Album: La Folie, 1981
Justification: I have an opiate intolerance that maens, sadly, that I will never know the peaceful joys or nagging itchiness of a full-blown heroin addiction, but I will say this: if popular music has taught me anything, it’s that smack is great. It’s given joy and inspiration to artists as diverse as Lou Reed, Miles Davis, Kurt Cobain and Paul Kelly and while yes, it does slow people down pretty considerably I challenge anyone to argue that this haunting, lilting number by the Stranglers is inferior to, say, the Thompson Twins’ anti-heroin number ‘Don’t Mess With Doctor Dream’. You can’t, so don’t try.
It’s also the single that kept the band’s commercial fortunes alive for the next decade, going top ten in Australia (among other places) and showing that the band weren’t a bunch of punk thugs. And they did it perhaps a little too well: this is by far their best-known song. And for those enthusiastic about such things: the time signature is 3/4, with an extra 4/4 bar thrown in after every third bar in the bridge. I’d argue that simple touch is what lifts this song from good to great.
One assumes that it was used by satirical university revues in the UK to lambast former prime minister Gordon Brown. If not, they really missed a trick.