Commercial Break


This ad is a classic example of turning rebellion into money, in this case using women’s lib to sell booze. These ads are never aimed at people who already are adventurous, rebellious rule-breakers, but instead they’re for people who want to be like that. The message is always the same: Drink this, eat that, wear this, listen to that band, and you will be a cool person. One of the good things about getting older is not caring too much about that anymore, which is why advertisers don’t care about my demographic either.

The “until I discovered Smirnoff” campaign was so famous it inspired jokes like “I thought Cunnilingus was an Irish airline until I discovered Smirnoff” but was stopped in 1975 when the British government passed a law against alcohol advertising that claimed drinking the product would lead to sexual or social success. This is a witty ad but it does unfortunately equate women’s liberation with being sexually available, especially once you’ve got a few vodkas inside you.

Smirnoff certainly wasn’t the first company to co-op youth or social movements for the purposes of capitalism but I wonder who was. Probably someone in the 1920s using the Bright Young Things to sell headache powders.

Let’s get funky.

Download: Liberation Conversation – Marlena Shaw (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



The release of the Tabu Records Box Set inspired to dig out my Alexander O’Neal albums the other night which still sound terrific. His first two are nearly perfect thanks to the genius of Jam & Lewis but if forced to choose between them I’d pick Hearsay over his debut because of tracks like this.

The video is rather great too. Like, totally 80s.

A New Career in a New Town


I doubt if the designers of this poster intended to make “new town” Milton Keynes look like some post-apocalyptic dystopia populated by creepy zombie families living in concrete bunkers, but that’s what they ended up with.

No, I’m not going to post that Style Council record because I don’t like it much. This 1987 club classic (that they covered), however, is brilliant.

Download: Promised Land (Original 12″ Mix) – Joe Smooth (mp3)

My London

“The Greater London Council is responsible for a sprawl shaped like a rugby ball about twenty five miles long and twenty miles wide; my city is a concise kidney-shaped patch within that space, in which no point is no more than about seven miles from any other. On the south it is bounded by the river, on the north by the fat tongue of Hampstead Heath and Highgate Village, on the west by Brompton Cemetery and on the east by Liverpool Street station. I hardly ever trespass beyond those limits, and when I do I feel like I’m in foreign territory…It is the visitor who goes everywhere; to the resident, a river or railway track, even if it is bridged every few hundred yards, may be as absolute a boundary as a snakepit or ocean.”
Jonathan Raban, Soft City (1974)

A bloke at work asked me recently if I’d been to Abbey Road to see the famous zebra crossing and was really shocked when I said I hadn’t. He assumed that, being a Londoner, I must have.

Besides the fact that I would never act like a sight-seeing tourist in the city I grew up in*, Abbey Road is in NW8 which might as well be Mars to this boy from Fulham SW6 who rarely ventured to the north of the city. To me, Camden was a foreign land I only ever visited to go to the Electric Ballroom. My London — the city I knew and was comfortable in — was bordered on the north by the Westway, went as far east as Holborn, out west to Hammersmith, from there south of the river to Barnes, and then east on that side of the Thames as far as Wandsworth.

If it was a Tube map it would look like this:


Though I have lived and worked in some of them at various times, the areas beyond these borders might as well have a Here Be Dragons sign on them – or at least Here Be Media Luvvies (North London) and Here Be Pub Fights (SE London) — for all I know about them, or care to. Visiting friends who lived outside my comfort zone I often didn’t feel like I was still in London even though the A-Z said I was — I mean, where the bloody hell is Stoke Newington? It’s doubly uncomfortable feeling like a stranger in your own home city, and you don’t ever want the shame of someone thinking you’re a tourist or out-of-towner by asking for directions or looking at a map.

Every Londoner will have their own version of the city like this (just as there are New Yorkers who never go uptown or downtown) because it’s just too big for one person to feel at home everywhere. I remember several times falling asleep drunk on a night bus and waking up in unfamiliar territory near the end of the route. You quickly get off the bus in a panic — where the fuck am I? — and start walking (or staggering) back in what you think is the right direction. Then, in the distance, you see a building or road that you know and immediately your spirit lifts and your pace quickens. You’ve crossed the border into your London and everything is going to be all right.

Download: London Town – Light of The World (mp3)

Pretty sure I posted this song before a few years ago but what the hell, it’s worth doing again. Think this might be my all-time favourite London record, and there’s been some good ones.

*I have also never been inside Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, or The Tower of London.

Commercial Break


Billy Preston knows fashion too. But it looks like he keeps his car in the sort of dodgy lock-up garage you’d see in The Sweeney.

Download: Right Now – Billy Preston (mp3)

Commercial Break


Pan’s People for only 85p? I knew the BBC were cheap, but still…

Here’s some funky Philly Soul from 1971.

Download: Hot Pants (Gonna Get You In Trouble) – Norma & The Heartaches (mp3)

Picture Post

Download: High Steppin’ Hip Dressin’ Fella (You Got It Together) – Love Unlimited (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



Though this has the original studio recording dubbed over it it’s still a joy to watch. The audience don’t seem too excited though.

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The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com

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