On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
The Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats (1997)
” Block Rockin’ Beats” is a song by British big beat duo The Chemical Brothers. Released as the second single from their second album, Dig Your Own Hole , in March 1997, it topped the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 40 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart.
We’re continuing in the UK, dear reader, but leaving London and making our way north to Manchester. Formed in 1989, The Chemical Brothers are an electronic duo made up of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons. They were one of the pioneers of the big beat genre which gained popularity in the 1990s. We join the duo in 1997 with the release of their second album – Dig Your Own Hole – and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Block Rockin’ Beats.
Lyrically, I have little to tell you about Block Rockin’ Beats. It is essentially a repetition of the line, “Back with another one of those block rockin’ beats.” The song’s strength is in the music which samples a range of other artists. Even the vocals themselves are a sample. With frenetic drumming and some groovy basslines, there is a lot packed into the track. Sampled artists include Schooly D, 23 Skidoo and The Crusaders. The opening bass line has been compared to Pink Floyd’s Let There Be More Light, which I honestly picked up independently.
Block Rockin’ Beats is a fast-paced electronic behemoth. Wherever you stand on sampling other artists, The Chemical Brothers do so here to great effect. I do recall this track when it was first released and it topping the UK charts. Although catchy, it’s not the sort of music you would tend to find me listening to if I am honest. The duo’s popularity renders my opinion irrelevant of course and they continue to perform to this day.
Favourite songs so far: