I Predict A Riot: Ten Songs About Riots. Six Days After African-American James Powell is Shot by Police Lieutenant Thomas Gilligan, Sparking the Harlem Riot, the Bedford YMCA, Brooklyn Hosts a Meeting of V.I.P. of Black organizations with Captain Edward Jenkins, Commanding Officer of the 79th Precinct. During the Day, They Look at Plausible Explanations for the Riot and Also At Lieutenant Gilligan’s Case. This Day in History, 21/07/1964.

1.  The Clash ‘White Riot’

(from the album The Clash, 1977).

2.  Kaiser Chiefs ‘I Predict A Riot’

(from the album Employment, 2005).

3.  The Mothers of Invention ‘Trouble Every Day’

(from the album Freak Out!, 1966).

4.  David Bowie ‘Black Tie White Noise’

(from the album Black Tie White Noise, 1993).

5.  Arctic Monkeys ‘Riot Van’

(from the album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, 2006).

6.  Sonic Youth ‘Teenage Riot’

(from the album Daydream Nation, 1988).

7.  The Stone Roses ‘Bye Bye Badman’

(from the album The Stone Roses, 1989).

8.  The Wailers ‘Burnin’ and Lootin’

(from the album Burnin’, 1973).

9.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young ‘Ohio’

(single A-side, 1970).

10. The Doors ‘L.A. Woman’

(from the album L.A. Woman, 1971).

Song of the Day: Travel in Music (Day Three). “Motorway Sun Comin’ Up With the Morning Light”.

2-4-6-8 Motorway was the first single released by the British punk rock / new wave group, Tom Robinson Band.  Released on the 7th October 1977, the single reached number five in the UK singles chart.  The band had only formed in January of the same year and was signed to EMI in the August.

Robinson had written 2-4-6-8 Motorway between leaving his previous band, Cafe Society, in 1976 and forming his new band.  At the beginning of the Tom Robinson Band, Robinson was playing gigs with whichever friends were available on the night, so the song was written in order that it could be learnt in a matter of minutes.

The music of 2-4-6-8 Motorway was conceived whilst Robinson was attempting to work out the chords for the Climax Blues Band song, Couldn’t Get It Right (Gold Plated, 1976).

He couldn’t remember the tune properly and this led to the song having just three chords repeated throughout the whole song.  The song has a suitably driving beat which helps to conjure up visions in the listener’s mind of the “ol’ ten-ton lorry” travelling down the motorway.

Lyrically, the song was inspired by Robinson’s memories of driving back to London through the night after gigs with Cafe Society.  He explained this in an interview with M Magazine in 2011:  “The verse lyric came from having done cheap gigs around the country with my previous band, Cafe Society, and driving back through the night from places like Scarborough and Rotherham.  By the time our van hit the last stretch of the M1 into London, the motorway sun really was coming up to the morning light”.

The song tells of the joys of driving a truck with lines such as “Drive my truck midway to the motorway station” and all the things the narrator encounters on his journey, such as “Fairlane cruiser coming on up on the left side”, “The little young Lady Stardust hitching a ride” and “Whizzkid sitting pretty on your two-wheel stallion”.  “The little young Lady Stardust” takes her name from the David Bowie song Lady Stardust, from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972).  Given that Robinson is openly gay, something celebrated in the song Glad to Be Gay and that the Lady Stardust in Bowie’s song is actually male, it could be suggested that 2-4-6-8 Motorway is about a gay truck driver and even that the narrator picks up “Little young Lady Stardust” for a “ride” in the sense of sexual intercourse.

Elsewhere in the song, Robinson sings “Me and my radio truckin’ on thru the night”.  In this line, the “radio” could either refer to a radio in the stereo system sense or perhaps the CB radios used as a communication tool between truck drivers.  Other lines include “Headlight shining, driving rain on the window pane” and “… on the double white line”, which further evoke thoughts of travelling on the motorway.  Additionally, the narrator tells of how he doesn’t need anybody but his beloved truck and the simplicity of only having himself to answer to in lines such as “Ain’t no use setting up with a bad companion, Ain’t nobody get the better of you-know-who” and “Well there ain’t no route you could choose to lose the two of us, Ain’t nobody know when you’re acting right or wrong”.

The chorus of the song was adapted from a Gay Lib chant which went, “2-4-6-8, Gay is twice as good as straight … 3, 5, 7, 9, Lesbians are mighty fine”.  Although the origins of the chorus are not apparent to the casual listener, they could be seen as a precursor to later more politically driven songs such as the follow up single, Glad to Be Gay (1978).

