When I had the idea of a playlist of tracks that peaked at No.8 I was very pleased with myself. That’s clever, I thought. This will be easy.
I was wrong.
Firstly, it involved a painstaking evening on Wikipedia digging through the best-selling records in the UK singles chart since 1960. Secondly, even though I had massively whittled the choice down from tens of thousands of tracks to a little under 700 there were still some absolute classics and I promised myself I could only pick 20.
The only place I could start this list was with Purple Rain! What a result, probably the most iconic song by my all-time favourite artist! In my eyes Prince is the most talented person to have ever graced this planet, how did this only make No.8! I know a few of you might check this, and yes, it did actually go to number six for a week in 2016 when he died but I’m not counting that! Feel free to troll me, I like the attention!
I’m a club kid at heart and the next two really remind me of a nightclub called The End. It was owned by Mr C from The Shaman and Layo (& Bushwacka!) Paskin. The sound system in the main room is a thing of legend and I spent many a night / next day in that dark sweaty basement! Dooms Night was a huge crossover record, it was massive in the clubs and also had big commercial success. Higher State is one of the most iconic records in dance music history. I have seen Josh Wink DJ a few times and you can always feel the crowd waiting for this to drop!
Staying in that area three house classics in a row. Adamski’s Killer, Anthem by N Joi and Todd Terry – Keep on Jumpin’. I actually saw Jocelyn Brown at the Jazz café a few months ago. She is getting old and pretty frail, but that voice still got the whole place jumpin’!
Next up a bit of hip-hop. As well as techno and house, this is probably the genre I listen to most. Although huge in the US hip-hop hasn’t had the same commercial success this side of the pond. N.W.A, Gang Starr, NAS and A Tribe Called Quest haven’t had a single UK top 10 single between them! Although House of Pain and DJ Kool are definitely in the more commercial end of the pool these are still great tracks and The Message is a total classic.
Smack my Bitch Up and Karma Police made the list not just because they are brilliant records but also because they had incredible videos. Music promos were what made me want to get into this business in the first place and this was a golden period where directors like Jonathan Glazer and Jonas Akerlund (along with Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry) were the rock stars of the industry.
From there I’m going for a few tracks that remind me of secondary school. Blue Boy’s Remember Me is one of those tracks that sticks in your head and you hear yourself singing it out loud for hours after you hear it, but in a good way. I was definitely more in the Blur rather than Oasis camp, probably the Essex connection! There’s No Other Way wasn’t one of their biggest hits but listening to it again it really stands the test of time. I don’t think I need to say much about Fools Gold? Sixties psychedelia for the acid house generation. Incredible was huge in Chelmsford. All the local jungle DJ’s banging it out in the back rooms of pubs whilst amateur MC’s name checked the hardest people in the room, so they didn’t get a kicking at closing time. Coincidently General Levy came into No.8 for a VO on a Radio spot recently. Total legend as you would expect.
Next up, just a bit of summer fun with Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff, Sister Sledge and The Jackson Five! I’m writing this over a glorious August Bank Holiday weekend, and these just feel appropriate
Last but not least a couple of songs I was shocked to discover hadn’t charted any higher than No.8! Back To Black by Amy Winehouse and Yesterday by The Beatles. I’m not the world’s biggest Beatles fan but I sort of assumed every record they ever made was a number one!
That’s my lot. Hope you enjoy it.
Barny Wright is MD of No.8, a creative audio and visual studio in Soho, London.