Sunday, 12 May 2013

La La La London I Love you - 10 London songs

I posted a music video chart of songs about specific London locations, but there are plenty of songs that name London itself in the title. And as someone born, living and probably dying in this great capital city, I wanted to honour that. So here's 10 songs honouring (in most cases) my beloved city.

1) "London Calling" - The Clash
No surprises with this choice, THE London punk rock band from under the Westway, calling out London's first legitimate claim to lord it over Manchester and Liverpool as being the centre of a music force in the form of punk rock. It couldn't have happened without London's pub rock music venues, art colleges and certain clothes emporiums. Didn't last long mind, as power soon returned up North, to Manchester and even Sheffield for a while. Maybe Dubstep will reassert primacy for London music once again.

2) "London Girl" - The Jam
Imagine the provincials from satellite towns to London, travelling up to the capital every weekend to spend their pocket money in the boutiques, coffee shops and seeing their favourite bands for every post-war generation. The Jam were just such as they pilgrimaged to the capital of Mod "Carnaby Street" to stock up on Parkas and sharp It"In The City"alian suits. This early track of theirs is quite endearing two-dimensional Mod homage, nothing like the more sophisticated band they later went on to become (probably why no live footage of it on youTube). A B-Side of theirs went on to criticise the commercialisation of Carnaby Street in the same way punk bands sung about the standardization of punk through merchandising.

3) "Funky London Childhood" - T-Rex
If there ever was a better example of the rock star made by London than Marc Bolan, them I'm unsure as to who it was. Born, bred and died in London, Bolan was perfectly placed to tread the well worn path of London's Tin Pan Alley of agents, producers, record labels and itinerant musicians until he hit upon the right formula for success, in his case the Glam Rock of the 1970s. For a very good treatment of the history of London as administrative and commercial hub for modern music, read Paul du Noyer's excellent book "In The City". The irony being that most of the musicians who end up in London making their living, are not Londoners by birth. Bolan was unusual in that respect.

4) "LDN" - Lily Allen
Unless, you've reached the 21st century and by now qualify for the generations born to celebrity. Lily Allen, daughter of venerable punk comedian and now classic actor Keith, looks for her own way to make her name. So she's hooked up with some established session musicians, hits on a jaunty London-Caribbean sound and produces a feel good summer album. The start of this video was shot in my old workplace, with real staff members, at London's premier independent record shop Rough Trade Store. A couple of hit singles and promptly her music career takes a nose dive as she reverts to the celebrity persona and lives her entire life out in public via newspapers and social media.

5) "Londinium" - Catatonia
Well if you don't like it, you know what you can do Cerys don't you! You there with your baby voice. Can you tell I wasn't a fan? Personally I find London invigorating...

6) "Dark Streets Of London" - The Pogues
And still on the Celtic fringe, Shane Macgowan's Pogues duly honour their adoptive country while preserving the best of both their Irish and London roots. Macgowan truly is a rock poet of London similar to what John Cooper Clarke did for Manchester.

7) "Hold Tight London" - Chemical Brothers
The thing about capital cities, is that they have both the best and worst quality drugs. I will leave you to decide which are in evidence here. Some nice background shots of the city though.

8) "The Streets Of London" - Anti Nowhere League
See we can laugh at ourselves, as this beautiful folky song by Ralph McTell is given a right good duffing up by a band, the best thing about which could be said, was their name.

9) "City Of London" - The Mekons
The Mekons were from Leeds, but do a rather fine job here and reference Charles Dickens so can't be all bad!

10) "London Bridge" - Fergie
Hilarious and seemingly another American to confuse London with Tower Bridge: "going down like London Bridge. And no bad teeth on show anywhere in the entire video...

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