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August 13, 2007

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Yuval Taylor

This is all news to me--I know very little about the divisions in the UK scene--and it's fascinating. Is the whole "northern attitude" a pose, or is it real? What about London prole bands like the Clash? Are there any songs by these bands that reference their northern attitude explicitly?

Hugh

It's all quite complicated of course, and sometimes there is the same kind of proliness attached to London (or other) bands, but I think there is a definite respect in which northern bands have been treated as (and presented themselves as) grittier and more real than London bands (who can also be seen by northerners as tainted by being too close to the London music industry).

Plus there are real differences between the north and London, witness the difference between Eastenders and Coronation Street (if that means anything to you) - different sense of humour, different attitudes about a lot of stuff.

Songs that reference northern attitude explicitly? I'll think about it but examples might include The Fall's "Leave the Capitol", "The English Scheme" and "The North Will Rise Again" (the latter both from Grotesque) and, in a very different way "Cigarettes and Alcohol" by Oasis. "Common People" by Pulp could be mentioned - though it is maybe more about class than the north/south thing.

Hugh

One thing that is a little hard to disentangle here is the north/south divide and the relationship between working class and middle class. What I'm talking about here with respect to the Fall and Oasis is basically a northern working class attitude - Mark E.Smith's contempt in The English Scheme applies just as much to the Lancashire middle class as to "soft southerners".

However, southerners and the London media often assume that anyone with a northern accent is working class, and when bands play up their northernness it is more likely to be northern working class roots that they play up. Bands who actually come from nice bits of Yorkshire are most likely to pretend they are from Leeds (sounds grittier) and London journalists are on that basis likely to assume they are 'proles'...

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