The ten best seventies songs

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1 ELECTRICITY Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band (1967; full release in 1970)

Rockette Morton's bass-playing was a great inspiration to me, He used to do a funny little walk on stage, and it was so different to any bass-players I've ever seen. They normally just slunk in a corner by the drummer but this guy was wearing Mexican-type mariachi clothing. I loved it that he just crawled around the bass stack oblivious to the audience listening to his bass plucks. And it was so distorted, the most exciting track I'd heard in ages.

2 LA WOMAN The Doors (1971)

This track just did my head in when I was a student. The build up and the melody and then the way it drifts off at the end was incredible. It was an epic for me. It blew me away and influenced the band for years to come. I love the mystery. Years later, when I went to LA, it was my soundtrack, and of course it was the last Doors record.

3 MAKE ME SMILE (COME UP AND SEE ME) Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel (1975)

It was actually a bittersweet song inspired by the band splitting up and them "deserting" Harley. What was cool about the track was the use of a Spanish guitar break in the middle of the song. It was a new to hear a classical Spanish guitar solo in a rock song. I believe Steve Harley never wants to hear it again, but for Joe Punter like me, it's really fresh.

4 ROXETTE Dr Feelgood (1976)

For a while, this lot were the star in the firmament. "Roxette" is from a live album; Dr Feelgood revolutionised the pub circuit and reintroduced simple rock'n'roll music. People had forgotten how powerful a simple three-cord structure could be when combined with an attitude. When everyone was prog rocking and disappearing up their own arses with complicated stuff, these guys were dressed in black, chain smoking, high on amphetamines and with a serious edge to them. They pre-dated the punk thing and Wilko Johnson influenced people like Ian Dury, Lemmy from Motorhead and The Clash. The band was the single bridge between what happened in '76 and '77.

5 THE MODEL Kraftwerk (1978)

The band that single-handedly invented techno. The use of synthesisers and the rhythm section in this track was revolutionary. It was strange to hear Germans singing English in such a syncopated way. It appealed to me and influenced the Stranglers because we were always torn between being a guitar band and a keyboard band.

6 WE ARE DEVO Devo (1978)

An American band from Ohio who had a vision, a kind of eccentric techno mixed with guitars. When punk came out in the UK some Americans went the techno way, the flip side to the punk thing.

7 WHITE RIOT The Clash (1977)

This is quite a nostalgic choice because 1977 was a vintage year for us. "White Riot" was written about the Notting Hill Carnival Riots and the lyrics say it all; "White riot - I wanna riot/ White riot - a riot of my own!"

8 SULTANS OF SWING Dire Straits (1978)

This lot were playing the pubs and didn't get a look in initially because of the domination of punk music at the time, but when I went abroad the song was being played to death. It was only a while later that they became this mega arena band at home. The track sounds like someone trying to sing like Bob Dylan with a more edgy guitar sound.


This was another song that got buried by punk. They were regarded as a hippie group, a dog-on-a-string type band, and were involved with sci-fi writers. There are some brilliant lyrics in the song: "Copernicus had those Renaissance ladies/ Crazy about his telescope/ And Galileo had a name that made his/ Reputation higher than his hopes." The track is simple, just a three-chord trick, but really rocking. It got buried, though; they were the wrong band at the wrong time.

10 UPTOWN TOP RANKING Althea & Donna (1978)

This was a massive reggae track, mainly thanks to the auspices of John Peel, who played it every night for a while, and it suddenly got into the consciousness of people. Peel was a great influence: back then, he would uncover these obscure records and if he liked them he'd just play them on his show.

The Stranglers' new single, 'Big Thing Coming', is released on 2 February on EMI; the album 'Norfolk Coast' is out on 16 February

Interview by Sam Ingleby