1)CHERISH (Association): The romantic in me- gushing emotional song that has always moved me.
2)BREAK AWAY(Beach Boys): This was one of my early Beach Boys favorites on the first compilation tape that I had back in 1985. Always appealed to me the concept of breaking away from a "lonely life." Tag is the best, even although some of the Beach Boys thought it was underproduced....
3)'TIL I DIE (Beach Boys): The only evidence you'll ever need that Brian didn't lose it after SMiLE broke down. Gut-wrenching number that still has an incredible beauty that makes it a positive experience.
4)LONELY SEA (Beach Boys): Brian's first great ballad, this has a tremendous resonance in taking the loneliness metaphor from the person to the sea. Read Greg Panfile's wonderful essay on this song.
5)STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER(You know who!): Arguably the greatest single release ever. A tremendous tune from John but all the production tricks are the icing on the cake.
6)PENNY LANE (The same you know who!): The flipside of the arguable greatest single ever. Great Paul tune, great production. They even did cool videos for these songs.
7)EVERY GRAIN OF SAND (Bob Dylan): In Bob's gospel period, this was much more effective than the fire and brimstone of some of his other work here, mixing a deep spirituality with ten tons of realism.
8)SHOOTING STAR (Bob Dylan): Most rate Oh Mercy! as Dylan's best 80s album, and this is the closer, a wistful combination of love lost and impending doom.
9)BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE (Frente!): I generally go for original versions, and kudos to New Order for writing this, but the combination of Angie Hart's voice and a single acoustic guitar take this song somewhere else. I remember hearing this on the radio and saying to myself "I have to get this record." Unfortunately the DJs never seemed to say who it was, but I eventually tracked it down!
10)MY HEART STOOD STILL (The Mamas And The Papas): Hard to believe only one is left. An evoative song.
11)PARENTHESIS (Kerry Biddell): I don't like the Aussies beating us (and everyone) at sport, but they do some cool things, especially in releasing Jimmy Webb and Burt Bacharach compilations on Raven Records. This was on the excellent Jimmy Webb compilation Tunesmith and was worth the price of admission alone. Kerry Biddell is apparently a Aussie jazz singer, but she absolutely perfects this song that both indicts the music industry and looks at the depth of our souls. Stupendously brilliant!
12)REFLECTIONS (Burt Bacharach): Another great (and inspiring) Bacharach song, from the somewhat doomed Lost Horizon project that still produced some great music.
13)COUNTRY FEEDBACK (REM): Country guitar and feedback go well together here, but it's actually the emotional lyric and arrangement that make this one of REM's best.
14)SADIE'S ANNIVERSARY (Saint Etienne): One of Saint Etienne's gorgeous ballads on the obscure Places To Visit EP
15)THE PROCESS (Saint Etienne): Another gorgeous Saint Etienne ballad, also from an obscure location (Continental compilation LP that was only released in Japan -go figure) although it was also on the Smash The Sytem greatest hits.
16)LIGHT (Scott Walker): Scott's recent work (which has been a little irregular!) has been much more inaccssible than his early classic albums, but this insrumental from the Polo X soundtrack is just plain gorgeous.
17)THANKS FOR CHICAGO, MR JAMES (Scott Walker): 'Til The Band Comes In was an odd album for Scott Walker but is also the last of his five great early solo albums, with a mix of originals of various styles and some crooning. It also has some brilliant individual songs, and this one is a perfect piece of pop, a style Scott didn't use much after the split of the Walkers.
18)THE WAR IS OVER (EPILOGUE) (Scott Walker): Also from 'Til The Band Comes In, this one has an epic grandeur that creates an atmosphere of melancholy joy..or something like that. Anyway it's brilliant.
19)LIKE TO GET TO KNOW YOU (Spanky And Our Gang): Again this was dug out by Saint Etienne on their compilation of other music "The Trip" which has some great stuff, including this classic sunshine pop.
20)GOODBYE, SEPTEMBER (Swan Dive): We continue with three classic pop songs from the the Swan Dive album, Circle. This one is a wistful, well-arranged ballad that should have had much higher profile than just being big in Japan.
21)CIRCLE (Swan Dive): Title track of the album, this is much more up-tempo and has a great sitar break. Thanks, George Harrison!
22)ROME WILL FALL (Swan Dive): Prefab Sprout meets Burt Bacharach meet Swan Dive. Perfect!
23)HUNG UP ON A DREAM (Zombies): Zombies are always end of the alphabet so they at the end here, but are certainly not a footnote in pop history. My favorite from their classic Odessey and Oracle.