Radio 6 Music's Marc Riley: 50 Songs I Love

Bowie, Lennon, McCartney, Sinatra and Britney Spears all feature on this "50 Songs" rundown from 6 Music radio DJ Marc Riley
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Bowie, Lennon, McCartney, Sinatra and Britney Spears all feature on this "50 Songs" rundown from 6 Music radio DJ Marc Riley


1. David Bowie; Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)

Less of a song more  of a suite/opus. One of David Bowie's best vocal performances. Smouldering and dark.

2. Mott The Hoople; All The Young Dudes 

The greatest teenage anthem for those of a certain age. And the greatest song ever gifted from one artist (Bowie) to another.

3. Captain Beefheart; Tropical Hotdog Night 

From his return to form album Shiny Beast. Angular yet beautiful at the same time.

4. Britney Spears; Toxic

Not being perverse here… at all. One of the greatest pop records ever made.

5. These New Puritans; We Want War

Inspired by Benjamin Britten. And you can't say that by many records made by 20 year old men. The best record of the last 10 years… probably.

6. Buzzcocks; Lipstick

Pete Shellys working off the riff he lent to Devoto for Shot By Both Sides. Perfect pop.

7 . The Groundhogs; Eccentric Man

I got into The Groundhogs about 6 years ago. 'Coz I'm an idiot. McPhee is a genius. One of the great guitarists…and for all  those years I had 'em down as a bluesy pub band. I did tell you I'm an idiot didn't I?

8. Neu!; Hero

From  Neu! 75. Possibly the band who have  influenced 'indie' music the most over the last 5 years. You can't move for 'motorik'..which is a great thing.

9. Wire; Outdoor Miner

If anyone can  find anything wrong with this song please drop me a line. Intelligent (obviously - it is Wire) with luscious lyrics and a perfect marriage of guitars, bass, drums and eventually piano.

10; Eno; Baby's  On Fire

A mad mad record…made even madder by Robert Fripps (yes you guessed) mad guitar solo. Groundbreaking.

11. T Rex; Baby Strange

Not a hit single but taken from my favourite T Rex LP The Slider. This is sex on legs…. or vinyl…

12. The Stooges; Loose

Talk about punk prototypes.. and I will… this was a dangerous record in 1970... and still is. None of them give a fuck... about anything… apart from nailing the song. And nailed it is. File under WILD.

13.  Smog; Cold Blooded Old Times

Bill Callahan is my favourite American lyricist working today. We played this on Radio 1 a lot… which I'm sure the bosses appreciated. Ha! A song about domestic violence. "Mother came rushing in/she said we didn't see a thing/we said we didn't see a thing/and father left at eight/nearly splintering the gate/cold-blooded old times"

14. Unknown Mortal Orchestra;  Swim And Sleep (Like A Shark)

Led by New Zealander Ruban Nielson, this is one of those records you can fall in love with the first time you hear it. He has a talent not unlike that of Joe Mount from Metronomy.

15. Metronomy; Heartbreaker

Its difficult to pick one song by Joe. The 3 albums are all very different and all riddled with genius. But for this one I use the words 'perfect pop' again... so I'll take it.

16. Field Music; A Gap Has Appeared

2 minutes of unbridled beauty. It could go on for another 20 minutes for me. Brewis Brothers are both geniuses.

17. Genesis; Supper's Ready

Talking of going on for over 20 minutes. This is the song that  really divides my 6 Music audience. Loopy. Ridiculous. Great. Really great.

18. Can; Yoo Doo Right

Another 20 minute masterpiece. Another tunes that divides. So ahead of  its time... and most still haven't caught up.

19. Mountain; Nantucket Sleigh-Ride

More prog but with a slab of Americana thrown in for good measure. The theme to WEEKEND WORLD is the answer to the question everyone asks upon hearing it.

20. The Scars; Horroshow

A great band that imploded. This was their first release on Bob Last’s Fast label. The guitar could cut you in two..and it's about A Clockwork Orange.

21. Butthole Surfers; Negro Observer

One of the great bands. Made it big whilst being the biggest bunch of miscreants on God's Earth. Gibby is my hero... and Paul Leary a fabulous guitarist and  producer.

22. Ministry; Jesus Built My Hotrod

Gibby again. If you’ve never heard this...  right the wrong now.

23. Television; Marquee Moon

Two of my favourite guitarists battling it out on what could be the greatest debut album of all  time!?

24. Kevin Ayers;  Shouting In Bucket Blues

You gotta love Kevin Ayers... but don’t leave him alone with your wife/girlfriend. Incredible guitar from Steve Hillage too!

