial world, just incredulous that it exists at all.
36. “The Message” – Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. 1982. Life lessons.
37. “Mirror Blues I” – Died Pretty. 1984. A guitar-organ rave up with the speed of sound, density of lead.

38. “Into The Groove” – Madonna. 1985. The most compelling argument that the act of someone asking you to dance is more memorable than the dance itself.
39. “Can’t Get There From Here” – REM. 1985. Arty cryptic word play weaved seamlessly in rollicking pop.
40. “Fight For Your Right” – Beastie Boys. 1987. The brats with the beats beating you back.
41. “Paid in Full – Seven Minutes of Madness (The Coldcut Remix)” – Eric B. & Rakim, 1987. Catchy and scratchy.
42. “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” – Guns’ n’ Roses. 1987. Machismo fraying in the face of vulnerability. Relished by the protagonists, they’re desperate to see it where it all goes…
43. “Streets Of Your Town” – 1988. The Go-Betweens. Lazy but urgent, sunny but dark.

44. “Don’t Believe The Hype” – Public Enemy. 1988. Media-savvy and smart wordsmiths with rhymes of steel.
45. “Fool’s Gold” – Stone Roses. 1989. Off kilter but funky, a laid-back and trippy journey which achieves perfect equilibrium—neither coming down or taking off.
46. “Say No Go” – De La Soul. 1989. Fooling-around clowns suddenly get serious. Do drugs amuse you? How?
47. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana. 1991. And tastes like it too.
48. “Gold Digger” – Kanye West. 2005. Life’s tough when you’re a star. Either that or you’ve got to find problems to solve.
49. “We Are The People” – Empire Of The Sun. 2008. Sung from another world.
50. “Bad Guy” – Billie Eilish. 2019. So sweet, so tough. And so refreshingly direct.

And ten bubbling under:
“Speedoo” – The Cadillacs. 1954
“Psychotic Reaction” – Count Five. 1966.
“Chest Fever” – The Band. 1968.
“Oh Well” – Fleetwood Mac. 1968
“Wasted” – Black Flag. 1977.
“Teenage Depression” – Eddie & The Hot Rods. 1977.
“Found A Job” – Talking Heads. 1978.
“Loser” – Beck. 1992.
“Coffee And Cigarettes” – Blur. 1999.
“Barbra Streisand” – Duck Sauce. 2010.

Mark Fichera
First bewitched by hearing “A Hard Days Night” at some very young age, a rock fan ever since. Grew up in Burwood, NSW, Australia, in the ’60s and ’70s, the same suburb and time as the Young brothers (Easybeats, AC/DC) did. First rock book that captivated me was Jeremy Pascall’s colourful Illustrated History Of Rock Music from ’78. Avid reader and listener, collector of music, past DJ, and once aspiring musician, now spend spare days writing album reviews and lists (will soon publish one day, yeah sure) when not working in the “real” world.

7 thoughts on “Top 50 Favourite Songs: Mark Fichera

  1. OMG PICKS X COMMENTS!! One thing I’ll add: “Ball and Chain” is absolutely “blues from god-knows-where” in listening experience, though also from Big Mama Thornton, as written and previously recorded by her—def Joplinized, Big Brotherized here.

  2. I’m guessing Mark and I are in a small minority on this one, but I love seeing “Soft Parade” here. It was one of the Doors songs my brother played endlessly when I was a kid, and I still find it riveting–bombastically so, perhaps, but riveting nonetheless.

    Also a fan of “Know Your Product”—though I give the edge to the Saints’ “(I’m) Stranded”—at least for the way it makes explicit the Roxy-into-punk connection. Still, I wonder if Smokey Robinson, who wrote “Get Ready” for the Temptations, sought royalties?

    As for “We Are the People,” I hadn’t heard of it, but inquiring minds want to know: is it “We ARE the People”? or “WE Are the People”? or “We Are the PEOPLE”?

  3. I never made the Roxy connection but that’s interesting thinking about it. For me the horns are key. They were usually associated soul/R&B/jazz and not punk (even The Stooges “LA Blues” cannot break away from the free jazz idiom). With Roxy the horns are not a soul or jazz thing, but another way to crank it up. And the Saints really go for a rave-up.

  4. I dig “The Soft Parade” as well. Always have. Really enjoy how Jimbo’s pretensions run aground squarely into his lizardy pop-schlock thing before closing out as some kinda proto(?)-Tommy finale.

  5. I admit the Roxy connection to “Know Your Product” is a bit of a stretch, based more on a nod to a certain sensibility that emerged in RM’s music on occasion, all sax-driven (the propulsive rhythm of “The Strand,” the crazed breakout in “Would You Believe”), and it’s something I wish there was more of in Roxy, that kind of greaseball/sci-fi/zonked-out ’50s thing.

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