May 07

ALICE COOPER – “School’s Out”

FT + Popular70 comments • 7,375 views

#317, 12th August 1972

Go ask Alice 

My first French teacher was a great heap of a man who I remember for his sweat patches and his bitterness and the way he changed the seating plan in the class around every few weeks, based on test results. If you came first, you got to sit front and center, and the rest of the class would zig-zag back behind you until the back row was filled with the worst half-dozen students, so he and they could ignore one another. This was a poor motivational tactic, as Monsieur M. smelt bad and if you did well you were best placed for a whiff of him. I was either too guileless or scared or proud to do badly, and so I ended up at the front, a lot, nose full of sweat while I glumly conjugated.

Monsieur M’s seating policy simply locked down the social divisions that exist in every school anyway. If I’d had free choice I might have tried to sink into the anonymity of the middle two rows, but I wouldn’t have chosen the back. As an illustration of why, the kids in the middle rows liked pop music, which I liked. The kids at the back liked hard rock and metal, which I didn’t.

This being 1983, pop music meant Duran Duran and hard rock didn’t mean Alice Cooper, it meant Maiden and Priest and especially AC/DC. The biggest tracks – the ones passed round on walkman headphones on class trips – were AC/DC’s “The Jack” and the one which goes “I’ve got big balls”. Even as a front-of-the-class guy, I heard those a lot. And when I heard “School’s Out” for the first time, years later, that was the world I fitted it into.

Of course, this was a boys’ school in the heart of Home Counties England, and we were all upper middle class kids, so the ones at the back of the class weren’t hoods or bullies – even if they aspired to be tough kids, and flirted with an idea of toughness that AC/DC was an access to. I wasn’t scared of them – didn’t like them either, but the overwhelming macro-system of social class was enough to jam most of the more tribal signals that might have been starting to reach our 10-11 year old brains, so there was never a sense of threat from the kids themselves. I projected the threat onto the music, a little: without ever actually listening to it I assumed hard rock would be something too savage for me, too aggressive, exclusionary and shrivelling and mocking. It wasn’t, mostly, which in a strange way explains to me why so much rock has been so disappointing to me. Why, I wondered, was it so easy to take?

Alice Cooper, like a lot of the music I would have assumed to be scary at 10, aren’t scary here: Alice is energetic, flamboyant, blazing with life, aggressive in a showy way but not really threatening, even to the school or the teachers. I don’t remotely mean that as a criticism: “School’s Out” is a glorious kid’s fantasy of the end of school, a playground brag, a smile at the days when “for Summer” and “forever” could happily smush together and when school’s summertime erasure was so complete that it might well have been blown to pieces. The rising glee on the “No more teachers” chant carries the real sting – mockery being a far more likely weapon for kids than explosives. But mostly this is rampaging boy exuberance, captured perfectly in that crunching, pealing opening riff. (Honestly, have guitars ever sounded as full and sweet as in the glam era?)

Maybe if I’d listened to more rock I wouldn’t have kept landing in the front row, or maybe I’d have found a way to balance liking it and landing there. Life is full of maybes and it doesn’t really matter, except that by not listening to Maiden or AC/DC in my teens I seem to have blocked a way to really loving them now. “School’s Out” dissolves my rock block, just like it offers a way to dissolve the front-row/back-row split by unimagining school completely: in the end I like it because it’s such an inclusive, generous record.




  1. 1
    Richard B on 15 May 2007 #

    Thanks for a wonderfully evocative review. Reflects my own feelings about rock, about growing up in the 80s, and about this record, perfectly. Only now I’m all grown up can I appreciate how clever and charming it is – a fully grown man imagining himself as a schoolchild, in order to share a feeling with them.

    It’s the same reason why I’ve – slowly – come to love ‘Baggy Trousers’ by Madness, which pulls off the exact same trick. Contrast this with Pink Floyd’s horrible ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ which does the exact opposite – projecting very adult views and perspectives onto the school experience to make a clever-clever political point.

