John Peel Belfast

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

This is not a best 45s ever released list.....

There is something about the seven inch vinyl single, something that the CD single, and the cassingle (which must be the silliest, most useless format ever - at least the CD is convenient and usually works as it's designed to) could - and can - never aspire too. Both are unappealingly pointless and instantly irrelevant as a keepsake. The small round, iconic seven inch however, as rough as it sounds sometimes (and that, of course, is a part of its joy, the audio shittiness bought on by its intended disposability) defines the pop song and is the philosophical parent of the mp3 in its disposability. Something the record companies still don’t get....

I’ve got thousands of the ridiculous things and I still buy the odd one. In reggae, indie rock and other niche styles it still thrives albeit on the edge of the public consciousness - to whom it is mostly a museum format. One of my favourite records of last year, Ice Cream by New Young Pony Club, was only on 7”. But you can’t deny that the 7” was a record that completely defined its time - and that its time is largely gone. Hence this list mostly derives from my most frenzied seven inch buying period - from about 1974 through to the mid eighties - plus a bunch of records from the sixties that came firstly from the jukebox leftovers my dad used to bring home in the late sixties, and thence after from my fevered and addicted rustling through the junk shops of the nation over the next decade or so.

Similar rules apply to this list as did to my 12’’ one earlier - I have to own the physical copy, the cut-off is 2000, and there was only to be one from each act.

This list is noticeably whiter (or perhaps less black) than the earlier twelve inch list, reflecting my punk and beat roots (although I had a big jazz fixation as a late teen and I also eagerly swooped on every soul and r’n’b single I could find, but in mostly monochromatic New Zealand, Motown aside, these were rare beasts) but also the fact that soul & hip-hop singles and the such, after 1977 or so were largely 12” formatted, with the 7”version being an aside for chart purposes.

And, like the 12’s, this makes not claim to strive for a list of the greatest seven inch singles ever, it's just my list: the records that I look at with some joy and reverence when I come across them on a day; a gathering of little round black things that rocked or changed my world.

I’m not trying to create a definitive list of anything. And I'm realy doing it for me.

There are the obvious records here for sure, but nothing like the scarily obvious and pointless list that US journalist Dave Marsh did of the 1001 essential singles. I hate that sort of thing.

So, once again, in no real order except a vague alphabetical one (and when I note the B side it’s because it matters as much as the top side to me):


There are - of course - massive gaps in this list (off the top of my head: Alternative TV / Chuck Berry / Aaron Neville / Chris Knox / Ramones / The Temptations / Mary Wells / Benny Spellman / Max Merritt / Japan / Gladiators... and on and on and on), some of which I address in the album list and the 12" list, but realistically this thing could go on forever, but that is the nature of random lists like this....


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