‘Sounds Maps’ – Music History of Peckham & Camberwell

‘Sounds Maps’ – Music History of Peckham & Camberwell

December 03, 2016

The first in Peckham Soul’s ‘Sound Map’ series documenting the rich musical legacy of Peckham, Camberwell, Nunhead and Queens Road. SE15 recording home of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, the venue which played host to Desmond Dekker and I Roy, where early gigs by Joe Strummer, Ian Dury, Elvis Costello and The Who took place, and the street in which Mount Kimbie made their debut EP. The map really does illustrate both the unique diversity and scope of South East London’s engaging music history.

A1.Camberwell College of Art: Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd), Karl Hyde (Underworld) Florence Welsh (Florence & the Machine).

An institution established in 1898, Camberwell College began with the avowed intention of giving the ‘best artistic and technical education to all classes in the district.’ Today it’s widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost art and design institutions. Its alumni include R.B Kitaj, Maggi Hambling Mike Leigh, Tim Roth and Howard Hodgkin, and musically, the alumni is none too shabby either. UK soul diva Des’ree, British Jazz legend Humphrey Littleton, and of course Syd Barrett, the mystic genius behind Pink Floyd’s early work, and electronic pioneer Karl Hyde all studied there. As did local lass made good, Camberwell’s very own Florence Walsh.

A1  Walmer Castle Tubby Hayes, Joe Harriot, Ronnie Scott, Sonny Rollins

Now lamentably the site of awkward looking flats, during the 1960’s and 1970’s Walmer Castle was one of London’s most respected Jazz venues. It wasn’t unusual for big visiting Jazz names from the States to do their West End gigs on the Friday and Saturday, and then make their way South for an extra Sunday session at the Walmer. It was also a home for the cream of British Jazz players. Tubby Hayes, widely considered the best Jazz Saxophonist the UK has ever produced, was a regular, along with other British luminaires such as Joe Harriot and Ronnie Scott.

A2  59 Lyndhurst Grove  Pulp Intro – The Gift Recording

The B-Side of the band’s 1993 ‘Razzmataz’ single, this is Jarvis’ acid vignette about being thrown out of a party populated by middle-class pseudo-intellectuals. Although, there’s been mutterings that the song, in essence, is a tale of thinly veiled jealousy. The song’s female protagonist, Susan, had apparently spurned the amorous advanced made by Mr Cocker a few years previously. It forms part of a ‘Susan’ trilogy of songs which the band composed.

B1  Dave Godin : b. 1936  5 Frankton Road

Alas, it’s too late for the Blue Plaque as Frankton Road was demolished long ago as part of Peckham’s 1980’s re-development. However, Dave Godin’s contribution to British culture could quite rightfully be considered profound and lasting. Born in Peckham and the son of a milkman, the young Dave Godin moved to Dartford after the house was bombed during the blitz. There he introduced a young Mick Jagger to Rhythm & Blues music, before going on to set up the UK Motown Fanclub. As Berry Gordy’s UK right hand man, he organized Motown’s first ever UK Tour in 1964. In 1967 he opened up ‘Soul City’ on Deptford High Street, Europe’s first ever ‘Soul’ Music Record Shop. Soul City also became a ground breaking label, licencing Soul and Rhythm and Blues music unavailable in the UK. As a journalist for Blues & Soul Magazine he coined the moniker ‘Northern Soul’ as a term to describe the pounding 100 mph Soul music being listened to in the industrial North. As a tireless champion of Soul music, he not only made popular music more inclusive, he also made it infinitely more interesting.

B1  Bouncing Ball / Mr Bee’s  Bob Marley & the Wailers, Eddie Floyd, U Roy, The Ronnettes, Tappa Zukie, I Roy, Desmond Dekker, Alton Ellis, Heptones

Even at the time, this was an underground club unknown to most outside the reggae fraternity and the West Indian community. Its programming however was truly epic, with a role call that includes many of reggae most celebrated names. It’s fascinating to think of a then unknown and penniless Bob Marley rockin’ a Peckham crowd back in 1973, only months before his ‘Catch A Fire’ album catapulted him to fame, making him reggae’s first international star.

B2  Dolehouse : RDF, The Levellers, Suicidal Supermarket Trolleys, 7 Kevins

An albeit short, but yet vociferous lifespan. The Dolehouse was the derelict Department of Social Security Building on Collyer Place which was taken over by a collective of anarchist punks and eco warriors between the spring of 1989 and October 1990. Hosting a number of events and benefits before their forcible eviction, perhaps the Dolehouse’s most memorable moment was the sizeable contingent it sent to join the ranks of the 1990 Anti-Poll Tax Rally. This was a rally, and subsequent riot, which has been widely seen as the precursor to the downfall of the Thatcher government.

B2  Highshore Rd : Mount Kimbie

Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, aka Mount Kimbie, have achieved international critical recognition for their innovative work within electronic music. Their origins go back to SE15, having recorded their debut ‘Maybes’ EP in the basement of their Highshore Street flat.

