The Songs

30Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ – print designed by Alex May Hughes

Forbidden love, eh? We’ve all been there, if only for a weekend. Be thankful yours didn’t involve a herculean beast of a man with a predilection for violence, his thrill seeker wife with time on her hands and a big bag full of smack. Smells like trouble, sounds like heaven and looks utterly fantastic on a wall. 

      

Cyndi Lauper ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ – print designed by Studio Moross

The only thing that sounds more 1980s than this song is actually saying ‘1980’ aloud in a New York accent. Miss Lauper, Cindy to her friends, was kooky and most defiantly ‘not Madonna’. Her firebrand of popular song celebrated the community found in swimming against the tide. And over the years, it’s become understood less as pop hit and more of a battle cry for female equality. To this day, the video remains in the decade it was shot in. In case you’re too young or you’ve forgotten: the 1980s were a whole lotta fun. Can we go there on holiday next year?  

35Indeep ‘Last Night a DJ Saved My Life’ – print designed by Studio Moross

Post the last days of disco and pre the first days of house, this 1983 dance classic helped to fuse the two worlds. It also laid out a blueprint for New York’s distinct take on house music that the song’s producer, Tony Humphries, pioneered and spread globally over the following years. It’s got an unadulterated good times message and a bass line that sounds exactly like Saturday night in the big city.

Madness ‘Our House’ – print designed by Alex May Hughes

As far as life in England goes, you shouldn’t really trust anyone that doesn’t like a curry or that doesn’t have at least one favourite Madness record. We’re aware that’s a huge generalisation, but we don’t care. Metaphorically speaking, this song is the equivalent of a warm cup of milky tea drunk leaning against a radiator whilst wrapped in hot fluffy towel. It was gale-force cold, torrential and dank outside a minute ago but everyting’s irie now you’re back home. The design was inspired by the typography of ‘Ghost Signs’ – the faded Victorian advertising you occasionally see on the gable-end of houses across this green and pleasant land.   

48Marvin Gaye ‘What’s Going On’ – print designed by Jody Barton

This song changed the face of Motown and altered what black popular music could be. At the time of writing Gaye was much troubled; the war in Vietnam was spiralling out of control, his singing partner Tammi Terrell had succumbed to a fatal brain tumour, his marriage to his boss’ (Berry Gordy) sister was over and he withdrew from the music industry, specifically the clean-cut demands of pop stardom placed upon him by said boss. In short, it was a shit two years at the office. Relations with Motown soured further when Berry Gordy showed little appetite for releasing a concept album, written from the perspective of a returning Vietnam veteran, chronicling racial injustices, police brutality and unjust wars. But the ever-astute Berry recognised Gaye’s artistic yearning and, maybe, had a hunch there could be a bunch of people that shared in the pervasive disillusionment of the day. There is exasperation in this song yet there is triumph too. Made with melody and raw emotion, it is the point in life when we decide that ‘We Have Had Enough. We Are Not Going to Take It Anymore.’

Motörhead ‘Ace of Spades’ – print designed by Jody Barton

Unquestionably influential and undeniably British, this song could beat you up in a fistfight. And it’s hard to imagine a more riotous way to spend 2mins and 49seconds of your life. FYI Motörhead is a slang term for a hardcore amphetamine user. Lemmy formed and named the band after he was sacked from Hawkwind for ‘doing the wrong drugs.’ We don’t wanna live forever either.   

50Rick James ‘Super Freak’ – print designed by Jody Barton

Wearing leather trousers and devious grin, where Rick walked the word motherfuka always followed. A night out in his company meant putting your life in his nostrils. A one-man provocation unit, he is rumoured to have had sex with all of Studio 54 at the same time whilst crashing the New York stock exchange just for some lolz. At a dinner party, he utterly entranced Salvador Dali who sketched him for 20minutes on the back of a napkin. This priceless cultural artefact was ruined for all time when James got stoned and went swimming with it in his pocket. Of this song, he never wrote a lyric down, claimed they came to him outta nowhere. I’m Rick James, bitch!

The Beatles ‘All You Need is Love’ – print designed by Kate Moross

The word phenomenon just doesn’t cut the mustard. There was period of time when John, Paul, George & Ringo couldn’t open anything, from a desk draw to a Christmas present, without 34 million screaming teenage girls suddenly appearing out of nowhere. This song, written in July 1967, was performed on the world’s first live global television link: 400 million people tuned in. The Beatles? Never heard of them, mate.

33The Clash ‘I Fought The Law’ – print designed by Alex May Hughes
Penned by Sonny Curtis of The Crickets in the 50s, popularised by The Bobby Fuller Four in the 60s, and immortalised by The Clash in 1979, this anti-establishment little gem connects rock ‘n’ roll to punk rock and still sounds cool as fuck. Legend has it Mick Jones and Joe Strummer both heard the Bobby Fuller Four version for the first time together while recording in San Francisco, and loved it so much they’d learned to play it by the time they got back to London. And what a version – the drum intro sounds like hellfire, the guitars sound like sirens, you can hear flushing on the outro because a bog was used in place of an echo chamber. If that ain’t punk, what is? Fittingly, the design is in the style of a wild west wanted poster. We want. Hell, we might even steal.