EXPLORE BRITAIN'S MUSICAL MAGNIFICENCE

 Hammersmith, inspiration for Motörhead, the Clash and Ian Dury (Shutterstock / Rainprel)

Hammersmith, inspiration for Motörhead, the Clash and Ian Dury (Shutterstock / Rainprel)

Wherever you go in Britain, you're never far from somewhere of major (or minor) musical significance. Whether it's a great festival or live music venue, a unique location that inspired a great song or album, a place featured in a famous lyric or music video, or where a random rock'n'roll story unfolded... the land that gave us both Billericay Dickie and Engelbert Humperdinck is lavishly littered with them.

Join us on a whistle-stop tour of Britain's Top 50 music locations, and hear the perfect tunes for each place courtesy of our Great British road trip playlist, the perfect accompaniment to our brand new Fastidiously Orchestrated Great British Music Map

TOP 50       PLAYLIST       WIN A MAP!

Britain's Top 50 Music Locations

Scroll onwards and downwards for our highly-debatable combination of the obvious and the obscure, our Top 50 Great British Music Locations. They stretch to all corners of Britain... from Glasgow to Glasto, from the Norfolk Broads to the Mull of Kintyre, and from Lord Hereford's Knob to Craig David, a delightfully-named bit of cliff on the Aberdeenshire coast. The Top 50 are arranged in a big loop, starting in London and heading north (ish) / anticlockwise, just in case the thought of a (frankly epic) road trip might tempt you.

BRIXTON

Rock down to... Brixton, home to Electric Avenue, the Academy and where David Bowie was born | Playlist: 'Electric Avenue' - Eddy Grant

 The David Bowie mural on Tunstall St, Brixton  (chrisdorney/Shutterstock)

The David Bowie mural on Tunstall St, Brixton (chrisdorney/Shutterstock)

Hammersmith

Namechecked by The Clash (‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’), Motörhead (No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith - their chart-topping live album from 1981), and... | Playlist: ‘Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3’ - Ian Dury & The Blockheads

Notting hill

Carnival! The world-famous annual shindig has been going since 1966 and attracts around one million people each year, making it Europe’s largest street festival | Playlist: 'Fearless' - Incognito (or anything else favoured by local DJs and Carnival stalwarts Joey and Norman Jay)

abbey road

The Beatles, the world’s most famous road crossing and that iconic album and cover photo (or the Red Hot Chili Peppers' homage with strategically-positioned socks) | Playlist: 'Here Comes The Sun' - The Beatles

primrose hill

One of London’s great viewpoints and inspiration for many a song, including ‘Fool On The Hill’ by The Beatles, and where Madness bought a car, which wasn’t quite a Jaguar, “from a bloke, from Brazil” | Playlist: ‘For Tomorrow’ - Blur, plus... ‘Wonderwall’ - Oasis, ‘Fool On The Hill’ - The Beatles, ‘Primrose Hill’ - John and Beverley Martyn and ‘Driving In My Car’ - Madness

Camden town

Home to the Roundhouse, cover photo location for the Clash’s debut album (The Clash), celebrated in ‘Camden Town’ - Suggs, ‘Come Back to Camden’ - Morrissey and ‘Sorted for Es & Wizz’ - Pulp | Playlist: 'Like Smoke (feat. Nas)' - Amy Winehouse

Oh yeah the pirate radio told us what was going down
Got the tickets from some ****ed-up bloke in Camden Town
— 'Sorted For E's & Wizz' - Pulp

soho

Combining legendary venues such as the 100 Club, Marquee Club and Ronnie Scott’s, with multiple references in song... ‘Solo in Soho’ - Phil Lynott, ‘Rainy Night in Soho’ - The Pogues, ‘Pinball Wizard’ - The Who | Playlist: ‘Soho Square’ - Kirsty MacColl