B2  YAM Records

Set up by a local DJ collective, ‘You and Me’ music is both a record shop and label and also a welcome addition to Peckham’s musical bio-diversity. With an independent attitude and collective ethic, the label typifies the creative approach taken by many in Peckham.

B2  Paradise Club  The Detours (First gigs by The Who)

Many claims have been made about bands playing Peckham during the 1960’s, although most are anecdotal. The Stones, along with other legendary beat bands and performer’s, apparently playing venues such as the Co-Op Halls on Rye Lane. Finding corroborative evidence is extremely difficult. This social history was considered by many too unimportant to document. However, with early Who gigs, concrete evidence exists as bassists John Entwistle kept a diary of all the band’s engagement right from the start, even when they were originally called The Detours.

The venue’s long gone and stood close to where the Clayton Arms is. Entwistle recounts a rather disconcerting story about these early gigs. For the first set the audience was exclusively girls. For their second set all the men and boyfriends would be there, bloodied after no doubt rucking with another local gang.

B2  Rye Wax

A basement full of beats, Rye Wax initially began as a record and vintage comic outlet, as well as bar and café. As Copeland Park has grown as a destination for both artists and artisans, Rye Wax has come into its own, hosting some of the capital’s most cutting edge and innovative gigs and events.

B2  Bussey Building & CLF Art Cafe : Fred Wesley, Brian Jackson, Fatback, Band, James Taylor Quartet, Afrika Bambata, Belle & Sebastian, Django Django

The daddy. It’s not an exaggeration to say that without the development of the Bussey Building, and the instrumental work of people such as Mickey Smith, Elieen Conn, and the involvement of the Wilson family, Peckham cultural renaissance simply wouldn’t have happened the way it has. Instead of having the Bussey, a cultural focal point for creativity and a stage which has seen some of Soul music most important innovators perform on, you’d have had developed luxury property which nobody from Peckham could afford to live in.

B2  Nines

A welcome addition to Copeland Park’s ever expanding cultural family, the Nines is carving out a unique art space, comprising of everything from performance art, to alternative comedy, poetry slams and left-field electronica.

B3  Canavan’s Peckham Pool Club : Rhythm Section, Bradley Zero, Choas in CBD

A Peckham institution, Canavan’s has been an all-purpose recreation centre since the Canavan family opened their doors in 1982. Amongst many other things, it’s currently the event home of Peckham’s highly respected ‘Rhythm Section’ label.

B4  The Gowlett

The home of eccentric disco, and well, loveable eccentrics in general, with great music programming and guest DJ’s, this is arguably SE15 best loved boozer.

B3  White Horse

A pub with a proud Peckham history. During the 50’s and 60’s its Jazz sessions were a big deal in South London, and for many Peckhamites it was their first destination on a night out, before going dancing in the Co-Op Halls just across the Road (now the Co-operative House). Taken over in early 1980’s by the affectionately known Michael and Mary ‘Hogie’ Hogan, the pub continued to be a meeting point for many local clubs and activities. With new landlords it’s still going strong with the original interior in-tact, music events and a warm welcome at its heart.

C1  Montague Arms : Gang of Four, King Krule, Metronomy, Carribou, Wombats, Tom Vek, Anna Calvi, Band of Holy Joy

From the idiosyncrasy of its taxidermy décor and the legendary status of pub guvnor Peter Hoyle and wife Bet, the Montague Arms was the very embodiment of South London pub culture throughout the 1960’s and 70’s. It even released a series of live albums on its very own ‘Montague Arms’ label. With the help of inspired local promoters, it also managed to stage gigs by a number of highly influential bands and breaking artists.

D2  Arwia Studios : Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Johnny Clarke, Pato Banton, Ruts D.C, Mad Professor, Sandra Cross, Black Steel, Sister Audrey, Aisha

Setting up his studio in SE15 between 1982 and 1986, the Mad Professor embarked on what was to be a period of truly dizzying creativity. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry recorded Mystic Warrior album there, Johnny Clarke made Yard Style, the Professor kick started his ‘Dub me Crazy’ series, as well as the cream of UK reggae all cutting records there.

D4  Newlands Tavern / Ivy House : Dr Feelgood, Kilburn & the High Roads, Graham Parker & the Rumours, Elvis Costello, Joe Strummer & 101’s,  The Stranglers, Eddie & the Hot Rods

In the dim light between the fertile pop experimentation of the 60’s, and the visceral snarl of punk, Pub Rock was created. Rejecting the stadiums of prog rock, and fuelled on  real ale and Rhythm and Blues covers, these Pub Rock gigs happened in a handful of pubs across London, with Peckham and Nunhead’s Newlands Tavern being one of its best examples. Dr. Feelgood regularly played, as did Ian Dury’s Kilburn & the High Roads and a pre-Clash Joe Strummer whilst fronting the 101’s. Elvis Costello was even up on the Newland stage when he joined Rockpile for a couple of gigs. Now the Ivy House, a unique community run pub, original gig posters can still be seen hanging in the back room of the venue.