  2. 2
    Tom on 15 May 2007 #

    I loved “Baggy Trousers” when it came out (and ever since really) even though its description of the school experience had very little to do with mine – it was and is like a Bash Street Kids strip come to aural life.

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 15 May 2007 #

    I was eight when “School’s Out” came out and AC went on TOTP and thereafter to number one. It scared the shit out of me, which I guess was the point.

    The older one gets, of course, the more visible the strings and the showbiz, so I’m rather ambivalent about it now in a “yes, Alice, very good, now away and play golf with Tony Danza” sense and much prefer “I’m Eighteen” and “Elected” as records and, particularly, performances – but it certainly worked at the time and outraged my headmaster at primary school so much that he spent ten minutes denouncing the record one morning at school assembly.

    The next step on from Arthur Brown and his Calor gas colander, I suppose.

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 15 May 2007 #

    This recording is particularly well-deployed at the beginning of Richard Linklater’s ‘Dazed & Confused’, where it plays over scenes of classes disbanding at a Texas high school on the last days of Summer term 1976, as menacing bullies gather outside.

  5. 5
    Rosie on 15 May 2007 #

    Couldn’t have been more appropriate for me, I’d just left school, just passed my eighteenth birthday, just had my first legal drink (served with a wry grin by the guv’nor of the Waggoners, where I and my friends had been weekend regulars for ages), and was embarking on the long, anarchic summer before uni.

    And it caught the mood perfectly. I hear it now and I’m transported back to those days. I can feel the slightly clammy sunshine, smell new-mown grass (I was working as a skivvy in a rural management training centre for the summer), and feel the thrill of new-found liberation and irresponsibility.

    The track that catches the mood even more effectively was Argent’s Hold Your Head Up, which was a biggish hit but won’t be troubling us. Its shimmering organ just is the sound of summer for me.

    Eight’s a good call, I reckon.

  6. 6
    Erithian on 15 May 2007 #

    I’d recently seen a Granada programme showcasing Pentangle in concert, so when I saw the unfamiliar name “Alice Cooper” in the TV listings for that Thursday’s TOTP I remember thinking that she might be a Jacqui McShee-type folky light vocalist. Hmmm. Instead it was one of those classic moments you talk about in the playground the following morning, “blimey-did-you-see-THAT-it’s-gotta-be-number-one”.

    I was only ten and it was primary school, so to me and my friends it was pure end-of-term feelgood, and yes a fantastic guitar sound. None of the malevolence of Pink Floyd, as Richard points out – when I hear that “we don’t need no education”, I think “yes you do, you bunch of scruffs”, while School’s Out and Baggy Trousers make me think “yes, I’ve been there, felt that”.

    This was one of a couple of iconic late-’72 TOTP performances featuring people from the audience, as at that time they used to have dancers quite close to the performers. Remember the girl Alice pulls towards him for a dance, who doesn’t look fazed at all and has a good time doing the Bump? The other one is the geeky-looking lad in the sleeveless pullover who gets in shot between Bowie and Mick Ronson during “Starman”, watching himself in the monitor. I wonder if they cringe every time those clips get shown?

    Number 2 Watch – this could have been the hairiest 1-2 in chart history. Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine” stalled at 3 while Alice was number one, the pair being split by Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs (aka Jona Lewie) with “Seaside Shuffle”. What a great summer.

  7. 7
    intothefireuk on 15 May 2007 #

    AC was one of the acts that made TOTP compulsory viewing in ’72 & beyond. An outrageous performance guaranteed you were the talk of the playground for the next few weeks (see also Bowie, Glitter etc) and no doubt thrust you firmly in the direction of number one. AC were, at the time, seen as a glam act, it was only in later years they were placed back into the rock rack. I remember also finding AC a little unsettling but SO did sum up that sod school lets party feeling – personally I couldn’t wait for school to break for summer. It used to be said that school days are your best days – well mine never were and ACs one fingered salute feels about right to me.

