Diamonds are Forever

All time greatest records of all time

What’s the idea?

I suggest that in the realm of popular music there are some tracks that are as close to perfect as makes no difference. These are not necessarily one-hit wonders that you hear twenty or more years later and sing along to (e.g. Echo Beach) nor are they monster rock ballads (insert Zepellin track here) but they are the perfect little gems of popular music that you bump into on a mix tape or odd radio programme and are instantly back to the time and, you know what, they actually are as timeless and perfect as you always thought.

I suspect some element of this is always based on age, experience and taste, but I would venture that the initial list presented here is a good starting place. You could always disagree or make your own suggestions!

Here they come, in an entirely haphazard order (i.e. I was too lazy to sort them before writing!)

The Beach Boys: Good Vibrations yes the much remixed and released psychedelic masterpiece that you hear and are taken back in time (in my case to the 70s when my parents bought a copy to play on our new stereogram [yes that’s a real word]). Is it the mad lyrics, the dreamy sounds or just the raw talent shining strong?

Soft Cell: Tainted Love the masterpiece of the 80s dance floor it is in fact musically multi-layered and probably one of the first 12-inches (no I won’t explain if you don’t know) that I bought (even before Blue Monday!). You may be half aware of the Northern Soul status of this, but do you know what that means? In fact this was the B-side of a 1965 Gloria Jones track that gained a good following in the 70s on the Northern Soul circuit.

The Clash: London Calling the central question here is does punk count as pop? My answer, if this track is good enough for Bob Dylan to cover on tour then that counts as popular in my book (not that I’m a big Dylan fan you understand). As to timeless, I suspect that as long as there is a London then this song will remain true (repeat after me ‘Cause London is drowning and I, I live by the river’)

The Spice Girls: Wanna Be ok a surprise contrast but stay with me. Remember the category is popular music, and this was popular (back in 1996). Yes is launched no end of Union Jack clothing and the mixed / various careers of the girls, but this is perfectly formed (and less than three minutes to boot).

Simon and Garfunkel: The Boxer now back to more prestigious territory. I am not a massive S&G fan but I can’t hear this and be unmoved. For me this is timeless as once you make the effort to listen to the lyrics the song takes you by the hand and lets you stand at the station unseen by the narrative voice and you feel his need for life to improve.

Commodores (Lionel Ritchie): Easy (Like Sunday Morning) this is surely one of THE tracks of all time. Who hasn’t played air guitar to this masterpiece?It may be longer than a normal limit (these diamonds are normally bijou (inevitably)) but you tell me it doesn’t transport you when you hear it!

Rod Stewart: Maggie May this may be a 70s thing, and Mr. Stewart may be more rocker than pop star but I think this track stands the test of time. You might suggest Sailing is a better more successful track, but that misses the point. And it’s my list so do your own if you don’t agree with me

The Zombies: She’s not There fits the bill, it is a short piece and you always sing along whenever you hear it. It is honest, catchy and classic (release 1964 and only limited chart success). Nice!

Duran Duran: Girls on Film maybe Rio is the better track but this is still the one for me (and that may be memories of too many cocktails whilst watching the video!). And I managed to write this without a Barbarella reference (whoops!)

The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping I was going to avoid Christmas (too many perfect tracks – separate list?) but as this is my favourite I thought I would include it here. This may be the only track they had success with (at least in the UK) but it is pure contemporary Christmas in my book.

Roxy Music: Street Life this is on the list simply from having heard it a few times on the radio whilst preparing this list. Each time I am mentally taken back to hearing this in the early 70s and the voice and overall sound are still highly distinctive

Katrina and the Waves: Walking on Sunshine this has the distinction of being the only track I have seen performed live and given it still appears on the X-factor and gets trotted out on Radio 2 every summer (yes Katrina is a BBC DJ which helps) then this makes my list. And they’re a Cambridge band!

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: I love Rock and Roll yes I added this later, and yes there are now 13 on this list, but hey I make the rules. I happened to hear this in the car on the way home (after Rio mentioned above!) and took it as an omen. This track is in!


About Tony Jones
Big Finish writer, reviewer and blogger, I'm interested in science fiction and Doctor Who. I review for CultBox, The Doctor Who Companion and others. I am also Lead Writer for Starburst Magazine, and write the occasional piece for Vortex, the BSFA critical magazine.

2 Responses to Diamonds are Forever

  1. Senoj Luap says:

    Bah! No “Intelligent Seaweed”?


    • helmstone says:

      I’m sure they may get a blog entry of their own at some point, along with the Pink Slugs


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