En Route Interlude - Other London Tunes

'London Calling' - The Clash / 'Galang' - M.I.A. / 'The Streets of London' - Ralph McTell / 'Witness (1 Hope)' - Roots Manuva (video filmed at his old school in Streatham) / 'Waterloo Sunset' - The Kinks / 'Up The Junction' - Squeeze / 'Dettwork Southeast' - Blak Twang / 'Baker Street' - Gerry Rafferty / '22 Grand Job' - The Rakes / 'Play With Fire' - The Rolling Stones (Knightsbridge and Stepney get a mention)

essex

Immortalised in ‘A13, Trunk Road to the Sea’ - Billy Bragg, and home to an assortment of characters, including not one but two ‘Dagenham Daves’ | Playlist:  ‘Billericay Dickie’ - Ian Dury and the Blockheads, ‘Town Called Ugley’ - Ward Thomas, ‘Dagenham Dave’ - Morrissey and ‘Canvey Island’ - British Sea Power

En Route Interlude

'Castle on the Hill' - Ed Sheeran (celebrating his home town of Framlingham, Suffolk)

norfolk broads

 A classic Broads view, post-mice  (Helen Hotson/Shutterstock)

A classic Broads view, post-mice (Helen Hotson/Shutterstock)

Once overrun by rodents, but also, where the Broads meet the sea at Great Yarmouth, video location for 'House of Fun' -  Madness | Playlist: 'Life On Mars?' - David Bowie (of course)

cambridge

Home to Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd, founding fathers of British psychedelia | Playlist: ‘Grantchester Meadows’ - Pink Floyd

And a river of green is sliding unseen...
— 'Grantchester Meadows' - Pink Floyd

coventry

Home to The Specials, The Selecter, 2 Tone Records and the two-tone / ska scene | Playlist: 'Ghost Town' - The Specials

birmingham

Britain’s centrally-located musical melting pot, birthplace of Brum beat, heavy metal and modern bhangra | Playlist: 'Birmingham School Of Business School' - The Fall

En route Interlude

'Midlander (There Can Be Only One)' - Bentley Rhythm Ace

black country

“Get wild, wild, wild” in the Black Country, birthplace of Noddy Holder, Slade and Robert Plant | Playlist: 'Black Country Woman' - Led Zeppelin

En route Interlude

‘The Manchester Rambler’ - Ewan MacColl (namechecks Kinder Scout in the Peak District)

sheffield

Home of ‘80s British electro-pop, Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, Richard Hawley and more | Playlist: ‘Sheffield - Sex City’ - Pulp, ‘Coles Corner’ - Richard Hawley

En route Interlude

'Fake Tales of San Francisco' - Arctic Monkeys (“You’re not from New York City, you’re from Rotherham”) / 'Grimsby' - Elton John (“I have loed every sluice in your harbour”)

hull

Strong provenance... the Housemartins (and their hit album, London 0 Hull 4), Mick Ronson, guitarist and chief David Bowie collaborator, Everything But The Girl, and the Beautiful South (who split in 2007, citing "musical similarities") | Playlist: 'Hull Or Hell' - Chumbawamba

the-housemartins---london-0-hull-4-1371662216-view-0.jpg

En route Interlude

'Scarborough Fair' - Simon and Garfunkel

newcastle

“We gotta get out of this place,” sang local boys, The Animals, in 1965 | Playlist: ‘Fog on the Tyne’ - Lindisfarne (or Gazza, if you prefer)

edinburgh

Self-styled “world's leading festival city”, birthplace of Rollermania and celebrated in all manner of songs... ‘Ramblin’ Man’ - Lemon Jelly, ‘Edinburgh Castle’ - Mike Scott, ‘Modern Dance’ - Lou Reed, ‘Shake Those Windows’ - Athlete, ‘Edinburgh Man’ - The Fall | Playlist: ‘Sunshine On Leith’ - The Proclaimers, and any of the above

fife

Quite the hotbed, Fife has produced the Beta Band, Kenny Anderson / King Creosote, KT Tunstall, Barbara Dickson, Nazareth (‘Love Hurts’!), Big Country and even some of Jethro Tull and Coldplay | Fun Fife fact: Johnny Cash traced his family’s ancestry to this Scottish peninsula, and recorded his Christmas TV Special from here in 1981 | Playlist: 'Fife Coast' - Saint Etienne

dundee

There may be “panic on the streets”, but don’t fret! Dundee is the birthplace of many musical talents, including the Average White Band, Danny Wilson, Ricky Ross (Deacon Blue), Michael Marra, the View and the Associates | Playlist: 'Jimmy's Crazy Conspiracy' - The View

kirriemuir

Childhood home of AC/DC singer, Bon Scott (born in nearby Forfar), commemorated with a statue, a plaque and the annual Bonfest | Playlist: 'Highway To Hell' - AC/DC

craig david

Yes. There’s a place called Craig David, a bit of cliff on the Aberdeenshire coast. Is it for real? Damn sure. | Playlist: 'Seven Days' - Craig David