  8. 8
    Pete on 15 May 2007 #

    A song must be really good when the Daphne & Celeste cover of it ISN’T better!

  9. 9
    jeff w on 15 May 2007 #

    I’ve not heard the D&C version, but I do own a cover of this by Emma ‘Wild Child’ Ridley. It’s not very good: the plays on words – “class”, “princip(les)/(als)”, etc – clearly go straight over her head.

  10. 10
    Rosie on 16 May 2007 #

    Where’s my response gone? I swear I posted it and when I tried to repost I was warned of a duplicate post…

  11. 11

    might have gone into the industrial-strength spam filter, rosie — it gobbles mine like nobody’s business and i’m on the management team!

  12. 12

    there you go!

  13. 13
    Erithian on 16 May 2007 #

    P-nk Lord – you have a filter and the word “gobbles” gets through?!!

    Rosie – Argent, yeahh, lovely song. There were some great underrated singles in ’72 which won’t be troubling us, by not-many-hit wonders: Lindisfarne’s “Meet Me on the Corner” and Blackfoot Sue’s “Standing in the Road” come swiftly to mind.

  14. 14
    Alan on 16 May 2007 #

    I very much hope that when logged in you should no longer be getting marked as spam.


  15. 15
    jeff w on 16 May 2007 #

    “Standing in the Road” would be perfect for the poptimism podcast. I shall try and locate an mp3.

  16. 16
    Mark Grout on 16 May 2007 #

    Emma Ridley’s version!

    I have this on VHS cassette taped off “Night Network” being reviewed by Mark E Smith!

    God, “Night Network” had loads of golden nuggets like that!

  17. 17
    doofuus2003 on 17 May 2007 #

    This is a great No.1, and so was Elected (if it got there)My favourite remains No More Mr Nice Guy (I opened doors for little old ladies, indeed)
    Sorry not a dynamic entry, but felt I should remark on the return of Popular updates – I missed them

  18. 18
    Waldo on 17 May 2007 #

    The first time I heard “School’s Out” was when Tony Blackburn (for it was he) went totally out of character (and then some) and choose it as his record of the week when it was first released. I was eleven and about to start secondary school at a hellish South London comprehensive. The track took my young head off and the follow up “Elected” was just as good with a cracking arrangement. Teachers and politicians. Don’t you just want to hug ’em?

    Erithian – Good tracks. Might I also add “Sylvia” by Focus and “Say You Don’t Mind” by Colin Blunstone?

  19. 19
    Johnney B on 17 May 2007 #

    LOL at Alice Cooper@the Muppet show!

  20. 20
    fivelongdays on 17 May 2007 #

    See, what you have to say is something I can identify with…except I was in the mid 90s and I was one of the kids who would’ve been towards the front – and I was into metal.

    If that made sense.

  21. 21
    Tom on 17 May 2007 #

    What were the kids at the back into then?

  22. 22
    Doctor Casino on 19 May 2007 #

    As usual, I’m indebted to the mentions of obscure British singles that made not a dent over here – I’m listening to “Hold Your Head Up” right now and it’s totally great. One of the liquidiest organ sounds I’ve ever heard.

    As for “School’s Out,” it’s impossible to dislike but it stirs no particular associations for me except maybe the “History of Rock and Roll” special that used to run on PBS. It’s never been a major classic-rock staple; I’m surprised to discover how unfamiliar I am with it upon hearing it now. It’s good stuff though! Gotta love “We got no class, and we got no principals” (principles). That’s good, that.

  23. 23
    Marcello Carlin on 20 May 2007 #

    But the best line has to be – “We can’t even think of a word that rhymes!”

  24. 24
    richard hillman on 21 May 2007 #

    I left school after O levels that summer; what a great LP for the time. Remember the original sleeve with the paper knickers (I think i gave them to Felicity Markham). John Topping vomited in the plastic sleeve at a party.