25. PiL; Religion

Christ Almighty.


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26. Felt; Ballad Of The Band

Perfectly show Lawrence’s ambitions and frustrations that have haunted him ever since this came out in 1986.

27. Fiery Furnaces; Duplexes Of The Dead/Automatic Husband/Ex Guru

Like the Bowie choice -  3 tunes than live together. Widow City is their masterpiece for me.

28. Sexual Objects; Here Come The Rubber Cops

Davy Henderson = the greatest living Scot. Fire Engines or Win could have taken this slot but the Sobs are living and breathing... and thrilling!

29. Frank Sinatra; It Was A Very Good Year

Hear it and weep.

30. Glen Campbell; Witchita Lineman

I hated this song as a kid. Then you get on a bit... and wake up. Tremendous songwriting from Jimmy Webb.

31. Grandaddy; Crystal Lake

Any number of Grandaddy tunes could have tipped up in this  list... but I talk over this tune every night on my show - so I owe it one. I probably should be He’s Simple... He’s Dumb...

32.  Holy Fuck; Lovely Allen

I sometimes think this is the best instrumental tune ever.

33. Focus; Sylvia 

Then I hear this and think this might be...

34. John Barry;  Theme From Persuaders

...and then I put this on and decide trying to pick the best instrumental ever is pointless, childish and impossible.

35. John Lennon; Gimme Some Truth

What  Lennon does best. A barbed attack on Tricky Dickie... and a tune that would come back to haunt him a coupla  years later. Green Card.

36. Daniel Johnston; Go

A  lot of people level the old “Emperors New Clothes’  insult at Daniel..but a lot of people deserve a smack in  the chops. One  of the  most beautiful songs ever written. The version he did of this in session for me with Mark Linkous (RIP), James McNew, Jad Fair and Scout Niblett is my favourite.

37. Connan Moccasin;  Forever Dolphin Love

Someone once described Connan to me as ‘timid’..which is accurate... although ‘Genius’  does cover him too. A unique soul. Wonderful.

38. Alternative TV; Action, Time And Vision

When Punk really started to show it had a brain. The Image Has Cracked is a great great album.

39. Elliot Smith; Pretty (Ugly Before)

Beautiful...and now that Elliot Smith has gone all the more  poignant.

40. Elbow; Anyday Now

Elbow doing ‘claustrophobic’. It's an incredible song. An incredible album.

41. Jacques Brel; Ne Me Quitte Pas

Could have put Dusty’s version in here but thought JB deserved the nod. Pass the hankie.

42. Cardiacs; Day Is Gone

God this makes me feel ALIVE! I can’t sit still when I hear this. Impossible. Tim Smith is one of the great unsung heroes of modern music. He’s been very  poorly for some time now but  is thankfully on the mend. Lots of love to Tim.

43. Low; Try To Sleep

Low write the most tender songs... often with an underlying menace. Listen to Alan and Mimi together on this...I think I’ll need more hankies.

44. Paul McCartney; Maybe I'm Amazed

To all the Macca naysayers out there... STICK THIS IN YER PIPE AND SMOKE  IT.

45. Sensational Alex Harvey Band; Faith Healer

Bonkers. To think Alex was once known as the ‘Scottish Tommy Steel’. One of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.

46. Suicide; Cheree

Another band that sounded like they’d landed from planet Zog. They opened for The Clash and got bottled off. By wankers it must be said. So much for the blank generation.

47. Sweet Baboo; Tom Waits Rip Off

The first song Steve Black ever did for me in session. I’ve been a massive fan ever since. So talented. And with a really great twisted sense  of humour. I hope 2013 is his year. It's looking good presently.

48. Euros Childs; Spin That Girl Around 

I’ve played this (session version) song more than any other on my programme. Euros is such a cool man. He finished writing the lyrics in the corridor of BBC North seconds before he performed it. Got Sweet Baboo on bass to. :o)

49. Pink Floyd; Shine On you Crazy Diamond

I don’t CARE WHAT YOU THINK OF THIS INCLUSION OK!!!!  Gilmour on the top of his game. And Syd turned up out of the blue when they were recording it.

50. The Trashmen; Surfin' Bird

There’s a lot of talk about what was the first punk record. Surely this is it? 1963.

And one more for the hell of it...

51. The Fall; Leave The Capitol

Probably my favourite Fall  song... and The Fall were my favourite band in the world when I was lucky enough  to join em... so... might as well eh...