 An unsuspecting piece of Aberdeenshire coast  (Ordnance Survey)

An unsuspecting piece of Aberdeenshire coast (Ordnance Survey)

 

aberdeen

Talents as diverse as Annie Lennox, The Shamen and Emeli Sandé all hail from the Granite City | Playlist: ‘The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen’ - Mary Webb

loch ness

The spectacular site for Groove Loch Ness (“Scotland’s biggest nightclub under the stars”) and lyrical inspiration for all manner of artists, including Coolio, Judas Priest, Eminem and the Police | Playlist: 'Water Beastie' - The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

 Loch Ness, Scotland, inspiration to a surprising variety of artists including Kanye West, Coolio and Eminem  (Shutterstock / Alinute Silzeviciute)

Loch Ness, Scotland, inspiration to a surprising variety of artists including Kanye West, Coolio and Eminem (Shutterstock / Alinute Silzeviciute)

En route Interlude

'Thurso' - Over The Wall

Orkney

Festivals galore… the Orkney Folk Festival, St Magnus International Festival, Orkney Jazz Festival, and the Orkney Blues Festival | Playlist: ‘The Seal of Seasons’ - Tyrannosaurus Rex


Great British Road Trip Playlist

HIT THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD

Whether you're walking 500 miles or just like driving in your car, here are some 'location-appropriate' tunes to accompany your travels. 

It is possible, mathematically, for two people to agree on a playlist, even one that’s stupidly ambitious. But agreeing on a selection of tunes to represent the musical destinations of an entire land is - let’s face it - about as likely as Rick Astley ever giving you up. So this is just a start. You almost certainly won't agree with all the selections here but we hope at least some of them put a large grin on your face as you hit the road.

Happy motorin'!


Britain's Top 50 Music Locations (Cont'd)

ullapool

Ullapool, in the stunning setting of Loch Broom, is the northwest Highlands’ musical capital, its star attraction being Loopallu, one of the best-located (and most highly regarded) festivals in Britain | Playlist: 'Young As The Morning Old As The Sea' - Passenger

 Callanish Standing Stones, Lewis, Outer Hebrides  (VisitScotland)

Callanish Standing Stones, Lewis, Outer Hebrides (VisitScotland)

outer hebrides

The stunning home to HebCelt, the Hebridean Celtic Festival, and the Eilean Dorcha Festival on Benbecula | Playlist: ‘Wonders of Lewis’ - The Waterboys

skye

Romanticised in traditional songs such as ‘The Skye Boat Song’ and ‘The Road to the Isles’, and home to the Skye Live festival | Playlist: ‘The Skye Boat Song’ - Trad.

fingal's cave

Inspiration, and alternative name, for Felix Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture (the composer visited Staffa island and its unique basalt cave in 1829) | Playlist: Hebrides Overture - Felix Mendelssohn

 Staffa, on Scotland's west coast, with Fingal's Cave to the right - inspiration to Felix Mendelssohn in the 19th century  (Shutterstock / Daniel Sockwell)

Staffa, on Scotland's west coast, with Fingal's Cave to the right - inspiration to Felix Mendelssohn in the 19th century (Shutterstock / Daniel Sockwell)

mull of kintyre

The Mull (meaning ‘headland') of Kintyre, a lovely peninsula on Scotland’s south-west coast, and the name of Wings' cod-folk chart-topper in 1977, the first single to sell over two million copies in Britain | Playlist: 'Mull Of Kintyre' - Wings

En route Interlude

'Isle of Arran' - Loyle Carner / 'Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond' - Trad.

glasgow

 The famous neon of Barrowlands, Glasgow  (Shutterstock / kay roxby)

The famous neon of Barrowlands, Glasgow (Shutterstock / kay roxby)

