London Town


Jon confesses, “This is not a song I was terribly keen on until Paul Sartin turned it into Bellowhead’s biggest rabble rouser – so I have learnt to love it. I do prefer this slightly different version of the melody (the one Bellamy uses) for singing it unaccompanied.”  Mainly Norfolk covers Bellamy to Bellowhead via Tony Rose and the various sleeve notes make interesting reading. It is of course an essential staple of Bellowhead live and as it’s in London I see them play, has a particularly rambunctious and lively reception. As Bellamy points out, there are several songs on this theme with either party ripping the other off. I guess the sense of “Up to the rigs, down to the jigs…” means wise to the tricks and rather than the apparent innocent abroad, quite capable of acting out your own scam. It’s interesting to hear this shorn of Bellowhead’s power and pace, it somehow makes the dirty deeds sound all the more calculated, although I can’t wait for Shepherd’s Bush and the chance to bellow along.


22 Responses to “London Town”

  1. Simon Dewsbury says:

    so, back to ‘proper’ folk music then after yesterday. (mind you I’ve just got back from seeing Norma W and Eliza, who encored with ‘over the rainbow’, so there’s a lot of stretching going on at the moment)

    interesting that, with the same words, same singer and almost the same melody the protagonist of the song comes over as much less sympathetic than in the Bellowhead version.

  2. Reinhard Zierke says:

    This song seems to be the opposite side of New York Girls.

    Simon: There has always been a lot of stretching going on. Musicians believe in good songs; pundits believe in pigeonholes.

  3. muzza says:

    A lively,rumbustious,little chorus song and -Huzzah- we fellows get our own back for a change! (sorry about all those Sailors and ploughboys that run off for 9mths or so)
    Pundits/Pigeonholes……..more a matter of time and place.
    Many would be disappointed to go to an Opera and find the company performing a Bellowhead number……even though they are avid followers of both genres.

  4. Phil says:

    Reinhard, of course I believe in good songs. (Not sure I’d count “Over the rainbow” – that song was ruined by Eva Cassidy, apart from anything else, and probably needs to lie fallow for a while.) I was a regular at the local folk club for six years, singing all sorts of stuff; nobody cared as long as they were good songs. All good fun. Then I started going to a mostly-but-not-exclusively-trad singaround and was bowled over – all these great songs! where had all these songs been all this time? Not down at the folk club, that’s for sure.

    This is my point: there are lots and lots and lots of places to hear songs by singer-songwriters, from the X Factor to our local folk club. There are very very few places to hear folk songs – and that’s one of the great things about this site.

    Weird little song, this – I’ve never sympathised with the main character; he comes across as a dishonest little b*****d, and slightly paranoid with it.

  5. Shelley says:

    My five year old nephew loves Bellowhead’s version of this song, but fortunately, has only picked up the words to the chorus (so far……)

  6. Jane Ramsden says:

    I’m with Simon and Phil. The jolly tone of a more pacey version, which the song cries out for, hides what a thoroughly bad lot the protagonist is! So really you sang it properly, Jon, to reveal his true character; and I’ll take it as testimony to you being a thoroughly good chap if you were not so keen on it originally! I think the song benefits from the Bellowhead treatment, and the protagonist accordingly, by having his omissions glossed over through a different kind of racket from the one he got up to!

  7. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    A good song about an unlikeable person, but I imagine it provided the antidote to songs like Rag Fair and NewYork Girls where it is the young man who gets worked over. I can imagine this going down a storm with the male clientele in pubs and music halls in the 19th century, while the ladies sat and glowered.

  8. Diana says:

    Quite a change in that the prostitute got her comeuppance for once instead of the chap.

  9. Linda says:

    Bellamy’s word seem to give the impression that both sides were maybe playing the same game and for once the guy came out best. Is it just me or do I detect a slightly cheeky sound in Jon’s voice?

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    Sounds very cheeky when he sings it apace!

  11. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Ref Mainly Norfolk comment by Tony Rose
    ‘one feature in Charlie’s song which has always amused me is the failure of the last verse to rhyme. Rather than ‘correct’ this, I prefer to sing the text as I first heard it—that way it has a special humour of its own.’

    So come all young men wherever you may be:
    If you meet a pretty girl you use her free.
    You use her free but don’t get drunk;
    Just remember me when I was up Cheapside.

    I always remember a BobMonkhouse sketch where he was pretending to be a confused foreigner and asking directions to ‘Chee-apsi-dee’ (Cheapside)…….
    I wonder if Charlie had had the same comedic thought many years before and used it to make the verse rhyme!

  12. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Forgive me for an indulgence promped by the above thought……..many years ago,as manager, I was asked to return a call to a very irrate lady called Mrs.Sidebottom.
    The phone was answered by a very aloof gent
    who advised me that ‘Mrs Sidee-bot-are-may’was not available as she was presently shopping in Town’…………..I had to bite my lip very, very, hard!

  13. Diana says:

    Great song – love this one.

    Muzza I remember Bob M and His Cheapside pronunciation – was only talking about it the other day. He was funny – read his biography recently also witty.

  14. Dustin says:

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  15. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Just love still trogging my lonely path through all these songs and comments every day…
    .even had a chuckle at my own memory of Mrs Sidebottom(3 comments up)
    Also…in 2005 I was told I would die on 3 Nov 2011…..nearly did after hip op 2 Nov2011 but here I am…4 years on. Still clinging to the wreckage and having a folking good time listening to AFSAD!

  16. Steve D says:

    Stick in the wheel do a great version of this song, It’s not on their album ,but you can find it on Utube

  17. Linda says:

    brightens up a rather bleak sort of day we’re having today

  18. Old Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    See 3 comments above I’m still clinging to the wreckage eight years later (tempting fate posting a day early!)……Hey Linda….the weather still awful.

  19. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Wow…..managed another year…now nine…….will the old corona virus get me……. wonder if somebody will write a folk song about it!….the virus that is!

  20. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Ref My comment 2015……Hey…not only have I made it now 10years on….but the old three score years and ten have given me a bonus of 12 years…..AND I get to see AFSAD every day …what a fortunate old fella I am!…… gotta resist looking at tomorrow’s song before time!

  21. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Ha….ref my comment from 2015…..I am commenting a day early just in case the prophesy for the 3rd comes true and the lightning bolt comes a tad late… that case…. goodbye cruel world! and best wishes to all AFSADers!

  22. OldMuzza (NW Surrey UK) says:

    Ooooooer….had forgotten all about prediction for 2/3rd November 2011 and will now be a tad wary for the rest of the day!!!!
    Superstitious?….MOI!….yup…a little bit!…fingers crossed.

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