Former Pretenders singer and and all-round legend Chrissie Hynde released her debut solo album last week. As great as the record is, given London’s been her home for many years we have to say we’re a little disappointed that she decided to call it Stockholm and drape herself in yellow and blue for the artwork. Snubbed, is the word.
So as an act of pure petulance, here we bring you ten acts who have done the decent thing and put ‘London’ in their album title.
John Martyn — London Conversation
When John Martyn was born in 1948, New Malden was in Surrey. A couple of decades later it had become part of London, shared between the boroughs of Kingston upon Thames and Merton. Perhaps it was as a direct result of suddenly being able to claim he was a ‘Londoner born and bred’ that he released a debut album entitled London Conversation in 1967, two years after New Malden’s move; unfortunately we can’t ask him as he died in 2009, but his music lives on. Here’s the album’s title track.
Kano — London Town
Rap/grime artist Kano burst out of Newham with his debut album in 2005, and followed it up with London Town three years later. This is a genre it’s easy to look foolish talking about, so we’ll restrict ourselves to just saying it’s very good indeed. Aside from his excellent music, Kano has more recently been seen as Sully in Channel 4’s excellent Top Boy series, treading a similar path to rapper Ashley Walters, who as it happens was in the same show. Here’s the first track from the album, The Product. (NB: Wings also did an album called London Town, but, well, no.)
Robyn Hitchcock — Love From London
Robyn Hitchcock is a proper London boy, born in Paddington in 1953. Since he first recorded with The Soft Boys in 1976, he’s been developing his excellent semi-psychedelic pop-rock sound, and the cover of his most recent album in 2013 prominently featured a roundel from Bank station. That wouldn’t be enough to get him onto this list if he hadn’t called the album Love from London, but he did, and here’s Be Still from it.
Stooshe — London With The Lights On
You take the rough with the smooth in this game. Stooshe are a trio of ladies from south-east London who perform pop in the vein of… girls doing pop. Their debut album from 2013 was called London With The Lights On and though we’re inclined towards cynicism at this juncture we should point out that no lesser publication than the Guardian described it as “a noisy, highly entertaining 50 minutes”. You be the judge — here’s the lead single from the album, Slip.
Nitin Sawhney — London Undersound
In 2008 the hugely popular and multi award-winning musician Nitin Sawhney released an album called London Undersound. The record continued his move into the far reaches of acid jazz, trip hop and drum and bass, with a large number of guest vocalists including Paul McCartney, Natty and London’s own Imogen Heap. Here’s the Nitin and Imogen number from the album, entitled Bring It Home.
The Housemartins — London 0 Hull 4
Back when it was considered acceptable for music to be northern and mildly earnest, The Housemartins released an album in 1986 whose title we frankly don’t appreciate, We toyed with the idea of leaving this one out for its sheer implausibility — didn’t work out that way in the Cup Final, eh lads? But we’re big enough to admit their music’s half decent, so here’s the video for Sheep. And yes, that is Fatboy Slim.
The Bug — London Zoo
Possibly the least known of the artists on our list, The Bug is London-based dubstep musician and producer Kevin Martin. London Zoo was his third album, released in 2008, and looking at the review scores it got at the time it’s fair to say it was quite well received (from what we can tell, no single review gave it less than four stars out of five). It’s menacingly excellent stuff, and here’s the aptly named warning from the record.
Apologies, I Have None — London
They have none, and nor should they, for they are the only act on our list to have felt no need to add spurious extra words to their album title. An excellent London-bred punk rock outfit who were most recently seen here tearing through a set at the Camden Rocks festival, they even had the good sense to name one of their tracks Holloway or Anywhere. Here it is, and quite right too.
Marc Almond & John Harle — Tyburn Tree: Dark London
Unnoticed by many on its release earlier this year, Tyburn Tree is a concept album from Soft Cell supremo Marc Almond and the composer and saxophonist John Harle. It’s perhaps not what you’d expect, from Almond in particular, with his electro-pop stylings of old replaced by gothic mutterings and neo-operatic singing, covering such grim subject matter as murder, execution, and our old friends Jack the Ripper and Spring-Heeled Jack. It’s as downright weird as it sounds, as demonstrated by the track Fortress, below.
The Clash — London Calling
Never let it be said we don’t know our audience; had we left this off the list, can you just imagine the furious comments below? The archetypal London band’s finest work, London Calling remains a remarkable album from a band we may never see the like of again. Here’s Train In Vain, the album’s magnificent closer.
We’ve restricted ourselves to ten — what else should we have included? Let us have your favourite ‘London’ albums in the comments below.