Tuesday, 7 October 2014

My Top Ten Underground Songs

Still no time to write new Top Tens and my backlog is dwindling. When I post My Top Ten Pigeon Songs (the one I always hold in reserve), you'll know the barrel has been well and truly scraped.

Meanwhile, here's ten top tunes that live beneath the surface.

10. Sneaker Pimps - Six Underground

Even though it isn't strictly Britpop (trip-hop?!?), this reminds me of that era when I worked in a radio station record library, got loads of free CDs, and went to many free gigs. 18 years ago... yes, I'm still feeling my age.

9. The Jesus & Mary Chain - My Little Underground

Loud and distorted-to-fuck... like all the best J&MC records.

8 The Beautiful South - Hold Me Close (Underground)

Paul Heaton's morbid wit at its anti-love song best.

Potholers do it with the lights off
Hikers do it long and slow
I'll still be trying to get your clothes off
When I lie 6ft below

7. Kimya Dawson - Underground

Kimya's head is about to explode and kill everyone in close proximity. Great lyrics.

So I tattoo instructions on my ass
That say "don't ever put this body in a casket
Burn it and put the ashes in a basket
And throw them in the Puget Sound
I don't ever want to be under ground"
Oh no, oh no

6. Radiohead - Subterranean Homesick Alien

Imagine if aliens came to earth to find out what human beings were really like... and they ended up abducting Thom Yorke.

5. Curtis Mayfield - Undergound

What begins as a terrifying vision of a future world driven underground after destroying its home on the surface... becomes something entirely different, in a dark, sightless world where everyone is suddenly equal.

The Mole Man's favourite record.

4. Jonathan Richman - Velvet Undergound

Jonathan pays tribute to his biggest heroes and asks the question... how in the hell did they make that sound?

3. Ben Folds Five - Underground

A great song about feeling like you don't belong to any of the cool scenes.

Who's got the looks?
Who's got the brains?
Who's got everything?
I've got this pain in my heart
That's all
Hey you, with the long and lonely face
There's gotta be something else...

It wasn't just me, was it?

2. Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues

In which Bob Dylan invents the lyrics video.

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows...
1. The Jam - Going Underground
Some people might say my life is in a rut...
Well, what else could it have been?

The Jam's first Number One single has an interesting story behind it. Originally, Going Underground was meant to be the b-side, but a cock up at the factory meant it became a double a-side with Dreams of Children. DJs got to choose which track they played on the radio (ah, those were the days!) and Going Underground won out. It entered the chart in the top spot, something that happens all the time these days but was pretty rare in 1980. Putting that into further context, the Number One before it was Together We Are Beautiful by Fern Kinney... and it was followed by The Detroit Spinners: Working My Way Back To You.

Of course, this isn't the Jam's only undergound-related song... and I'd argue that Down In The Tube Station At Midnight is even better. But I'm saving that for another chart.

God, Weller looks young in this video!

You choose your leaders and place your trust
As their lies put you down and their promises rust
You'll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns
And the public wants what the public gets
But I don't get what this society wants

Go on, dig down into your record collection...


  1. Never ever thought I'd have cause to type this: Sound of the Underground by Girls Aloud.

    1. I'm sorry? Girls... Allowed? Are they a popular beat combo of the 21st Century? I remain unaware of their work.

  2. I Know It's Over by The Smiths, just for the implied underground when Mozza sings about soil falling over his head....

  3. Devo - Working in a Coal mine going down down - my ear worm song for the day LOL

    1. Devo covered that? I only know the Lee Dorsey original, I'm afraid.

  4. Good number one. The only one it could be. Steve is also right to suggest Girls Aloud...it's a very listenable song. An honourable mention from my collection for James Barry Orchestra 'Underground Lair'...anything from Bond cannot be faulted. The Chemical Brothers have Sunshine Underground, but I'm going to ignore Jamiroqui's Deeper Underground

    1. I actually don't mind Deeper Underground, compared to a lot of Jami's efforts.

      Which Bond film was that from?


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