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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

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 Mix)

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.




7 comments:

JC said...

I'm another fans of the Beats International song - hadn't appreciated till now that Paul wasn't in on it.

I've a 7" copy of Return to Brixton; picked it up for 50p in a bargain bin. Can't believe they're wanting £20 for it on Discogs just now. Like you, I don't mind it although it's nowhere near as good as the original. (if you need the 7" to complete your collection then I'd be happy to give it to you)

Haysi Fantayzee? There's a name I haven't heard in years. Always think of them as one-hit wonders with wonderfully named 'John Wayne Is Big Leggy' which was a bit risque in its day...in fact I must dig out a posting on it for my place.

The Swede said...

In retrospect, it would've been interesting to have let Mick have a go at a remix.

londonlee said...

Am I the only one who thinks Guns of Brixton is a terrible song? The lyrics are like parody Clash

Swiss Adam said...

JC- I've got the 12" but thanks very much for the offer.
Swede- that makes perfect sense and hadn't occurred to me before.
Lee- terrible?! it's a great song. The lyrics are the work of a young man with a guns, ghetto and Harder They Come fixation which do sound a bit sill.y But the song has so much oomph and swagger I think he and they get away with it.

JTFL said...

Lee, I quite like Guns of Brixton and couldn't imagine London Calling without it. That said, yeah, Simonon's not much of a singer. And perhaps it's sacrilege, but I prefer the Nouvelle Vague version.

That Kate Garner was something to look at, even if you had to listen to that...music.

charity chic said...

My colleague at work Hazel is known affectionately by me as Hazey Fantayzee

Echorich said...

The Guns Of Brixton reminds me of nights in my late teens listening to it in my attic bedroom, light out, on a hot summer night with a small window open to the midnight heat. It was a song as heavy as that summer night air.