The list below first appeared on The Opinionated Diner in January, 2006, and appears here as an archive, pretty much unedited, aside from a mistake or two corrected.

Detroit ProducersBarabara MasonChez Damier

No Tricks in '86

This started life, as per my earlier post, as an attempt to do a personal top 100 12” singles of all time.

Actually it really started life as my top 100 albums of all time, inspired by this rather good list, full of the sorts of things lists usually miss. The Q & Mojos of the world are always so scarily, nay, drearily, predicable in their lists…. which we all devour anyway: Velvet Underground, Beatles, Iggy, Love, Exile on Main Street, Radiohead, token Black artists like Aretha (well, maybe not in Q, a magazine that once described Gregory Isaacs as a “Dennis Brown sound-alike”) and Pet Sounds at number one. But none of that disco.

I have trouble with any list that excludes Another Side by Fingers Inc.

And the likes of Rolling Stone and Spin are simply dull, filling such lists with a litany of the seriously mediocre offerings that mainstream USA regards as worthy. The stuff that masquerades as real rawk…No thank you. Some critic in The New York Times recently negatively compared Coldplay to the likes of The Police and Nirvana (Teen Spirit was a classic single but Nirvana was really all about mainstream America discovering what the rest of the planet had known for a decade...they were the ultimate and inevitable corporatisation of the punk dream, and more to the point, they gave the world the odious Foo Fighters, another band the American media regards as worthy) and decried the lack of “worthy” “bands” in 2006. Oh dear…

And I no longer understand the use of “bands”. The media still loves the term but contemporary musical forms moved beyond the simplistic nature of that straightjacket years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great noisy trio or quartet. There is a beauty in the chaos of the electric rock band that is not repeated anywhere else, but the traditional band is simply such a small part of the language of pop music now that its time to get over it, it really is.

Phil FuemanaPere UbuLeroy BurgessFK

I’m still scouting around the edges of that album list and I guess I’ll get there eventually but the twelve inch single is as important in my life musically as the album, probably more so truth be known, thus it makes more sense for me to start there. The 12” vinyl single, born in New York City in the mid seventies out of demand and necessity from the clubs, and delivered by the seminal independent black and disco labels of the era, is perhaps the greatest musical medium of the past thirty years.

The resounding and crucial influence of the first generation of Jamaican dub remixes and the likes of King Tubby edged the medium to the next level.It opened doors and expanded the contemporary musical artform as nothing else did.

The CD was simply a delivery package, which as often as not removed the need to be concise, but the 12” did, and still does, allow the musician, the producer, or the remixer, a new vista with no boundaries beyond the self imposed. The intended end use generally imposes a conciseness that the CD lacks. And an audio depth and warmth that the CD can still only hint at.

MAWHolgar CzukayJamie PrincipalPaul Rutherford

I have to wonder what a mind like Duke Ellington would’ve done with modern recording techniques and a twelve inch format. The 12” single, when utilised to advantage is so much more than a song on a bigger bit of vinyl for marketing purposes. Whole genres exist primarily on 12” single and countless artists and producers use the medium almost exclusively for their work. Others, such as David Morales and Frankie Knuckles, have made serious albums which are averagely pleasant, or redundantly dull, but they, as remixers, verge on the genius when they design for the twelve inch vinyl single.

For me, the impossibility of listing my 100 greatest 12” singles was immediately obvious as they rolled off the keyboard and I decided to modify the brief to 100 singles that I couldn’t live without, and even that didn’t work.

I applied a few rules: Firstly, the record had to be a vinyl single I owned, secondly it should not be newer than 2000, which meant it had to exist within a 25 year span, and had to have staying power beyond the rush of a great new record; thirdly I was going to try to limit myself to one single per artist. This last rule was broken several times and there are also times when I decided, as with Todd Terry, simply to put in a representative record to cover a whole bunch that I really couldn’t do without. Actually all the rules were broken except the first. And now I sit here thinking of records I’ve missed and there are so damn many.

Todd TerryAlexander O'NealPete ShelleyMichael Watford

I’m quite proud to have been responsible for the first 12” single released in NZ; the first 12” remix released by an NZ artist; and the first 12” house track written and released in NZ. The first two are in this list but the last is, thankfully, not.

Oh, and there are really 119 records in this list….so, in rough alphabetical order (and the listed label herein is the one on my copy so please, no trainspotter-ish “it came out on….”)…and no links or scans..its a labour of love not stupidity..

And, damn, I forgot about Ice T’s Colours, The K-Scope EP, Acid Eiffel, Cubik, Looney Tunes, Hooligan 69, In and Out, Come Into My Life, The Way, The Gas Face, Alright, The Jungle, Weekend, Carino…..