The Lewisham Mixtape
Lewisham is proud of its rich musical influence – from punk to lover’s rock to grime. Taken from the playlist Catford Island Discs by local DJ Doo Lang, here are her top picks for songs that represent the Borough.
What’s on the list?
Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) – Steve Harley and the Cockney Rebels
Steve Harley was born and raised in Lewisham. He attended Haberdasher Aske’s School in a very musical cohort which also included Richard Wright from Pink Floyd and Chris Squire from Yes.
Steaming Train – Talulah Gosh
The band’s lead singer Elizabeth Price is one of seven Goldsmith’s, University of London alumni to have won the Turner Prize.
Temptation Inside Your Heart – The Velvet Underground
The roll call for Goldsmith’s, University of London alumni doesn’t end with the Turner Prize. Former students include Malcolm McLaren, Mary Quant, Lynton Kwesi Johnson, all the members of Blur and John Cale of The Velvet Underground.
You Can Get It If You Really Want – Desmond Dekker
Desmond Dekker famously lived in Forest Hill. However DJ Doo Lang dedicates this track to the determination and commitment of local sporting heroes including Ian Wright, David Rocastle, Alex Yee, John Regis, Linda Lovegrove, George and Henry Cooper.
Goodbye Girl – Squeeze
Since the ‘70s, there has been a healthy independent music scene in Lewisham. It has helped kick-start the careers of many local bands including Squeeze, who were based around the Crossfields Estate and The Albany, and emerged from the same scene as Dire Straits.
Who Do You Think You Are – Saint Etienne
There are two musical links here. The first is that this song is a cover of the 1973 track by Candlewick Green. Candlewick Green were signed by Decca Records which had a pressing plant on Lee High Road. The second link is Gerard Johnson who was Saint Etienne’s musical arranger and producer, who used to live in the borough and was the director for Lewisham Choir.
Slow Cooked – The Hannah Barberas
Many Lewisham Council employees have hidden talents. Shovell from M People was a plumber for Lewisham Council, Mark Knopfler was a social worker in the borough, while Chris Tarrant was a local supply teacher. DJ Doo Lang herself works in our Community Development team alongside a Hannah Barberas band member.
The Only Living Boy in New Cross – Carter: The Unstoppable Sex Machine
The name gives it away. The Venue in New Cross was a great place to catch live music and Carter USM were regulars in the 80s and 90s. Fun fact, their song 24 Minutes From Tulse Hill is the exact amount of time it used to take to get a train from New Cross to Tulse Hill when travelling via London Bridge.
Afro Pick – Novelist
The lyrics for this track include “I do what I do for the young youth, from back in the day when I ran for the mayor” Novelist aka Kojo Kankam went to Conisborough College and is a former Deputy Young Mayor of Lewisham (2012/13)
Free My Skin – Steam Down
Steam Down is an award-winning artist collective, weekly event and music community based in Deptford. Founded by multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Ahnansé in May 2017, their weekly events feature immersive melting pots of future soul, West African rhythms, spiritual jazz and UK bass music.
Writer, producer, singer and musician MNEK was born and raised in Lewisham. He attended Bonus Pastor College where a fellow student gave him the idea for his stage name, it’s his surname spelt phonetically.
Close To You – Maxi Priest
Maxi Priest was born in Lewisham. He began his musical career with local sound system Saxon Studio International, performing at neighbourhood youth clubs and house parties. He is one of only two British reggae acts to have an American Billboard number one with “Close to You” in 1990.
Jah Shall Reign Dub – Jah Shaka
Soundsystems are a rich part of Lewisham’s history and the Black British immigrant experience. Families built their own systems and threw house parties as a way to escape the racism and poverty they experienced on arrival in the UK. Jah Shaka came to Lewisham from Jamaica with his parents in the late ‘50s. He has been operating a local roots reggae sound system since the early 1970s. His music has had a profound influence on the Jungle, and Drum and Bass genres and reportedly also on the punk scene.
Ruff Mi Tuff – Tippa Irie and Mungo’s Hifi
Tippa Irie was an MC with the legendary Lewisham sound system Saxon Studio International, the first UK sound system to win an international competition. Other members included Smiley Culture, Maxi Priest and Papa Levi.
Guts – Kae Tempest & Loyle Carner
Performance poet, writer and musician Kae Tempest was born and raised in Lewisham. They say: “I feel so proud of being from Lewisham and, more importantly than that, it’s an integral part of my musicality, my politics, my understanding of the entire world and how it works. If I wasn’t from Lewisham I don’t think I’d be the artist I am.”
What would make your Lewisham playlist? Use #LewishamMixtape and tag us on socials @WeAreLewisham.