Legendary venues like Barrowlands, Sub Club, Optimo, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut (where Alan McGee discovered Oasis) and The Apollo Theatre (now closed, but where AC/DC’s live album If You Want Blood You've Got It was recorded in 1978) | Did you know… Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport was the scene of Elvis Presley’s only visit to Britain? The King of Rock’n’Roll touched down briefly in 1960 on the way home from military service abroad. | Playlist: ‘I Belong to Glasgow’ - Carl Peterson, 'Super Trouper' - ABBA and ‘I Wish I Was In Glasgow’ - Billy Connolly

I was sick and tired of everything
When I called you last night from Glasgow
— ‘Super Trouper’ - ABBA

dumfries & galloway

Location of Electric Fields, Eden Festival and Knockengorroch (“a global hoedown in the hills”), and birthplace of superstar DJ, songwriter and producer Calvin Harris | Playlist: 'Acceptable In The 80s' - Calvin Harris

En route Interlude

'Night Mail' - Public Service Broadcasting

ilkley moor

Inspiration for Yorkshire’s unofficial anthem, ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at’, a song about courting someone called Mary Jane, in the middle of nowhere, without the appropriate headwear | Playlist: ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at’ - Trad.

En route Interlude

'Wuthering Heights' - Kate Bush

leeds

True, BBC Radio Leeds may have voted Black Lace (responsible for ‘Agadoo’) Yorkshire Band of the Year in 1977, but here you'll also find one half of the Reading and Leeds festivals and the university refectory where the Who’s celebrated Live At Leeds was recorded in 1970 | Playlist: 'My Generation' - The Who, 'Panic' - The Smiths

manchester

A combination of iconic, era-defining bands, legendary venues and a multitude of songs celebrating this illustrious city | Playlist: ‘Manchester’ - The Beautiful South, and any of your favourites from ‘Rusholme Ruffians’ - The Smiths, ‘Manchester Rambler’ - Ewan MacColl, ‘Round Are Way’ - Oasis, ‘Station Approach’ - Elbow, ‘Cheetham Hill’ and ‘City Hobgoblins’ - The Fall, ‘I'm in Love With the Girl on the Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk’ - The Freshies, ‘Fallowfield Hillbilly’ - The Courteeners, ‘Mancunian Way’ - Take That, ‘Beasley Street’ - John Cooper Clarke, ‘Whippin' Piccadilly’ - Gomez... and, maybe best of all, John Shuttleworth's 'You're Like Manchester'

You’re like Manchester, you’ve got Strangeways
— 'You're Like Manchester' - John Shuttleworth

salford

Salford has a lot going on… it’s been sung about, spawned several iconic bands and has festivals and live music venues galore | Playlist: ‘Dirty Old Town’ - Ewan MacColl

En Route Interlude

'It’s Grim Up North' - The JAMs

widnes

Location of the Stone Roses’ generation-defining concert on Spike Island, in 1990, and the railway station where a homesick Paul Simon wrote... | Playlist: ‘Homeward Bound’ - Simon and Garfunkel

I’m sitting in the railway station, got a ticket to my destination
— ‘Homeward Bound’ - Simon and Garfunkel

liverpool

Home to the Fab Four and the most famous ferry crossing in music | Playlist: ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ - Gerry and the Pacemakers, ‘Penny Lane’ - The Beatles, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ - The Beatles, ‘Going Down to Liverpool’ - Katrina and The Waves, ‘Long Haired Lover From Liverpool’ - Little Jimmy Osmond, ‘I Wish I Was Back In Liverpool’ - The Dubliners, ‘In Liverpool’ - Suzanne Vega, ‘Mersey Paradise’ - Stone Roses

 A Mersey ferry, an unmissable part of any music-themed tour of Britain  (Shutterstock / Debu55y)

A Mersey ferry, an unmissable part of any music-themed tour of Britain (Shutterstock / Debu55y)

north wales

Home to great festivals such as Festival No.6 in Portmeirion, the Llandudno Jazz Festival and the Llangollen International Music Festival | Playlist: ‘Bottleneck at Capel Curig’ - Half Man Half Biscuit

En route Interlude

'Bron-Yr-Aur' - Led Zeppelin / 'Bron-Y-Aur Stomp' - Led Zeppelin / 'Hergest Ridge', parts 1 & 2 - Mike Oldfield

lord hereford's knob

 Lord Hereford's Knob, in the Brecon Beacons  (Shutterstock / BerndBrueggemann)

