The Greatest Number 1s…Ever! Part 2: Atomic

As the 1970s gave way to the 80s, New Wave was splicing. Talking Heads had found African rhythms and Brian Eno. Blondie had gone in a different direction: disco. Moroder had stamped his authority over another of their hits, ‘Heart of Glass‘ and the style was evident still in this epic cut, although produced by longstanding producer Mike Chapman. The track is build around an instantaneous riff, driving disco bass,  siren-esque vocals, a blistering breakdown; ‘Atomic‘ not only represents a high-point for Blondie, this is simply one of the greatest dance tracks of all time. And my favourite ever number one.

Atomic‘ hit number one in the UK in February 1980, remaining at the summit for two weeks. This was pretty much Blondie at the peak of their chart powers, only four singles followed before an acrimonious split in 1982. The track came to my attention first through a cover by Britpop also-rans Sleeper, lifted from the soundtrack to Trainspotting, a version devoid of the creeping sense of danger the original posseses. The sheer brilliance of ‘Atomic‘ has been further spread by it’s inspired inclusion on GTA: Vice City, whose soundtrack encompasses the very best (and some of the worst!) sounds of the early 80s.

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The Greatest Number 1s…Ever! Part 1: The Masses Against The Classes


The first number one of the 2000s, and one of the Welsh trio’s very best. Sandwiched betwixt two utter slabs of utter drivel (Westlife’s ‘Seasons In The Sun‘ and Britney Spears’ ‘I Was Born To Make You Happy‘), it is one of the very, very few songs in the modern era to hit the top without the help of a video, hence the live performance up top. This release also marked the start of some interesting chart tactics from the Manics, following this in 2001 they released both ‘Found That Soul‘ and ‘So Why So Sad‘ on the same day, with both tracks charting in the Top 10 in the UK. ‘The Masses Against The Classes‘ was deleted on the day of release, giving it a short 7 week span on the charts.

The track itself is a definite change of style from the album that preceded it, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, and a marker for the kind of track prevalent on the album that followed it, Know Your Enemy. Starting with a quote from Chomsky, ending with one from Camus, featuring a stylised Cuban flag on the cover, and with a title borrowed from Gladstone, everything about this release screams the band’s socialist agenda. Thankfully unlike later efforts like ‘…Richard Nixon‘ it works when hooked up to some of the rawest music they have produced since becoming a trio.

The Manic Street Preachers
The Masses Against The Classes
Number 1: January 22 2000
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