Friday Street

Streets, roads and places feature prominently in Paul Weller’s songs, from the punk temptations of In The City, the bomb in Wardour Street and Tales From The Riverbanks’ childhood idyll during The Jam through to the fascination with Paris in The Style Council. Once solo Weller continued the psychogeography. His first solo album featured the single Uh Huh Oh Yeah and a ‘trip down Boundary Lane, trying to find myself again’. His third solo album was named after the road he grew up on (Stanley Road). By this point he was busy earning the Dadrock tag, and in truth although I liked the first solo album and loved Wild Wood, Stanley Road did little for me other than The Changing Man, Broken Stones and that nice Peter Blake sleeve.

1997’s Heavy Soul album led with this single, and it turns out it’s an actual place (a hamlet in Surrey). ‘A pulse goes on, on Friday Street’ he sings but truth be told at this point that Dadrock label isn’t budging.

53rd & 3rd

If songs about streets and roads are about a sense of place, home, belonging and how far you can go from home, then Dee Dee Ramone’s 53rd & 3rd is surely a measure of how far a person can fall. Dee Dee’s narrator stands on the corner of 53rd and 3rd ‘trying to turn a trick’ and is dismayed he’s also ‘the one they never pick’. This two minute buzzsaw tale of male prostitution ends in murder. It wasn’t all fun round The Ramones way y’know.

Electric Avenue

Regular reader and comment leaver Artog pointed out a while ago that the Electric Avenue ex-Equal Eddy Grant sang about back in 1982 was a real road. He spotted it from the top deck of the 159 bus. It’s in Brixton, SW9. Those postcodes always seem important to Londoners. In the 1880s it was the first market street to be lit by, yes, electricity and it’s beautiful Victorian shop front canopies survived until the 1980s, when some philistine pulled them down. Thatcher probably.

Whittier Boulevard

With a name like Thee Midnighters (or Thee Midniters) you just know that this is going to be hopped up mid-60s garage rock. And it is, but also hopped up mid-60s Chicano garage rock. A tribute to East Los Angeles Whittier Blouevard. We don’t have many boulevards round here.

Jacob Street

From the imaginary novel that forms the sleeve notes to Sabres Of Paradise 1994 album Haunted Dancehall-

”Jacob Street 7am. Stumbling from the Charing Cross Road drinker, two hours kip and off to work. Dawn over Rotherhithe…could be worse”.

Beasley Street

John Cooper Clarke’s Beasley Street. Street poetry, I think you’ll agree.

Far from the crazy pavements
…the taste of silver spoons
A clinical arrangement
…on a dirty afternoon
Where the fecal germs of Mr Freud
…are rendered obsolete
The legal term is null and void
in the case of … Beasley street

In the cheap seats where murder breeds
somebody is out of breath
Sleep is a luxury they don’t need
… a sneak preview of death
Belladonna is your flower
Manslaughter is your meat
Spend a year in a couple of hours
on the edge of Beasley street

Where the action isn’t
That’s where it is
State your position
Vacancies exist
In an X-certificate exercise
Ex-servicemen excrete
Keith Joseph smiles and a baby dies
in a box on Beasley street

From the boarding houses and bedsits full of
…accidents and fleas
Somebody gets it
Where the missing persons freeze
wearing dead men’s overcoats
You can’t see their feet
A Riff joint shuts – opens up
right down on Beasley street

Cars collide, colours clash
Disaster movie stuff
For the man with the Fu Manchu moustache
revenge is not enough
There’s a dead canery on a swivel seat
there’s a rainbow on the road
Meanwhile on Beasley Street
silence is the code

Hot beneath the collar
…an inspector call
Where the perishing stink of squalor
…impregnates the walls
The rats have all got rickets
They spit through broken teeth
The name of the game is not cricket
Caught out on …Beasley Street

The hipster and his hired hat
drive a borrowed car
yellow socks and a pink crevat
nothing la-di-dah
Watch the three-piece suite
When shitstopper drains
and crocodile skis
are seen on …Beasley Street

The kingdom of the blind
…a one-eyed man is king
Beauty problems are redefined
…The doorbells do not ring
A light bulb bursts like a blister
the only form of heat
Where a fellow sells his sister
…down the river on Beasley Street

The boys are on the wagon
The girls are on the shelf
Their commom problem is
…that they’re not someone else
The dirt blows out
The dust blows in
You can’t keep it neat
It’s a fully furnished dustbin
…sixteen Beasley Street

Vince the ageing savage
Betrays no kind of life
…but the smell of yesterday’s cabbage
and the ghost of last year’s wife
Through a constant haze
of deodorant sprays
He says …retreat
Alsatians dog the dirty days
Down the middle of Beasley street

People turn to poison
Quick as lager turns to piss
Sweethearts are physically sick
Every time they kiss
It’s a sociologist’s paradise
Each day repeats
Uneasy, cheasy, greasy, queasy
…beastly, Beasley Street

Eyes dead as vicious fish
Look around for laughs
If I could have just one wish
I would be a photograph
On a permanent monday morning
Get lost or fall asleep
When the yellow cats are yawning
Around the back of Beasley Street

Killermont Street

A short ride on the top deck back to Tuesday’s postee Mr Roddy Frame, who ditched the lovestruckness of many of his songs on Killermont Street, realism over romanticism. Killermont Street was on 1988’s glossed up Love but this version is Roddy solo, live with acoustic guitar and piano.

‘Whisky words tumble down in the street with the pain that they cure
Sentimentally yours from Killermont Street’
‘We can get there by bus
From Killermont Street’

Harrow Road

Songs about roads and streets are an important part of the musical landscape. The punk and post punk lot wrote about them frequently, as if to set out where they had come from and maybe to measure how far they could go. This isn’t the road as a journey, like Highway 66 or 61, but the road as home. They romanticised their local streets and roads. To most Londoners the Westway was just a concrete flyover; to The Clash it was the mythical centre of their world. Weller romanticised the woods and fields around the home streets of Surrey from his childhood and the streets of London. John Cooper Clarke found dark stuff down Beasley Street. Psychogeography I think it’s called.

This is a cracking late period Big Audio Dynamite song, a tribute to Harrow Road where anything can happen, including finding Elvis in the launderette with washing powder on his nose.