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Monday, February 06, 2006

Sounds of the Underground

Sound of the Underground by Girls Aloud"Musical" Sounds of London

A regular contributor sent me some mp3s from an album of Favourite London Sounds, which include a number from the Underground. These particular Sounds of the Underground are nothing like Girls Aloud's debut single & album (the best they ever did in my opinion), but are recordings of sounds which "typify" London. So you have Mind the Gap announcements at Bank, a rather squeaky sounding escalator at King's Cross Tube station, plus a journey on the Bakerloo Line from Regent's Park to Oxford Circus, complete with a security announcement.

However my favourite is the one of Brixton London Underground Station, as it's the only one that (to my ears at least) sounds musical. You will hear an official Tube announcement but it's hard to make it all out amongst the general ravings of religious "preachers", someone "singing" a rather strange song, and the cries of the incense seller. It's like a market scene from My Fair Lady (The Flower Market) or Oliver! (Who Will Buy) for the 21st century. Download the Brixton Tube mp3 here - it rocks!

A review of the album on the BBC's music site says

"There's even a spot of nostalgia with the once familiar tattoo of massed train doors being shut, a sound which Cusack ruefully notes is disappearing from London's mainline stations to be replaced by the gentle sibilances of automatic doors."

I totally agreee and if you listen to the sounds of train doors being slammed at Victoria Station, you do realise that it's a sound that we're not going to hear for much longer.

The BBC review concludes "London's getting quieter it would seem, but there's still enough noise left in the 21st century to make up this fascinating CD." If you want to get hold of the Favourite London Sounds CD, it takes 4-6 weeks through amazon but there are a couple of marketplace ones too which will deliver faster.


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