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Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant

Music plays an important part in our life - as do streets and cities. It's no surprise then to discover songs about places... The Placefocus Mix

The 1981 Brixton Riots (source: http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/brixton-riots-regeneration)The 1981 Brixton Riots (source: http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/brixton-riots-regeneration)Written by: Andrew Hammonds 

Thanks to: good old Wikipedia and Genius

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"Electric Avenue", one of my old favourites, was written, recorded and produced by Eddy Grant, from his 1982 album Killer on the Rampage.

In the United States, with the help of the MTV video, it was one of 1983's biggest hits of the year. MTV producers apparently put the song into rotation to add racial diversity.

The song's title refers to an area historically known as Electric Avenue - the first street lit by electricity in London.  In the 1970s and 80s the area was regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the UK - known for its high population of Caribbean immigrants and unemployment. The lyrics "No place to hang out our washing And I can't blame all on the sun, oh no" imply that the clothes will be stolen.

Tensions grew until violence hit the street, referred to as the 1981 Brixton riot. A year later, this song played over the airwaves.

Now in the street there is violence
And a lots of work to be done
No place to hang out our washing
And I can't blame all on the sun, oh no

 [Chorus]:

Electric Ave, Brixton: built in the 1880s is was the first market street to be lit by electricity (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Avenue)Electric Ave, Brixton: built in the 1880s is was the first market street to be lit by electricity (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Avenue)We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher
Oh, we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher

[Verse 2]
Workin' so hard like a soldier
Can't afford a thing on TV
Deep in my heart I'm a warrior
Can't get food for them kid, good God

[Chorus]
We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher
Oh, we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher

Oh no...
Oh no...
Oh no...
Oh no...

[Chorus]
We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher
Oh, we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher

[Verse 3]
Who is to blame in one country
Never can get to the one
Dealin' in multiplication
And they still can't feed everyone, oh no

[Bridge]
Out in the street...
Out in the street...
Out in the daytime...
Out in the night...

[Chorus]
We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher
Oh no, we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher

Now that the market has been re-branded a village, the area trends regularly among social networkers. People no longer associate the Brixton of the past with what it is today (source: https://evan-bartlett.com/2013/08/25/brixton-gentrification-is-changing-foxtons/)Now that the market has been re-branded a village, the area trends regularly among social networkers. People no longer associate the Brixton of the past with what it is today (source: https://evan-bartlett.com/2013/08/25/brixton-gentrification-is-changing-foxtons/)[Bridge]
Out in the street...
Out in the street...
Out in the playground...
In the dark side of town (HO!)

[Chorus]
We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher
Hey, we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher

[Outro]
Rock it in the daytime
Rock it in the night
Rock it eeh-dum-pum-pay
Oooh, in the brixton right

Do you have any suggestions for songs about streets, places and cities? 


We generate discussion in our training courses on Placemaking and urban design. While there are common qualities to the places we like, our own views matter. I started this blog to continue this discussion on-line. The Comments section at the bottom of each article provides the opportunity, so don't be bashful. Particularly if you disagree!

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Written: 14 June, 2016

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