Thursday, 18 February 2016

My Top Ten Fish & Chip Shop Songs

What are you having for tea on Friday night?

Here's ten songs about Britain's great national dish... and the shops that sell it.

10. Denim - Fish & Chips

From Lawrence's middle-period (between Felt and Go-Kart Mozart), and the great "lost" album (until they re-issued it) Back In Denim.

9. Bill Bailey - Unisex Chip Shop

Bill Bailey does an excellent Billy Bragg impersonation / homage / mickey take... so good, if you close your eyes, it could be Billy himself.
I wanted to free her
In my dreams, I would see her
Running naked through the woods round Rainham
If I had some tigers, I'd train 'em
To protect her
From the sexual fascism that was lurking
Round the gherkins
 Mr. Bragg was a fan... he even joined Mr. Bailey on stage to duet on this very song. 

8. The Specials - Friday Night, Saturday Morning

In which Terry Hall pops into a chip shop very late on a Friday night... but only for a pie...

7. Eddie & The Hot Rods - Fish & Chips

...Eddie, on the other hand, knows exactly which Friday night food to choose.

6. Elvis Costello - Fish 'n' Chip Paper

I think it's a shame Elvis Costello got a bit sniffy about his early pun-littered lyrics, because he wrote some absolute belters - and often threw them away on album tracks. This is a typically bilious rant against the tabloid press, probably only bettered by Billy Bragg's Scousers Never Buy The Sun.
If you've got something to hide, if you've got something to sell
If you've got somebody's pride she might kiss and tell
Or wind up with a fight fan in the Hammersmith Hotel
You better speak up now if you want your piece
You better speak up now
It won't mean a thing later
Yesterday's news is tomorrow's fish and chip paper
5. Relaxed Muscle - Battered

Dark and scary, it's Jarvis returning to his Sheffield roots, along with The All Seeing I's J.P. Buckle and Richard Hawley on guest guitar. They're all off on a dangerous night out in South Yorkshire, where it's not only the fish that'll get battered.

4. The Lancashire Hotpots - Chippy Tea

Being a full-blooded Yorkshireman, I can only grudgingly award this song fourth place. If I lived a few miles in the other direction over the Pennines, I might have made it Number One. But look, I let them win against Sheffield, just this once... because the first ever Fish 'n' Chip shop was in Oldham. 

3. The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy!

This one's a bit of a cheat since Chips Ahoy! is the name of a racehorse in the song, not a chip shop. But it would be a great name for a chip shop and this is one of my favourite Hold Steady songs. So until I get around to compiling a chart based around Horseracing Songs...

2. Jilted John - Jilted John

It's still one of the greatest lyrics in the history of music (and arguably the best punk song ever), courtesy of the man who would become John Shuttleworth...
I was so upset that I cried all the way to the chip shop...
Bathos has rarely sounded so good. London Lee even named his blog after it.

1. Kirsty MacColl - There's A Guy Work Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis

Ah, Kirsty. We miss you so much.

Although They Don't Know had been a big radio hit a couple of years earlier, it failed to hit the chart due to distribution shenanigans. Which makes this, two years later, Kirsty's first chart smash. It always felt like a country song to me (despite the very British location: re-recorded for American radio as There's A Guy Works Down The Truck Stop...), but just to confirm that, Kirsty also recorded a full on yee-haw version. They don't write 'em like this anymore...
He’s a liar and I’m not sure about you...

Do you want bits with any of those? (Or scraps, if you're not from round these parts.)


  1. Salt and sauce or salt and vinegar?

    1. Salt and sauce? Salt and sauce!? What kind of heathen has salt and sauce!!?!

    2. Someone from Edindurgh -that's who!

    3. I like gravy on mine !!!

    4. Charity - so... do you have sauce on your Mars Bars?

      K - good song, still wrong on fish 'n' chips.


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