Bet you can’t guess BBC radio presenter Nick Risby’s top songs of all time

Abba, in April, 1974. Photo: PA

Abba, in April, 1974. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Abba, The Beatles, Elvis, Elbow... would they be among your all-time favourites? Let us know

Queen in 1976. Photo: PA

Queen in 1976. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Music provides the backdrop to our lives, doesn't it? We asked BBC radio presenter Nick Risby to nominate the 21 songs that should be on everyone's phone ? and he agreed! Here they are, in no particular order.

Would any match yours? Send us your lists ? five, 10, 21, whatever you fancy, plus a line or two to explain why each one is special ? and we'll share them. Email steve.russell@archant.co.uk or write to him at Features Desk, Portman House,

120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS

The Who in 1968. Photo: PA

The Who in 1968. Photo: PA - Credit: PA


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1. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Two Can Have A Party

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This is the B side to You're All I Need to Get By and epitomises that great Motown sound. I remember hearing it for the first time and it's the song that introduced me to music. If ever you're feeling down in the dumps, stick this one on and smile.

The Osmonds.

The Osmonds. - Credit: Archant

2. Elbow – One Day Like This

A superb piece of music which builds and builds to an incredible climax. Memories of them playing it at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.

3. Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water

Jamie Lawson las year. Photo: Matt Crossick/PA

Jamie Lawson las year. Photo: Matt Crossick/PA - Credit: PA

Really, what's not to like! Bridge Over Troubled Water is a timeless classic. Probably Paul Simon's best work and without doubt Art Garfunkel's best ever vocal performance, harmonies, arrangement and pure genius.

4. The Who – Baba O'Riley

Growing up as a teenager with my older brother who had a best friend that was Who mad! This track not only brings back such happy times but is a must if you're ever in the mood for a bit of air-drumming! RIP Keith Moon.

The Beatles in 1967. Photo: PA

The Beatles in 1967. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

5. Make You Feel My Love

I love this song but can't decide which version of it I prefer. Written by Bob Dylan and made famous by Adele but, hey, check out Elkie Brooks singing it.

Nick Risby

Nick Risby - Credit: Archant

6. Eric Carmen – Make Me Lose Control

Best known for his power ballad All By Myself, but this track has everything. It has to be played on full volume to really appreciate the harmonies. It's a real feelgood song and the a cappella section near the end is spine-tingling, followed by the drums that nearly blow your woofer!

7. Bastille – Good Grief

I was on holiday last year in Derbyshire and this song was never off the radio whenever we got in the car: happy memories of a great week. There's a line in the song that says 'caught off guard by your favourite song'; hasn't that happened to everybody at some time or other? Until they invent a time machine, music is the best way to transport you back to a moment in time ? sometimes happy, sometimes sad!

8. Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – Can't Take My Eyes Off You

If you haven't managed to see Jersey Boys yet, do it please. Probably the best West End show I've ever seen. I'm not big on audience participation but I challenge you to stay in your seat for the entire performance. The song has been covered by so many people over the years but Frankie's version is the best for me.

9. Jamie Lawson – Wasn't Expecting That

You've got to love a song with a story, and the lyrics to this one are amazing. For very personal reasons it's my all-time favourite.

10. Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell

Another holiday memory. Wales last year and I downloaded the whole album to my car to listen to it when driving through Snowdonia. Jim Steinman deserves a knighthood for his production skills. Bat Out of Hell is probably the best driving song recorded, tapping your fingers on the steering wheel and trying to match Meat Loaf with his vocals. Try playing this and not joining in.

11. Elvis Presley – Can't Help Falling in Love

I never quite 'got' Elvis until after his death, but now I fully understand people's fascination with The King. That man could really sing. He reinvented himself more times than David Bowie and I remember dancing to this song with the most beautiful woman in the world.

12. Queen – Save Me

How could I complete a list of great songs without a Queen track? Save lulls you into a false sense of security. You're expecting a ballad but, oh boy, are you wrong. Freddie Mercury belts it out and Brian May comes in three quarters of the way through with his unmistakable guitar. How does he create that instantly-recognisable sound?

13. Osmonds – Let Me In

Okay, bear with me on this one. As a 14-year-old boy it was just not allowed to like The Osmonds! Now, in my 50s, I'm allowed to say 'Do you know what? They made some great music.' Boyzone, Westlife, 1D, JLS... stand back and admire the tight vocal harmonies of these Utah brothers, especially on this track.

14. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Young Blood

The first time I heard this song I fell in love with it: not just Sophie's stunning vocal but the haunting piano and incredible orchestration. I loved it so much I bought the album, Wanderlust, and it's been one of my go-to albums to listen to in the car on my frequent trips up and down the A12.

15. Stevie Wonder – Superstition

Surely one of the best riffs ever, this is also a bit of an ear-worm for me. If I listen to it, I end up humming the riff all day.

16. The Beatles – I Feel Fine

The Beatles have to feature on the list but why I Feel Fine? It's instantly recognisable from the opening note and sums up what Beatlemania was all about. Their sixth number one and second of four Christmas number ones.

17. Leona Lewis – Run

Okay, I'm not big on The X Factor and haven't watched a single episode for years, but Leona Lewis brings this Snow Patrol song to life. It's a brilliantly written song anyway, but Leona's vocals are outstanding.

18. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

The Boss is a must if you feel like belting out a tune in the shower! The saxophone break in Born to Run is pure class, and when he gets to the 1-2-3-4 bit I'm totally hooked.

19. Carpenters – Goodbye to Love

When Carpenters were at their peak I was too young to appreciate them, but I remember announcing Karen Carpenter's death on my breakfast show and it hit me hard. Goodbye to Love shows off Karen's incredible vocal range and had one of the best guitar breaks in popular music, played by the late Tony Peluso.

20. Michael Buble – Home

He's a bit like Marmite: you either like him or you don't. I'm on the like side. Home is simply a beautiful ballad, and if you've ever really missed somebody, then this a real tear-jerker.

21. Abba – Dancing Queen

Benny and Bjorn are geniuses and the vocals on this song from Anni-Frid and Agnetha are outstanding. Try singing this next time you go to a karaoke night and you'll be amazed how the girls cover such a wide range. Dancing Queen was always a massive floor-filler back in the day, and for me it's just timeless.

Nick Risby has been presenting radio programmes since 1979 and settled in Suffolk in the 1980s.

You can hear him on weeknights. His show, from 10pm, goes out across BBC radios Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

'One of my listeners to the late show referred to it as 'The biggest social club in the world', which is a huge compliment,' he says. 'Being on the air at that time of night has a really intimate feel to it and it's great to be a small part of people's lives.'

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