Great London Songs

12 Lazy Sunday – Small Faces

This was originally a track on the 1968 album “Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake”. The song was released as a single in April that year without the band’s knowledge and reached No.2 in the UK singles chart. They weren’t happy with its’ release, because they felt that many other tracks on the album better represented their musical direction, they were trying to ditch their pop image. The success of the song eventually led to Marriott leaving the band. He formed the rockier sounding Humble Pie with Peter Frampton. Frampton was another ’60s pop star looking to present a “heavier” sound in the 1970s, having had hits with “The Herd” and voted “The face of 1968” by the teen magazine “Rave. The band thought “Afterglow” would be the lead single, but although it is a good song in its own right, you can’t imagine that it would have been the big hit that Lazy Sunday was.

“Gor Blimey, ‘ello Mrs. Jones – How’s yer Bert’s lumbago” Steve Marriott sings in a cod cockney accent. In 1960 he played the Artful Dodger in Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!” and this east end music hall delivery harks back to that. The song was recorded as a jokey album track, but it has clever lyrics, a unique delivery, and it remains a London psychedelic era pop classic.

Cover versions include the Toy Dolls (remember the punk “Nellie the Elephant”?) on their cleverly titled CD “Orcastrated”. The Libertines used to include a version in their live set. I feel like I can hear echoes of this son in Blur’s “Parklife” too.

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Great London Songs

8 Up the Junction – Squeeze

“I never thought it would happen, with me and the girl from Clapham” begins the 1979 story song from Squeeze. It’s named after a 1960s kitchen sink drama directed by Ken Loach and although the story is not quite the same one, it has many of the same elements. Lean lyrics and no chorus, it succinctly tells a life story in 3 minutes and 10 seconds.

Released as a single, on purple vinyl in 1979, it made No2 in the UK charts – being kept from the No1 by Tubeway Army’s “Are Friends Electric”. The song has a London sensibility, Up the Junction is slang for in trouble and it namechecks Clapham’s windy common. Written by Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, who were the main songwriters in the band, Jools Holland was the keyboard player in Squeeze when the song was released. They wrote the story of the other person in the song “the girl from Clapham” 20 years later in “A Moving Story”

There haven’t been too many covers for a song that sold over half a million copies in the UK. Travis put it on the B side of a single, The View put it on the B side of Superstar Tradesman and Lily Allen does it live occasionally. My favourite cover is by The Hotrats, a side project of the band Supergrass, who change it up, but manage to keep the sadness of the story.