‘London Calling’: Jools Holland’s personal guide to London’s musical history

Musician, cheeky-chappie, and renowned Boogie-Woogie pianist, Jools Holland takes a personal tour through the theaters, music halls and performance venues, at the heart of London’s diverse musical history.

Unlike Chicago blues or Memphis soul, London has no one definitive sound. Its noisy history is full of grime, clamour, industry and countless different voices demanding to be heard. But there is a strain of street-wise realism that is forever present, from its world-famous nursery rhymes to its music hall traditions, and from the Broadside Ballad through to punk and beyond.

Jools’s investigation - at once probing and humorous - identifies the many ingredients of a salty tone that could be called ‘the London sound’ as he tracks through the centuries from the ballads of Tyburn Gallows to Broadside publishing in Seven Dials in the 18th century, to Wilton’s Music Hall in the late 19th century, to the Caribbean sounds and styles that first docked at Tilbury with the Windrush in 1948, to his own conception to the strains of Humphrey Lyttelton at the 100 Club in 1957.

On the way, Jools meets Ray Davies, Damon Albarn, Suggs from Madness, Roy Hudd, Lisa Hannigan, Joe Brown and Eliza Carthy who perform and talk about such classic songs as “London Bridge is Falling Down”, “While London Sleeps”, “Knocked ‘Em in the Old Kent Road”, “St James Infirmary Blues” and “Oranges and Lemons”.


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7 Classic Tracks

Age may weary and death may claim, but the ears will not condemn this fine selection of essential listening from Blondie, Joe Strummer, Ian Dury, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen taken from Later with Jools Holland.

01. Blondie - “Heart of Glass” from 1998
02. Joe Strummer - “London Calling” from 2000
03. Ian Dury - “Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” from 1998
04. Sonic Youth- “Sacred Trickster” from 2009
05. David Bowie - “Ashes to Ashes” from 1999
06. Johnny Cash - “Folsom Prison Blues” from 1994
07. Leonard Cohen - “Dance me to the End of Love” from 1993


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Lou Reed and Metallica mutilate ‘White Light/White Heat’ on British TV November 8

Lou Reed and Metallica in hit and run accident leave White Light/White Heat dead on the side of the highway - rock and roll road kill.

Everything about this is just plain wrong, from Metallica’s dunderhead playing to Reed’s total inability to find the pocket of the song…which is understandable because there is none. What is not understandable is why Reed continues to trash the Velvet Underground’s legacy. Can the surviving members of VU get a cease and desist order?

This is like watching a beloved friend racing toward the edge of a cliff in an out-of-control 1978 Ford Pinto - a sense of helpless dread overcomes you as you avert your eyes and pray for Divine intervention.

Just when you think it couldn’t get worse, Loutallica shows you just how bottomless the pit is. And that Lars fuck should have his hands bound with chicken wire and never allowed anywhere near a drum kit.

“If all this makes you feel sorry for him, then you can compliment yourself on being a real Lou Reed fan. Because that’s exactly what he wants.” Lester Bangs, 1973.

Later With Jools Holland, November 8, 2011.

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Jools in Jamaica: Lost early-‘80s BBC reggae documentary hosted by founder of Squeeze

Fresh out of his tenure with new wave stars Squeeze, 25-year-old musician Jools Holland had launched his career as a TV presenter on the BBC channel 4 show The Tube. Assigned to cover Jamaica’s music scene circa 1984, the confident Holland strode right in to Kingston and made it happen.

Expertly directed by Geoff Wonfor, Jools’s special features footage of rising stars Mutabaruka, Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru and the Wailing Souls, along with spotlights on legendary riddim section Sly & Robbie and maniac producer Lee “Scratch” Perry (who claims he “comes from the trees”).

Not satisfied with the established stars, Wonfor and Holland prove their cred by including a gritty dancehall sequence with star microphone men Yellowman, Billy Boyo, Massive Dread and Lee van Cleef. They all do well until the on-fire Eek a Mouse suddenly hits the stage in pancho and sombrero and turns the place out.

Bookended by his intro while swimming fully dressed through a hotel pool and a beautiful finale shoot in heaviest Trenchtown for his big-band/ska tune “Black Beauty,” Jools in Jamaica is a remarkably bright document of an island in its deepest post-independence economic and political depths.

After the jump, catch the rest of the doc…

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