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Welcome to my new side project, Bob’s Beats, which is a music-only sibling of my main (mostly political) blog, Bob From Brockley. I will cross-post the music posts from there, perhaps do some exclusives here in between, and maybe invite some of my friends to do some guest posts.

I’ll launch with a re-post of something I did back in 2010, which was two songs intended as the theme tunes for my blog.


Dave at Though Cowards Flinch tagged me with this theme tune meme, and then lovely Carl reminded me. They both picked two tunes (Carl’s included one of my favourite songs, and a song I really love): opening and closing credits I guess. I found it almost impossible to narrow down from my mental longlist of about 20, but finally managed.

I aimed for songs that capture the effect I aim for at Bob From Brockley: to recreate the feeling of sitting on the top deck of the 171 bus, reading Hannah Arendt while eating greasy southern fried chicken bought in a Turkish Cypriot takeaway, listening to Johnny Cash on your iPod but unable to hear it because the kids next to you is playing tinny grime music on his mobile phone. Here they are:

Calexico – Guns of Brixton

This epic spaghetti western cover of the Clash classic about police brutality is beautiful to listen to, but also somehow transposes the landscape of urban Sarf London to the American west, and so nicely chimes with my trans-Atlantic sensibility. (It’s the reverse move to Alabama 3, who featured in my longlist.)
Oi Va Voi  – S’Brent
I’ve already written about this anti-fascist anthem: It’s by Mordechai Gebirtig, who died in 1942 in the Kracow Ghetto. “S’Brent” tells the story of the burning of a shtetl, Przytyk, in 1936; rather than being simply a cry of agony, it is a call to action (“Di hilf iz nor in aykh aleyn gevendt” – help is in your hands alone) , and it was adopted as the anthem of the Kracow underground resistance during Nazi occupation. (Gebertig, incidentally, was a socialist, a member of Henryk Grossman‘s Jewish Social Democratic Party, which became part of the Bund.) You can listen to several other versions here (my recommendation is probably the one by Argentinian/Mexican cantor Leibele Jinich). Oi Va Voi’s version features the gorgeous voice of Agi Szaloki, a young Hungarian folk and jazz singer who specialises in Gypsy traditions. You can listen to some clips of her music at her website. I’ve seen Oi Va Voi live a number of times, and they rock. When I first heard of them, as “a drum & bass klezmer band”, I thought it was a comedy gimick, but I was so wrong.
P.S.  I know this is cheating, but here’s some items from the longlist: Chumbawamba and Credit to the Nation “Enough is Enough”; Alabama 3 “The Old Purple Tin (9% of Pure Heaven)”; Woody Guthrie “Deportees“; Apachi UK “Original Nuttah“; Ewan MacColl “Sweet Thames Flow Softly”; Junior Murvin “Police and Thieves”; Massive Attack “Be Thankful”; Johnny Cash “Man in Black”.

About bobfrombrockley

South London family man. Eating bacon bagels on the 171 bus, listening to Johnny Cash while reading Hannah Arendt, the kid next to me playing dubstep on his telephone. Mostly politics at http://brockley.blogspot.com and mostly music at https://bobsbeat.wordpress.com

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