Following Dazed & Confused’s dérive through the aural alleyways of Nightwalking author Matthew Beaumont’s nighttime London, here is a round up of his top tracks followed by a very special selection of Verso staff nighttime music picks. Ready yourselves for gothic darkness, sultry glamour and hardcore pop…
Here is the first of Matthew's selections. For more, scroll down!
The Clash, First Night Back In London
“'To see my lovely town / That always brings you down.' Originally scheduled to appear on Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg, the double album that finally got boiled down into Combat Rock, this song describes a ride back from Heathrow in a taxi cab which is promptly stopped and searched by the police. It's a pared-back, dubby track with a crepuscular, if not dystopian, atmosphere.”
And Verso's nocturnal soundtrack!
Benga & Coki, Night
All together now: bip bip bip bip bip bip boo boo boo boo boo…
Camberwell Now, Working Nights
Three weeks on and one week off
That is how my life is planned
Eat, work, sleep when you're on the night shift
Wheels of industry turning around
Curtains drawn while the sun shines
Working hard all through the night - ah well
The night shift takes its time and takes its toll
Kevie Kev, All Night Long (Waterbed)
In this old-school classic, our cis-male protagonist envisions heterosexual encounters facilitated by his fluid suspension mattress. In between sexual conquests, he laments over economic and class oppression in the Reagan-era United States.
Mecca Normal, I Walk Alone
Riot-grrrl progenitors Mecca Normal released this song in 1986. In case the meaning of the lyrics weren’t clear, singer Jean Smith would later append the lyrics in live performances by proclaming, “Because it’s my right to walk anywhere, in any city, at any time of day, wearing whatever the fuck I want to!”
Bauhaus, She’s in Parties
Goth was an inward-looking, quietist reaction to the excesses of punk, and on some level a reluctant surrender to the coming wave of conservatism that characterized the eighties. The movement produced one really good band, and that’s Bauhaus. Frontman Pete Murphy took on all the horror movie schtick of the genre and melded it to a whimsical theatricality drawn from Bowie, proving that no artistic movement, no matter how flawed, is without its genius.
Les Rallizes Denudes, Strung Out Deeper than the Night
15 mins of strange psych-noise from the legendary Les Rallizes Denudes. The barely audible lyrics and the spiralling, distorted music which constantly builds to nothing is dark and creepy in the best way.
Maria Grazia Schiavo, De profundis: Vivace: De profundis clamavi (Chorus)
Who said that night has to be all doom, gloom and mood? Porpora’s De Profundis is perhaps the only version ever composed, to swap banal darkness for metaphysical light.
La Capella Reial De Catalunya, Sibil-La Mallorquina: R/ Al Jorn Del Judici Un Rey Vendrà Perpetual R/ (Monastère Des Nonnes De La Concepció)
Not all nights end at dawn. Some of them unfold relative darkness into absolute annihilation. The medieval apocalyptic chant El Cant de la Sibil-la is the prophetic tale of how it is all going to end. For one of those nights.
Hannah Diamond, Every Night
At night, every night, every night in the zealous sing-a-long 90s…got a dance routine and everything.
Tuxedomoon, No Tears
The creatures of the night have dry eyes.
Aphrohead, In The Dark We Live
This one goes bang bang bang. But it's dark.
Frank Sinatra, In the wee small hours of the morning
It's Frank's world, we just live in it.
Bruce Springsteen, Night
Kid Cudi, Day ‘N’ Night
Lydia Lunch, Pass Like Night
Lou Reed, Goodnight Ladies
Patti Smith, Because the Night
Bruce Springsteen thankfully dropped the song from Darkness on the Edge of Town and gave it to Patti Smith. Smith drained it of the Springsteen pathos and cast it as a joyful paean to the unbridled libido, freed from the woeful MOR noodling of the E Street Band.
Dusty Springfield, Another Night
Whenever a tour deposited her in some new city, Springfield would dodge her handlers, career along the unknown streets, and keep on going until she was hopelessly lost. Finding her way back to the hotel was a kind of game for a lesbian as reckless of direction as she was in love, a singer who instilled all her daring and passionate frustration into music.
James Mason, Nightgruv
Rainer Maria, The Reason the Night is Long
For those nights full of heartache and loss.
Jordi Savall, Menk kadj tohmi
The ney is possibly the oldest musical instrument in use today, 5,000 years after his invention in ancient Egypt. If there is a sound that truly runs through all one thousand and one nights, this is it.
David Bowie, Scary Monsters
"The Berbalangs may be heard coming, as they make a moaning noise which is loud at a distance and dies away to a feeble moan as they approach. When they are near you the sound of their wings may be heard and the flashing lights of their eyes can be seen like dancing fire-flies in the dark…. If you see the lights and hear the moaning in front of you, wheel suddenly round and make a cut in the opposite direction. Berbalangs always go by contraries and are never where they appear to be."
Mazzy Star, Hair and Skin
Night is associated with secrecy, mystery and melodrama. In Mazzy Star's Hair and Skin the protagonist is restless, haunted by the strange presence of another.
Percy Sledge, Dark End of the Street
In Percy Sledge's version of The Dark End of the Street a young couple take refuge in the shadows.
Here are some more of Matthew's selections. For the full list, visit Dazed and Confused.
Poet And The Roots, Five Nights Of Bleeding (For Leroy Harris)
“'5 nights of horror and of bleeding...,' Linton Kwesi Johnson intones in this brooding evocation of the desperate, cutthroat character of nightlife for London's persecuted black community in the late 1970s. The third night is set outside the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, on an occasion when a soul night at this music venue erupted into violence as skinheads and the police attacked the clubbers.”
Pulp, Bar Italia
“'You can't go home and go to bed because it hasn't worn off yet...' Jarvis Cocker reconstructs the nights in which he wandered around the streets of central London after the clubs had closed and ended up drinking coffee, as the sun rose, at Bar Italia in Soho, 'where the other broken people go'. With characteristic subtlety, he stirs memories of both the insecurities of this insomniac existence and his fragile sense of solidarity with others in the same undead condition.”