Remember this? Back in 1979, when we were just wiping the dust of the punk revolution off our clothes, wondering what the hell was goin to come along and top THAT, along came this. Imagine, right after punk - the second era of the three-minute single - comes a slow, leaden-paced piece of electronica that clocked in at five minutes 22 seconds. A song about students, bedsits, shoegazing loners and pretentious arty references. And it made number one.
It was like punk had never bloody happened!
What this song did do, though, was usher in possibly the most sartorially-challenged decade of the last two hundred years. After Gary Numan came Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Ultravox and a whole cosmetics counter's worth of floppy-haired, tight-trousered, transistor-plucking art-school dropouts. Hey-ho.
It's hard to describe exactly what makes this a SongWithoutWhich: there's the industrial instrumentation, which comes over like a cross between a steam train and an air-raid siren, the narcoleptic beat - I believe only Black Sabbath have ever performed songs with fewer beats per minute - but most of all, it's the utterly impenetrable lyric, which you'll have to fathom for yourself. twenty-seven years on, I'm still working on this one.