Return To Brixton

Paul Simonon realised after a while that the money was in songwriting. During the sessions for what became London Calling he worked up a tune into what would become one of the group’s most recognisable and best-loved songs, thanks in large part to ‘the bassline of the twentieth century’. The swagger of Guns Of Brixton comes from the swing of the bassline and Paul’s rough and ready vocal, the ripping sound at the start (velcro being peeled off the studio chairs apparently) and the chanted backing vocals. One of my favourites.

In 1990 Norman Cook borrowed the bassline for his number one hit Dub Be Good To Me. Without asking permission. Paul and Norman settled in a cafe and according to Paul at the time the cash injection was much needed. I happen to love Dub Be Good To Me, an updating of The SOS Band’s Just Be Good To Me with harmonica pinched from Ennio Morricone and the rap half-inched from Johnny Dynell.

CBS, sensing a hit, decided to get a top dj to remix Guns Of Brixton, for the club scene. Jeremy Healy was the dj and a 12″ single with three new versions (two are below) was put out. It stormed into the charts reaching number 57. I don’t remember the clubs and bars of 1990 being awash with this version either. Well done CBS, good work.

To be honest I quite like the remixes, they present the song a bit differently, give it something else. They’re not as good as the original no, and yes, they’re probably for completists and the curious only.

Return To Brixton (Extended Version)

Return To Brixton (SW2 Dub)

Jeremy Healy was in Haysi Fantayzee previous to his dj career. I’ve been watching the Top Of The Pops re-runs from 1983 this year and the January editions had Haysi Fantayzee on several times doing Shiny Shiny,a sort of pirate, nursery rhyme, tribal, glam, anti-nuclear thumper. Having recorded it, I re-watched it a few times too. Two words- Kate Garner.

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The Clash ‘Return To Brixton’ (Extended mix)

Not one for the purists, this is Guns Of Brixton re-worked in 1990 by Jeremy Healy of all people. It’s testament to the song’s strengths that a baggy-ish remix can’t destroy it, and slightly odd that so little is made of Paul Simonon’s famous bassline. This remix single came about in response to Norman Cook’s Beats International number 1 single Dub Be Good To Me, which was based around Guns Of Brixton’s bassline. Record company cash-in? Oh yes. Good fun though and surprisingly listenable. While we’re here, how camp is that photo?

02 – Return To Brixton (Extended mix).mp3