On hearing the song, EMI turned it down, but following a period of touring in which the band became tighter and guitarist Danny Kustow expanded his riff repertoire, they relented and released the record.  The single was such an instant success that it saw the band performing it on Top of the Pops on the 27th of October and later on the 10th of November.

2-4-6-8 Motorway was not featured on the band’s debut album Power in the Darkness (1978).  Robinson had described the decision to not include the song as a “fatal mistake” on many occasions.  However, in the US, the song was included on a free 7” EP, together with Gad to Be Gay, which came with the album.

London Calling: Ten Great Clash Moments. Happy Birthday to Mick Jones, 60 Today.

1.  The Clash ‘London Calling’

(from the album London Calling, 1979).

2.  The Clash ‘Janie Jones’

(from the album The Clash, 1977).

3.  The Clash ‘Safe European Home’

(from the album Give ‘Em Enough Rope, 1978).

4.  The Clash ‘Straight to Hell’

(from the album Combat Rock, 1982).

5.  The Clash ‘Career Opportunities’

(from the album The Clash, 1977).

6.  The Clash ‘Spanish Bombs’

(from the album London Calling, 1979).

7.  The Clash ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’

(from the album Combat Rock, 1982).

8.  The Clash ‘Bank Robber’

(single, 1980).

9.  The Clash ‘Rock the Casbah’

(from the album Combat Rock, 1982).

10. The Clash ‘Train in Vain’

(from the album London Calling, 1979).

1984: Ten Songs Inspired by Nineteen Eighty-Four. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is Published. This Day in History, 08/06/1949.

1.  Radiohead ‘2+2=5’

(from the album Hail to the Thief, 2003).

2.  Muse ‘Resistance’

(from the album The Resistance, 2009).

3.  Coldplay ‘Spies’

(from the album Parachutes, 2000).

4.  David Bowie ‘1984’

(from the album Diamond Dogs, 1974).

5.  The Clash ‘1977’

(B-side of the single White Riot, 1977).

6.  Manic Street Preachers ‘1985’

(from the album Lifeblood, 2003).

7.  Dead Kennedys ‘California Uber Alles’

(from the album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, 1980).

8.  John Lennon ‘Only People’

(from the album Mind Games, 1973).

9.  The Jam ‘Standards’

(from the album This is the Modern World, 1977).

10. Eurythmics ‘Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)’

(from the album 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother), 1984).

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Ten Songs About the Queen. Queen Elizabeth II is Crowned at a Coronation Ceremony at Westminster Abbey, London. This Day in History, 02/06/1953.

1.  The Smiths ‘The Queen Is Dead’

(from the album The Queen Is Dead, 1986).

2.  Sex Pistols ‘God Save The Queen’

(from the album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, 1977).

3. The Housemartins ‘Flag Day’

(from the album London 0, Hull 4, 1986).

4.  Catatonia ‘Storm the Palace’

(from the album Equally Cursed and Blessed, 1999).

5.  Propellerheads ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’

(from the album Decksanddrumsandrockandroll, 1997).

6.  Pet Shop Boys ‘Dreaming of the Queen’

(from the album Very, 1993).

7.  The Stone Roses ‘Elizabeth My Dear’

(from the album The Stone Roses, 1989).

8.  Manic Street Preachers ‘Repeat (Stars and Stripes)’

(from the album Generation Terrorists, 1992).

9.  The Good, The Bad & The Queen ‘The Good, The Bad & The Queen’

(from the album The Good, The Bad & The Queen, 2007).

10. The Beatles ‘Her Majesty’

(from the album Abbey Road, 1969).

Anyone Can Play Guitar: Ten Songs About Guitars. Forty Years Ago Today, Ronnie Wood Joins the Rolling Stones, Replacing Mick Taylor. This Day in History, 01/06/1975.

1.  Radiohead ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’

(from the album Pablo Honey, 1993).

2. Mott the Hoople ‘All the Way From Memphis’

(from the album Mott, 1973).

3.  Elvis Presley ‘Guitar Man’

(from the album Clambake, 1967).

4. The Clash ‘Jail Guitar Doors’

(B-side of Clash City Rockers, 1977)

5.  Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention ‘My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama’

(from the album Weasels Ripped My Flesh, 1970).

6.  The Beatles ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’

(from the album The Beatles, 1968).