    I have my ‘play this at my funeral’ CD all prepared, and ‘Alma Mater’ is the penultimate track thereon: brilliant, chilling, sad……..it would have been the final track as i go to my resting place, but frankly couldn’t resist Roxy’s ‘Both ends burning’ for the cremation.

  25. 25
    Erithian on 22 May 2007 #

    Back to Tony Blackburn for a moment – it was around this time that Tone had a two-week feature on his show where he played the top 100 best-selling number one singles of the past ten years, i.e. 1962-72. It was a good primer in music history, as in many cases it was the first time I’d heard the songs. And the fact that five of the top six were Beatles songs – the exception being “Tears” at number 3 – emphasised their importance. Anyone else on here remember that top 100?

  26. 26
    Marcello Carlin on 22 May 2007 #

    Can’t say that I do. Personally I would have thought “Stranger On The Shore” would have walked it.

  27. 27
    Erithian on 22 May 2007 #

    Would have walked a list of the best selling number two singles of the period!

  28. 28
    Marcello Carlin on 22 May 2007 #

    It was number one on both the NME and BBC charts – as usual (“Please Please Me,” nearly all subsequent Beatles singles straight in at number one first week, etc.) Record Retailer just had to be different.

    I’m assuming that “She Loves You” came top.

  29. 29
    Erithian on 22 May 2007 #

    That’s right – “I Want To Hold Your Hand” no 2, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “I Feel Fine” and “Day Tripper” at 4 to 6. When Channel 4 did a definitive Top 100 of the chart era in 2002, the period covered by Blackburn’s chart occupied 16 of the 100 places.

  30. 30
    Waldo on 22 May 2007 #

    Yes, I too claerly remember Blackburn’s Top 100 and “She Loves You” was indeed top. I’m so tragic that I actually recall John Noakes being on air when Tony revealed which record had won the thing after just having played “Back Off Boogaloo” by Ringo Starr – I should really be sectioned for holding this in my memory.

    The “Stranger On The Shore” debate has always been a mute point but the fact is that the disc peaked at Number Two, as Erithian says, although it stayed in the the chart for months. It also has the distinction of being the first record by a British artist to top the charts in The United States. The first group/band were The Tornados not long after.

  31. 31
    Marcello Carlin on 23 May 2007 #

    The first record by a British artist since Vera Lynn.

    The fact is that the disc peaked at Number Two in one chart as I clearly stated above. The Record Retailer lists were by no means the definitive or official ones prior to the BMRB’s standardisation of the chart in February 1969; the NME chart carried far more credibility in the industry and it is a shame that copyright issues prevented it from being used as the official record for Guinness, as it should have been.

  32. 32
    Erithian on 23 May 2007 #

    Marcello, I meant to address this subject in a few entries’ time, apropos of singles going straight in at number one – only “Get Back” had done so in over a decade, and it happened four times in 1973 – but since you’ve moved onto it now, let me ask (as you seem to be well informed on this). How did the Record Retailer chart come to be the “accepted” one? You hint at copyright issues preventing the NME chart being used for the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles – but the Guinness book first came out in 1976, and the previous “authoritative” book I had, Tony Jasper’s “20 Years of British Record Charts” from 1975, used the same chart as Guinness.

    I heard someone say once that before the BMRB there were three or four versions of the chart which were no more definitive than a variety of pre-election opinion polls, but I guess, given the NME’s circulation, its chart was, as you say, more credible than the rest. So in the eyes of most people at the time, “Please Please Me” was a number one and the Beatles habitually went straight in at one afterwards? Whatever, the Record Retailer list is the “accepted” canon now, which you no doubt see as Orwellian rewriting of history – but how exactly did it come about?

  33. 33
    Tom on 23 May 2007 #

    The Ackerphant in the room!

