Panic on the Streets of London

As I watched the recent TV footage of the looting and rioting in London, I started thinking of some of the many songs that use civil disobedience as their subject matter. The first ones that came to mind were by The Clash and I’ve included four below. The band’s 1977 debut included their impressive take on Junior Murvin’s reggae hit from the previous year, Police & Thieves. I’ve also included two covers from that LP that were both released in 1999. Californian band Cracker’s version of White Riot appears on Burning London: The Clash Tribute and Silverchair from Australia offer their take on London’s Burning, which is taken from their Anthem For the Year 2000. From France, Nouvelle Vague’s lounge interpretations of punk and new wave numbers includes Guns of Brixton on their 2004 self-titled debut. Also in 1977, The Clash’s fellow London punks, The Sex Pistols, delivered musical Anarchy in the UK on their Never Mind the Bollocks debut. A year later, Manchester’s Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias came along with their heads down, no nonsense, mindless boogie version on their album, Skite. The final cover version in this selection is taken from London band Chelsea’s Rocks Off album from 1986. It’s Street Fighting Man by The Rolling Stones and it originally appeared on Beggars Banquet in 1968. Echoing Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Jagger sings that “summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy” before highlighting the apathy that existed in London at the time. I wonder what he thinks now

Let’s Loot the Supermarket Again by Mick Farren & the Deviants is taken from their Screwed Up single from 1978. That’s when The Radiators from Dublin released their Ghostown debut and its track about looting in the town. Bristol’s Chaotic Dischord sang about more retail anarchy on their Don’t Throw It All Away 12″ in 1984. Back in 1979, The Ruts from London had a Top Ten hit with Babylon’s Burning, the first track from their first album, The Crack. In Manchester, Joy Division opened Unknown Pleasures with Disorder. Teen Age Riot is also the opening track on Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation from 1988 and, in my opinion, one of their best. The location of the disturbances on the title track of Half Man Half Biscuit’s Trumpton Riots EP from 1986 is not their hometown of Birkenhead, but rather the fictional locale of a kids show from the sixties. Finally, we end up in the peaceful environment of Galway in 1992 as Toasted Heretic tell us about Another Day, Another Riot on the title track of the band’s third and penultimate long-player. Fortunately, the rioting and looting has simmered down in London and across England and hopefully things will have improved by the weekend when the football starts up again. However, in keeping with the general theme of rule-breaking and lawlessness, I’ve decided to present the songs below in a completely different order to how I’ve introduced them above. Normal service will be resumed next time

Babylon’s Burning – The Ruts

Teen Age Riot – Sonic Youth

Disorder – Joy Division

The Trumpton Riots – Half Man Half Biscuit

Another Day, Another Riot – Toasted Heretic

They’re Looting in the Town – The Radiators

Let’s Loot the Supermarket Again (Like We Did Last Summer) – Mick Farren & the Deviants

Anarchy In Woolworths – Chaotic Dischord

Anarchy In The UK (Sex Pistols cover) – Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias

Street Fighting Man (Rolling Stones cover) – Chelsea

Guns Of Brixton (The Clash cover) – Nouvelle Vague

London’s Burning (The Clash cover) – Silverchair

White Riot (The Clash cover) – Cracker

Police & Thieves (Junior Murvin cover) – The Clash

The Twister image is taken from photoshoplooter


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