7.  Talking Heads ‘Electric Guitar’

(from the album Fear of Music, 1979).

8.  BB King ‘Lucille’

(from the album Lucille, 1968).

9.  Charlotte Hatherley ‘Bastardo’

(from the album Grey Will Fade, 2004).

10. The Rolling Stones ‘Torn and Frayed’

(from the album Exile on Main St., 1972).

A Song for Europe: Ten Songs about Europe. The First Eurovision Song Contest is Held in Lugano, Switzerland. This Day in History, 24/05/1956.

1.  REM ‘Radio Free Europe’

(from the album Murmur, 1983).

2.  Six by_Seven ‘European Me’

(from the album The Things We Make, 1998).

3.  The Clash ‘Safe European Home’

(from the album Give ‘Em Enough Rope, 1978).

4.  Muse ‘United States of Eurasia / Collateral Damage’

(from the album The Resistance, 2009).

5.  Kraftwerk ‘Europe Endless’

(from the album Trans-Europe Express, 1977).

6.  Roxy Music ‘A Song For Europe’

(from the album Stranded, 1973).

7.  The Delgados ‘Big Business in Europe’

(from the album Domestiques, 1996).

8.  Suede ‘Europe is Our Playground’

(B-side of Trash, 1996).

9. Velvet Underground ‘European Son’

(from the album Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967).

10. The Divine Comedy ‘When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe’

(from the album Promenade, 1994).

The Intense Humming of Evil: Ten Songs About The Holocaust. The First Prisoners Arrive at a New Concentration Camp at Auschwitz. This Day in History, 20/05/1940.

1.  Manic Street Preachers ‘The Intense Humming of Evil’

(from the album The Holy Bible, 1994).

2.  The Libertines ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’

(from the album The Libertines, 2004).

3.  The Klezmatics ‘Ilsa Koch’

(from the album Wonder Wheel (bonus track), 2009).

4.  Joy Division ‘No Love Lost’

(from the An Ideal for Living EP, 1978).

5. Tom Paxton ‘Train For Auschwitz’

(recorded in 1961).

6.  Sex Pistols ‘Belsen Was A Gas’

(from the album The Great Rock ‘N Roll Swindle, 1979).

7.  Janis Ian ‘Tattoo’

(from the album Breaking Silence, 1992).

8.  Neutral Milk Hotel ‘Holland 1945’

(from the album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, 1998).

9.  Rush ‘Red Sector A’

(from the album Grace Under Pressure, 1984).

10.  Leonard Cohen ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’

(from the album Various Positions, 1984).

The Headmaster Ritual: Ten Songs About School. Forty-five People are Killed by Bombs Planted by a Disgruntled School-board Member in the Bath School Disaster, Michigan. This Day in History, 18/05/1927.

1.  The Smiths ‘The Headmaster Ritual’

(from the album Meat is Murder, 1985).

2.  Belle and Sebastian ‘Expectations’

(from the album Tigermilk, 1996).

3.  Black Box Recorder ‘The School Song’

(from the album Passionoia, 2003).

4.  Madness ‘Baggy Trousers’

(from the album Absolutely, 1980).

5.  The White Stripes ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’

(from the album White Blood Cells, 2001).

6.  Pink Floyd ‘Another Brick in the Wall’

(from the album The Wall, 1979).

7.  The Police ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me

(from the album Zenyatta Mondatta, 1980).

8.  The Boomtown Rats ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’

(from the album The Fine Art of Surfacing, 1979).

9.  The Ramones ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’

(from the album End of the Century, 1980).

10. Trash Can Sinatras ‘To Sir, with Love’

(from the album A Happy Pocket, 1996).

Song of the Day: Crime in Music (Day Five): “Lord Lucan is Missing”

Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, more commonly known as Lord Lucan was a British peer suspected of murder, who disappeared without a trace on the 8th November 1974.  Lucan was born into an Anglo-Irish aristocratic family in Marylebone.  His great-great-grandfather was the 3rd Earl of Lucan, who ordered the Charge of the Light Brigade.  He attended Eton and later served with the Coldstream Guards in West Germany between 1953 and 1955.  He developed a taste for gambling and, skilled at backgammon and bridge, became an early member of the Clermont Club.  Despite the fact his losses often exceeded his winnings, he left his job at a London-based merchant bank and became a professional gambler.  He was known by the title Lord Bingham between April 1949 and January 1964, when his father died and he became the 7th Earl of Lucan.