  34. 34
    Marcello Carlin on 23 May 2007 #

    I’ve still got that Tony Jasper book somewhere with its green cover (75p IIRC)! But II also RC that was a Record Mirror publication so it used Record Mirror charts, and since RM was published by the same publishers as Record Retailer/Music Week that presumably answers the question.

    Since Record Retailer was the principal industry magazine its Top 50 was, strictly speaking, the official industry chart but the chart was never widely circulated outside the industry and was not used for practical purposes in the media, or indeed most of the industry itself – George Martin and the Beatles, for instance, have always regarded “Please Please Me” as their legitimate first number one.

    In the sixties there were four main singles charts – the NME, Melody Maker, Record Retailer and the BBC. The BBC one tended to be a compilation or reckoning of the other three – based on points IIRC, so you might not want to trust them too much – but the NME one was generally regarded as the definitive list since it had the greatest number of chart return shops and a weekly Friday-Thursday compilation schedule which corresponded with record release dates of the time, since singles in those days were released on Fridays rather than Mondays. This for instance is why Beatles singles didn’t tend to enter at number one in the Record Retailer list since they based their chart on a Monday-to-Saturday schedule – i.e. only two days’ sales for new releases. Also, the NME chart allowed EPs, so several of their number ones (e.g. 1965’s Kinda Kinks, lead track “Well Respected Man” which reportedly outsold everything else that year bar “Tears”) do not register in Guinness at all.

    Intriguingly, “Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane” did make number one in NME but everywhere else stayed second to Engelbert and thus that has passed into historical lore.

    By 1968 there was pressure, largely from the BBC as well as certain quarters of the industry, for the chart to be standardised, and the contract was won by BMRB with effect from February 1969. Most of the 350 chart return shops in Britain registered with BMRB, with the consequence that, although NME and MM continued with their own charts, they suffered a steep decrease in sources and so became less authoritative.

  35. 35
    Erithian on 23 May 2007 #

    Marcello – that’s brilliant, answers something I’ve long wondered about – thanks.

  36. 36
    DavidM on 24 May 2007 #

    I was introduced to this in the mid-eighties when Rik sang an excerpt from it (“Schoools OUT for… EVAHHH!”) in an episode of The Young Ones. From then on I would always do the same whenever we would break for half term or anything.
    I’m not to keen on the actual track, however.

  37. 37
    wichita lineman on 22 May 2008 #

    Thanks for that Marcello, but I’m confused by the 40 Years Of NME Charts book I’ve got that has Strawberry Fields stop at 2 and no best-selling claims for Kwyet Kinks (which does turn up a lot but not toooo often).

  38. 38
    Matt DC on 23 May 2008 #

    I’ve never been able to separate this record from its essential cartoonishness, it’s always been associated with the Bash Street Kids in my mind. Still love it though.

  39. 39
    DJ Punctum on 23 May 2008 #

    I double checked my copy of said NME publication and you’re right – both might have been number one on Melody Maker.

  40. 40
    lonepilgrim on 2 Jul 2008 #

    I spent a large part of the summer break of 1972 on holiday in Denmark so I was a bit detached from the charts. I think ‘School’s out’ had already got to number 1 by the time I got back but I had no hesitation about buying it – probably the third or fourth single I owned. It introduced the idea of pop/rock as provocation in a form that I could claim as my own. It coincided with me moving from a ‘Middle School’ to a Secondary School in what would now be Year 8 and there was the added sense of subversion in that both my parents were teachers.
    The first album I owned was ‘School’s Out’ which I must have got for Christmas and I went on to get ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ and ‘Muscle of Love’ as well before my tastes/allegiances changed.

  41. 41
    ian mccolm on 11 Jul 2008 #

    Actually, this record stands the test of time in the sense of bringing back INSTANTLY all the sights/smells/feelings etc that I had on (some of) the occassions I heard it.