Lord Hereford's Knob, in the Brecon Beacons (Shutterstock / BerndBrueggemann)

A hill in the mighty Brecon Beacons immortalised in song | Playlist: ‘Lord Hereford's Knob’ - Half Man Half Biscuit

swansea & the gower

Location of the Gower Folk Festival, great live music in Swansea and From Busk Til Dawn | Playlist: 'Keep On Runnin' - The Spencer Davis Group (Spencer being a Swansea lad)

cardiff

Capital of the Land of Song, Cardiff is also the focal point for Wales’ live music scene | Playlist: ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ - Ian Dury & the Blockheads, ‘The Girl From Tiger Bay’ - Shirley Bassey

bristol

Famous for Massive Attack, Tricky and chums, but even more famous for Bristol Zoo's namecheck in a Welsh rap classic | Playlist: ‘Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do’ - Goldie Lookin’ Chain

bath

Home to Solsbury Hill, scene of Peter Gabriel’s cosmic experience in 1977 and name of the Top 20 hit it inspired, and festivals going back to the 1970 Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music | Playlist: 'Solsbury Hill' - Peter Gabriel

glastonbury

Location of the largest greenfield music festival in the world | Playlist: ‘No Ferry To Glastonbury’ - Adge Cutler / The Wurzels

 Glastonbury  (benny hawes / Shutterstock)

Glastonbury (benny hawes / Shutterstock)

cornwall

Home to such diverse musical delights as sea shanties, Aphex Twin, the Pirates of Penzance | Playlist: 'Tir Ha Mor' - Gwenno, 'St. Michael's Mount + Mont St. Michel' - Aphex Twin, 'This Is A Low' - Blur

And the Queen, she’s gone round the bend
Jumped off Land’s End
— 'This Is A Low' - Blur

En route Interlude

‘I've Been Everywhere Too’ - The Kit Hillbillies

the english riviera

 Metronomy’s English Riviera album cover features artwork from old tourism posters

Metronomy’s English Riviera album cover features artwork from old tourism posters

A lovely stretch of Devon coastline giving its name to local band Metronomy's 2011 album, and close by are the birthplaces of Serge Pizzorno and Chris Martin, plus festivals in beautiful locations like Grinagog, in the grounds of Torquay’s Torre Abbey | Playlist: The Bay' - Metronomy

stonehenge

 “… and they do live well.” Stonehenge as celebrated by Spinal Tap  (Shutterstock / Nicholas E Jones)

“… and they do live well.” Stonehenge as celebrated by Spinal Tap (Shutterstock / Nicholas E Jones)

“In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history...” Nobody before or since has quite managed to sum up the spiritual importance of Stonehenge as well as Spinal Tap | Playlist: 'Stonehenge' - Spinal Tap

reading

“If you don’t stop throwing bottles, I’ll play Bee Gees records!”
— John Peel (Reading Festival, 1988)

The illustrious Reading Festival is the world's oldest popular music festival still in existence | Playlist: 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' - Bonnie Tyler (not from Reading, it's true, but she did win over a rowdy, pugnacious Reading festival crowd in 1988)

En route Interlude

'The Ballad of John and Yoko' - The Beatles / 'Sorted for E's & Wizz' - Pulp

isle of wight

 The Fastidiously Orchestrated Great British Music Map

The Fastidiously Orchestrated Great British Music Map

Home to the famous festival, as well as the cottage The Beatles were going to rent (if it's not too dear) | Playlist: ‘When I'm Sixty Four’ - The Beatles

brighton

 Brighton  (Shutterstock / William Perugini)

Brighton (Shutterstock / William Perugini)

An impressively disproportionate number of live music venues for its size, including Brighton Dome (host of the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, which ABBA won with ‘Waterloo’), home to Big Beat, scene of the Mods vs. Rockers fisticuffs in 1964 and immortalised in many a song | Playlist: ‘You're Not from Brighton’ - Fatboy Slim

En route Interlude

'(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover' - Vera Lynn / 'Margate' - Chas and Dave / 'Cool For Cats - Squeeze

 TOP 50       PLAYLIST


Win A Marvellous Map!

All these locations, and hundreds more, feature on our Fastidiously Orchestrated Great British Music Map, and we're giving some away… Simply take this ludicrously quick survey about your favourite British music locations and you could WIN BIG!