Travelling without music sucks! That’s why we dispatched our resident muso Ryan to create the ultimate playlist for your train journey from London Euston to Birmingham New Street. Two exciting cities, super accessible by train.
Hit the play button on our London to Birmingham Spotify Playlist just as you leave Euston, and it will see you through the entire journey.
1. ‘Accidents Will Happen’ – Elvis Costello & the Attractions (02:59)
‘Oh, I just don’t know where to begin…’ Well, actually I do! I’m kicking off our journey with London native son Declan McManus, better known as Elvis Costello, and this infectiously catchy track from 1979’s Armed Forces.
2. ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’ – the Clash (04:01)
I just have to include this London anthem by iconic punk-rockers the Clash. The track, a 1978 UK single, was truly innovative, detailing the emergence of the London Ska scene and incorporating Caribbean rhythms alongside harder-edged punk guitars and vocals.
3. ‘Going Underground’ – the Jam (03:04)
As our journey begins in the capital, birthplace of mod and punk, this playlist is starting out with a definite ‘punky’ feel to it. Technically, the Jam were from Surrey, but this definitely makes you think of London train stations, so, in true punk style, deal with it!
4. ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)’ Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel (03:59)
An Obvious choice this, given the location, plus Steve himself hails from nearby New Cross. It also happens to be a perennial prog-pop favourite and a fantastic tune to boot (not to mention the terrific mullet)
5. ‘Money in My Pocket’ – Dennis Brown (02:33)
This track is one of my all-time favourites, so I had to include it, really. The track itself was a huge breakthrough hit on the London reggae sound-system scene in the mid ‘70s and Brown spent significant amounts of time in the capital recording and performing live shows.
6. ‘What a Waste’ – Ian Dury & the Blockheads (03:30)
A classic slice of 70’s avant-pop from genre-busting cockney funk-poet Ian Dury – and if that doesn’t make you want to listen to the track, nothing will!
7. ‘One Step Beyond’ – Madness (02:33)
Don’t watch that, watch this! We take ‘one step beyond’ with Camden ska boys Madness, as we pass through Camden Town and on out into Greater London.
8. ‘Girls on Film’ – Duran (03:24)
From ‘70s punk through ska to ’80s New Romantic, as we go through Watford, home to Duran Duran heart-throb Simon Le Bon.
9. ‘Time of the Season’ – the Zombies (03:32)
A bit of a mellower feel with this ‘60s psych classic from the Zombies, fronted by St. Albans native Rod Argent.
10. ‘Once Around the Block’ – Badly Drawn Boy (04:03)
Although most often associated with the Greater Manchester area, indie singer-songwriter Damon Gough, otherwise known as Badly Drawn Boy, was actually born in Dunstable.
11. ‘Too Much Too Young’ – The Specials (02:05)
As we pull into one of the major stops on our journey, Coventry, lets have a short selection of the many fantastic songs produced by artists from the local 2 Tone ska scene, centred around the iconic late ‘70s/early ‘80s record label of the same name; the first comes from Coventrians (that’s a real thing, I looked it up) the Specials with this dance-floor Ska favourite.
12. ‘On My Radio’ – the Selecter (03:00)
Like the Specials, the Selecter where another Coventry 2 Tone group to achieve national success, this particular track being their breakthrough.
13. ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’ – the English Beat (03:02)
On our way to Birmingham now, with brum ska-punk combo the Beat bridging the gap between, having been one of the stand-out 2 Tone artists.
14. ‘Keep on Moving’ – UB40 (04:39)
If it’s reggae music and it’s the Midlands, it’s impossible to ignore the contribution of the UB lads; the group were actually named after the Unemployment Benefit form 40, and legend has it that they formed the group whilst literally standing in a Birmingham dole queue.
15. ‘Geno’ – Dexy’s Midnight Runners (03:34)
Closer to Birmingham now, and off in Search of the Young Soul Rebels, which also, coincidentally, is the title of the album from which this soul-pop belter is taken.
16. ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ – Spencer Davis Group (02:58)
Continuing the soulful theme, I just love the driving rhythm of this one, a 1966 hit for Steve Winwood and co.
17. ‘The Wizard’ – Black Sabbath (04:20)
Birmingham (and the Black Country in general) is the home of some seriously HEAVY music, so let’s kick things up a notch with Brummie Metal legends, Black Sabbath. Oof.
18. ‘Whole Lotta Love’ – Led Zeppelin (05:34)
Bands don’t come more epic than Led Zep, and this track is them at their show-stopping best. Iconic drummer John Bonham and banshee-wailing frontman Robert plant first cut their teeth in the Midlands heavy rock scene.
19. ‘I Can hear the Grass Grow’ – the Move (03:07)
The midlands also has a considerable heritage in heavy psychedelic music, this curio of a track by Birmingham’s the Move being an excellent example.
20. ‘Ride My See-saw’ – the Moody Blues (04:26)
Another ‘60s Black Country psych classic, from the group’s 1968 ‘In Search of the Lost Chord’ opus.
21. ‘The Day We Caught the Train’ – (03:06)
I just have to bring our journey to a close with this Britpop smash, from Mosley’s own Ocean Colour scene, don’t I? Perfectly sums up the feeling of hopping onboard for an adventure on the rails. Until next time!
Contributors: Ryan Magee