“Guitars have been the obsession of my life. I first picked one up at the age of four and I’ve been a guitar junkie ever since.” – Johnny Marr
Hey Dude – Kula Shaker
During their initial run from 1995-1999, Kula Shaker launched themselves to the top of the charts and were critically acclaimed for adding a twist of swirling psychedelia and Indian mysticism to the Britpop formula. Crispian Mills and his band might be best remembered now for a cover of Billy Joe Royal’s ‘Hush,’ but they landed a string of top ten hits at the height of their popularity. ‘Hey Dude’ was one of them, a terrifically danceable rush of soaring synths and guitars topped off by a storming chorus.
Where Did Our Love Go? – Soft Cell
Synthpop duo Soft Cell were one poorly-performing release away from being dropped by their label and having their career swiftly cut short before it even began. It was lucky for them then, that they responded to label pressure with their cover of Gloria Jones’ ‘Tainted Love,’ rocketing to #1 in the charts. The b-side was another cover, a rework of The Supremes’ ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’ which, much like ‘Tainted Love,’ offered a completely different take on the track – adding a sleazy, sultry feel in their version. Despite selling extremely well, Soft Cell lost out on a fair amount of money; as they were unable to claim royalties due to both sides of the release being covers. Amateur mistake lads.
What Difference Does It Make? – The Smiths
Despite only being active for five years, indie darlings The Smiths’ highly revered four albums saw them cement a place as one of the most influential British bands of all time; their songwriting duo of singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr becoming arguably the most celebrated of the 1980s. ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ kicks off with a now-classic Marr guitar line, jangling into action before Moz croons his way through lyrics which can tick off his trademark checklist: witty, poetic and punchy. One of the most underrated Smiths tunes for sure.
Step Up The Morphine – DMA’s
Australian band DMA’s have quietly been building themselves a fair bit of hype. Noted for their Britpop-like sound which seems them shift between punchy and melodic in all the right places, their debut album – ‘Hills End’ – garnered some high praise in reviews when it was released earlier on this year. ‘Step Up The Morphine’ is one of the softer cuts on the album, a midtempo number with guitars awash with chorus and reverb, which settles nicely as the midpoint of the band’s range: from the mostly acoustic ‘Delete’ to all-out attack on ‘Lay Down.’
I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better – The Byrds
The Byrds were very, very briefly as big as The Beatles in the early 1960s. Over time, they’ve been heralded as a hugely influential outfit, and its easy to hear them over the course of what has followed in the last 40 years – with The Stone Roses’ John Squire an undoubted admirer. Creating a folky sound by fusing sweet sounding guitar lines that chime and jangle with a more eccentric side to songwriting, their 1965 album ‘Mr Tambourine Man,’ which featured ‘I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better,’ was the band’s high point. The track follows the standard Byrds formula, 12-string Rickenbacker taking centre stage amid some great vocal harmonies.