    I was 20 at the time (which oddly feels a little old for this record, I don’t know why), but to me it was like the pop equivalent of the first track on Led Zeppelin’s first LP, Communication Breakdown : you’re hooked within about half a second. (Like many others, that was the first half second I ever heard of LZ…clever layout on LP).

    It doesn’t get any better than that first half-second, but in fairness neither does it get worse.

    Think this rates a 9.

  42. 42
    henry s on 11 Jul 2008 #

    a classic riff, the chords of which are eternally displayed on Glen Buxton’s gravestone…


  43. 43
    Chris Brown on 11 Jul 2008 #

    Just in case anybody was on tenterhooks, Mark Lewisohn’s Beatles Chronicle confirms ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ as a Melody Maker Number 1, but Number 2 on NME, Disc, the BBC and of course Record Retailer.

  44. 44
    wichita lineman on 12 Jul 2008 #

    DJP, this again begs the question…. do you have all the Melody Maker charts in lever arch files? Somebody will print them, and I can’t be the only person obsessed with these wiggy details.

    Too late in the day, but it’s quite odd that Guinness didn’t persist with the NME chart (it was the first, after all) until the BBC/BMRB one was introduced in ’69. Would’ve seemed tidier as well as causing less grief. No Bachelors on Popular either!

  45. 45
    DJ Punctum on 12 Jul 2008 #

    Yes indeed, I have them in lever arch files (how did you guess?); the only problem being is that they are currently in long term residence in the extensive attic of the Carlin family home up in Lanarkshire and every time I go up there to visit my mum I keep telling myself that I’ll climb up the ladder with my Woolworth’s pocket battery torch and sort everything out but it’s a big job…

    I got a major telling off from my dad when the first Guinness Hit Singles book came out (1978?) since he reckoned I could have done it with a few weekends of research in the archives of the Mitchell Library…those dusty, pre-internet days of Proper Research, eh?…

  46. 46
    punctum on 5 Jun 2011 #

    Then Play Long gets to Alice.

  47. 47
    lonepilgrim on 19 Oct 2011 #

    Alice did a version of this last month live at the Whisky-a-Go-Go with Ke$ha – with a bit of Another Brick in the Wall thrown in for good measure.
    You can currently listen to it or download it here:

  48. 48
    Lena on 4 Dec 2012 #

    A summer hit at long last: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/prophetprofit-t-rex-children-of.html Merci for reading, everyone!

  49. 49
    Ed on 6 Dec 2012 #

    @20 It was similar at my school, with the front listening to prog and its derivatives: Queen, Floyd, Zeppelin and Rush, with the (ugh) Zappa fans right under the teachers’ nose. The middle rows’ middle-brow taste was Maiden, Sabbath and especially AC/DC. And the kids at the back – figuratively rather than literally: they were usually at the front so the teacher could keep an eye on them – listened to Chic, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and the Human League.

  50. 50
    Lazarus on 29 May 2014 #

    Did anyone see ‘Pointless’ earlier? The first round was ‘solo artists who had a UK Number One hit in the 1970s’ and the young Scot who confidently offered up Alice Cooper looked shocked when it was disallowed. I know it was more than 40 years ago – years before the contestant in question was born – but I wonder how many of the British public who were there at the time would consider ‘Alice Cooper’ to be the name of a band.

    Kudos to the man who scored a pointless answer with JJ Barrie though!

  51. 51
    wichitalineman on 30 May 2014 #

    Re 50: So harsh! The first Guinness Book from ’77 lists Alice Cooper under A, as a band, but certainly the singer was known as Alice Cooper in 1972. Did people call him Vince in interviews?

    Pointless had a round on “eponymous” films the other day – correct answers included Silkwood, Erin Brockovitch… and Highlander. That Richard Osman – his gaff, his rules, but he doesn’t seem to know what eponymous means.