Lucan was a highly charismatic man who was once even considered for the role of James Bond.  He had expensive tastes, with his hobbies including power boats and driving his Aston Martin.  In 1963, he married Veronica Duncan, with whom he had three children.  When the marriage collapsed in late 1972, he moved out of the family home at 46 Lower Belgrave Street, in London’s Belgravia, to a property nearby.  A bitter battle for custody of his children ensued and Lucan lost.  He began to spy on his wife and record their telephone conversations, apparently obsessed with regaining custody of their children.  This fixation, combined with his gambling losses, had a dramatic effect on his life and personal finances.

The murder of Sandra Rivett, the children’s nanny took place on the evening of 7th November 1974.  On Thursday nights, Rivett usually went out with her boyfriend, John Hawkins but had tragically decided to change her night off and had seen him the previous day.  Rivett and Hawkins spoke on the telephone at about 8pm.  At about 8.55pm, she put the Lucans’ youngest child to bed and asked Lady Lucan if she would like a cup of tea.  She headed downstairs to the basement kitchen to make the cup of tea.  As she entered the room, she was bludgeoned to death with a piece of bandaged lead pipe.  Her body was then placed in a canvas mail sack.  Upon wondering what had delayed Rivett, Lady Lucan walked down the stairs into the basement kitchen and was also attacked.  She later identified Lord Lucan as her assailant.

When questioned by the police, Lady Lucan said that as she screamed for her life, her attacker had told her to “shut up”.  At this moment, said Lady Lucan, she recognised her husband’s voice.  The two had continued to fight.  In an attempt to get Lord Lucan to loosen his grip, she bit his fingers.  He threw her down on the carpet.  She managed to turn around and squeeze his testicles, causing him to give up the fight.  Lady Lucan asked where Sandra Rivett was.  Lord Lucan was evasive but eventually admitted to having killed her.  Lady Lucan told him that she could help him escape on the provision that he remained at the house for a few days to allow her injuries to heal.  Lucan walked upstairs and sent his daughter to bed before going into one of the bedrooms.  Lady Lucan followed him into the bedroom, placing towels down on the bed to avoid staining the bedding, on the instruction of Lord Lucan.  Lucan asked her if she had any barbiturates and went into the bathroom to get a wet towel, supposedly to clean Lady Lucan’s face.  Realising that her husband would not be able to hear her from the bathroom, she made her escape, running outside to a nearby public house, the Plumber’s Arms.

As the police began their murder investigation, Lucan telephoned his mother, asking her to collect the children, and then drove a borrowed Ford Corsair to the home of friend Susan Maxwell-Scott in Uckfield, East Sussex.  Hours later, he left the property and was never seen again.   The Ford Corsair was later found abandoned in Newhaven.  The interior of the car was stained with blood and its boot contained a piece of bandaged lead pipe similar to the one found at the crime scene.  A few days later, a warrant for Lucan’s arrest was issued and in his absence, the inquest into Rivett’s death named him as her murderer.  With the passage of the Criminal Law Act of 1977, the inquest into Rivett’s death marked the last occasion in Britain on which a coroner’s court was allowed to make such a determination.  The whereabouts of Lord Lucan and whether he is dead or alive remains a fascinating mystery for the British public.  Since the murder of Sandra Rivett, there have been hundreds of reported sightings of Lucan all over the world, although none have been substantiated.  Despite a police investigation and huge press interest, Lucan has never been found and has now been presumed dead.

In 1978, Brighton punk band The Dodgems released the single Lord Lucan is Missing on the appropriately titled Criminal Records.  Interestingly, the song was produced by Jonathan King, the self-confessed vile pervert who 22 years later would become as infamous as Lord Lucan when he was convicted of a string of sexual offences against young boys since the early 70s.  Originally part of the Vaultage 78 compilation album, Lord Lucan is Missing was championed by John Peel, who invited the band to record a session for his Radio 1 show.  The session became a Peel favourite and was repeated several times before the show ended with Peel’s death in 2004.  The Peel session helped the song to become an iconic song of the punk era.

The song takes its title from newspaper headlines at the time of Lord Lucan’s disappearance, hence the opening line of the song, “It seems like years ago that the headlines read, ‘Lord Lucan is Missing’”.  The song makes several references to Lord Lucan’s interests and ponders upon his potential whereabouts, with lines including “Is he in the Clermont Club or in the South of France, Playing on a roulette wheel in another game of chance, I don’t know …”