  52. 52
    punctum on 30 May 2014 #

    I realised only recently that Richard Osman is the brother of Mat Osman out of Suede. Now it makes perfect sense.

  53. 53
    Andrew Farrell on 30 May 2014 #

    On my initial exposure to Alice Cooper, I briefly considered them to be a song by the band Poison!

  54. 54
    speedwell54 on 31 May 2014 #

    Re 50/51 – Harsh but fair. The same team (maybe the same guy) in the next episode had a question about musicals. Three characters from seven musicals were listed, name the musical. Mike Teevee, Violet Beauregarde and Veruca Salt. He said “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

    Wrong answer. Xander and Richard both apologised (why?)but “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” was the answer. The next team (Sharon And Tony – I know them!) got it right and only 4 people said it.

    The first team may have been better off with Family Fortunes, where they ask 100 people, and whatever they say is the answer, rightly or wrongly.

  55. 55
    wichitalineman on 31 May 2014 #

    Re 54: Why did they apologise? I dunno, probably because it’s a game show! Alice Cooper was harsher, but they could’ve allowed them Charlie & the Chocolate Factory as well. Call in the ombudsman!

  56. 56
    Ed on 31 May 2014 #

    Wikipedia, which I would trust on this, says 1975’s ‘Welcome to my Nightmare’ was the first solo Alice album: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welcome_to_My_Nightmare

    In ‘School’s Out’ days they were definitely still a band.

    Rejecting ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ is a travesty, though. The 2005 Tim Burton version is ‘Charlie and…’, and that’s a musical too, albeit with deeply inferior Danny Elfman songs. They were robbed.

  57. 57
    Lonepilgrim on 31 May 2014 #

    As a teenage fan of Alice Cooper (the band) at this time I can confirm that singer and band shared the name and that ‘Welcome to my nightmare’ was the first album by Alice Cooper without the rest of the band

  58. 58
    hectorthebat on 23 Jun 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – The Greatest Songs Ever, One Song Added Every Other Month
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 27
    Dave Marsh (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 937
    Michaelangelo Matos (USA) – Top 100 Singles of the 1970s (2001) 101
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 319
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 326
    Kerrang! (UK) – 100 Greatest Singles of All Time (2002) 97
    Paul Morley (UK) – Words and Music, 210 Greatest Pop Singles of All Time (2003)
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 748
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Q (UK) – The Ultimate Music Collection (2005)
    Sounds (UK) – The 100 Best Singles of All Time (1986) 20
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 12
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Les Inrockuptibles (France) – 1000 Indispensable Songs (2006)
    STM Entertainment (Australia) – The 50 Best Songs Ever (2007) 37
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  59. 59
    swanstep on 20 Dec 2014 #

    My nieces (8 and 10 respectively) just finished their school year down under, so I zapped them a copy of ‘School’s Out’. Their responses and having something like the experience of hearing it though their ears was illuminating: they hated it, describing it as ‘just noise’. Discussing the track with them, they thought the chorus and ‘No more pencils…’ reprise was OK (though nothing they’d ever choose to listen to), whereas the intro and verses were complete dealbreakers for them (left to their own devices they’d always run from the room and never make it as far as the chorus). Bottom line: hard-rocking guitars and snarled male vocals are completely alien to the (overwhelmingly female and electronic – Katy Perry is probably their median performer) pop world they’ve grown up in.

    Anyhow, I think it’s fair to say that there’s a genuinely loud and ragged quality to the way ‘School’s Out’ begins (possibly Arthur Brown is a model here as someone mentioned above, but also Stooges and the MC5). Compared to SO, the hits and semi-hits of this time from Bolan and Bowie and even Led Zep. and Sabbath do feel smoother, more produced and polished, more ready to fit on playlist radio in perpetuity. Cooper’s proudly primitive I suppose, and evidently still scary if you’re the right age! For me a:

  60. 60
    flahr on 20 Dec 2014 #

    they hated it, describing it as ‘just noise’

    This is just utterly wonderful. It’s like there’s some sort of pop Kondratiev cycles or something.

  61. 61
    Phil on 2 Oct 2015 #

    This was #1 just before my 12th birthday – and yes, lots of people (including my maths teacher, memorably) made the natural assumption that Alice Cooper was a girl’s name; even when you knew it was an itchily transgressive bit of knowledge, something like how it must have been for kids finding out that Marilyn Manson was (a) a he & (b) named after Charlie.

    I identified with Bowie, idolised Marc Bolan, regarded the entirety of Slade with nothing more than disdain and thought Roy Wood was a very good thing (and Actually Quite An Accomplished Musician Actually). But Alice Cooper scared me. The cudgelling simplicity of the chords, the volume, the black leather, the black eye makeup, the oh my God is that an actual sword? he’s got a sword! It felt like this was the real thing, and you were a bit afraid to ask what that thing was.

  62. 62
    Erithian on 29 Dec 2015 #

    Since this was number one when Hawkwind were number three, here seems an appropriate place to mark the passing of the one and only Lemmy. RIP.

  63. 63
    Cumbrian on 29 Dec 2015 #

    You know Lemmy once rode a motorbike out of his own grave, right?


    Saw Motorhead live a couple of times. Awesome is an overused word but they actually were awesome, in that I was in awe of how they were creating that sound. Also with Just Cos You Got The Power, Lemmy was 21 years ahead of the financial crash in taking casino bankers to task.

  64. 64
    Jimmy the Swede on 30 Dec 2015 #

    I too caught the Motorhead bug back in the day and like Cumbrian saw them a couple of times, Bomber and Ace of Spade tours. Wonderful times. And let us not forget that Philthy Animal Taylor also left us last month. Lemmy though was a one -off. Awesome indeed.

    Cumbrian – Have you been affected by the floods, btw?

  65. 65
    Cumbrian on 30 Dec 2015 #

    Thanks for asking Jimmy. Not personally – I am an exile now, living in London – but Mum and Dad had a very narrow escape. Their house is set a little back off the pavement and up two steps – the flood water lapped over the bottom step at its highest point. They need to do some looking at the house to make sure that there hasn’t been any major unseen ingress but they’re a lot better off than many of their neighbours (they live about 200 yards from the football ground as the crow flies, so the area was pretty heavily flooded – they’ve taken someone in as a lodger for a bit).

    The obvious issue at the moment is how to prevent it happening again – both in the immediate and long term. More rain is going to fall on already saturated ground, so the next month or so, at minimum, is likely to be pretty stressful.

  66. 66
    Jimmy the Swede on 31 Dec 2015 #

    Thanks, Cumbrian. Glad your folks are okay. Extraordinary rainfall up there and, as you say, it looks set to continue. I’m sure everybody here on Popular will be sparing a thought for the people affected as we turn into a New Year.

  67. 67

    yes, good popular thoughts to any readers whose neighbours or loved ones are in peril or distress, from floods or anything else :(

    (i grew up in shrewsbury and am familiar with floods i fear)

  68. 68
    Jimmy the Swede on 31 Dec 2015 #

    I think the Swede and His Lordship have discussed this in another part of the Popular world but the photo he put on the link above puts one in mind of Shrewsbury Town FC when they used to play at the wonderfully named Gay Meadow on the very banks of the Severn. The club employed an old lag in a boat to patrol up and down on match days with the singular task of retrieving balls whumped out of the ground and into the river. I actually based a character from my first novel on him. The Shrewsbury boatman was a magnificent salty old bugger and I wouldn’t mind betting he never left Shropshire apart from the time when he was inconvenienced by Hitler.

  69. 69

    not even a boat: it was a CORACLE! i think it is now in a local museum

  70. 70
    Gareth Parker on 5 May 2021 #

    I agree with Tom’s 8/10; still an exciting record, in my opinion.

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