Pitch Invasion!: A Review of Football’s Foray Into Popular Music

 

Artwork by Daniel Rubio.

Football and music. They seem to find each other era after era. From Everton F.C.’s 1984 FA Cup ditty “Here We Go“, to the entire register of Britpop that has relied on the game as it’s muse, that’s entertainment. Here, we take a surveying look at a few of the finer samples of this amalgamation of sport and sound. Enjoy.

 Vanilla Muffins

“The Drug Is Football”

Vanilla Muffins, The Drug Is Football, 2003.

Sporting a dedicated discography dating back to at least the early ’90s, these Swiss skinheads are no fresh crops to European followers. But it was with the release of their 2003 LP “The Drug Is Football that they finally garnered Stateside prominence. Soccer not only drives each track on the record, but iconographically emblazons the cover art as well. Widely- known as fans of the English pastime, the sugar oi! pioneers approprated the then mark of Premier League side Crystal Palace F.C for this fist-raising selection of footy anthems. Oi!

The Housemartins

“London 0 Hull 4”

 

The Housemartins, London 0 Hull 4,1986.

Better known for the Christian-Marxist beliefs of frontman Paul Heaton, these Kingston Upon Hull indie rock squares are also proper football fans, as seen in this promo for track 10, “We’re Not Deep”. Though the singer titled his eventual solo project The Beautiful South, the chance to take a shot at goal against London proved too irresistible. In addition to mimicking a match result, the bands opening effort is said to reflect Heaton’s position that his hometown held a quadrupled lead when it came to the number of “great” bands to have originated there. Cheeky, Paul.

New Order

“World In Motion”

New Order, World In Motion, 1990.

John Barnes rapping. Need I say more? Ok, fine. In 1990, the lowly FA somehow convinced musical gods New Order to record a tune to be used by the official World Cup campaign of the English national team. They miraculously obliged and what we got was arguably the best World Cup song of any national team, ever. (Sorry, Lupe.) It even charted to number one amongst UK singles that year, but was, strangely, the only New Order single to do so.

Fun fact: the title of the track was originally going to be “E for England”, but the FA quickly rejected this for fear that it would suggest references to the drug ecstacy. I’ve got a feeling the lads(and lass) from Madchester knew exactly what they were doing.

Way Out West

“Shoot”

Way Out West, Shoot, 1994.

While the world cringed at Daryl Hall’s unholy “Gloryland“, Bristol’s W.O.W. rescued us from shittyness and delivered with the the brilliant “Shoot“. Tagged as the unofficial song of the ’94 World Cup, it was obviously overshadowed by 50% of Hall and Oates’ immense creative genius. It’s a shame really because it totally stands on it’s own as a great house jam.

P.S. I was kidding about the “genius” thing.

Cockney Rejects

“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”

Cockney Rejects, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, 1980.

It’s no secret that London punks Cockney Rejects support West Ham United F.C.. What’s not such common knowledge is that the song they’re reinventing is actually an old American standard. The original melody, released in 1918  and written by way too many people, was part of a Broadway play entitled “The Passing Show of 1918”, which featured a young and yet-to-be famous Fred Astaire. Though it’s initial charm has rubbed off on the Rejects, puffing them to the Top of the Pops in 1980, the same can’t be said for their supportees. Alas, Fortune’s always hiding, lads.

Clement Bushay Set

“Football Reggae”

The Clement Bushay Set, Football Reggae, 1982.

The 1970s were a simpler time that saw simpler soccer and simpler sounds. ’72 in particular produced two massive examples of each: Brian Clough’s Derby County F.C. topping of Leeds United to claim the Football League title, and the release of Trojan Records legend Clement Bushay’s appropriately named “Football Reggae“. Simply, Jamaica loves football.

Colourbox

“The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme”

Colourbox, The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme, 1986.

The personal favorite of one of the group’s founding members, Martyn Young, Colourboxes theme that never was actually came very close to fulfilling beyond its name when the BBC sincerely considered picking it up for use in their coverage of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. It may appear definitively “’80s” in today’s jaded hindsight, but it’s easy to see how experimental this undertaking probably was at the time. The boys did have a hand in advancing electronica after all. And yet with all the major musical moves taking place, there’s still room on the front page for ole’ Jimmy Hill. Good on ya.

The Farm

“All Together Now”

The Farm, All Together Now, 1990.

The Subbuteo on this cover isn’t the only reason that this single is on this list. The little soldier is also a nod to vocalist Peter Hooton’s inspiration for the lyrics: the Christmas Truce of 1914. Hootan, a Liverpool supporter from Everton fronting a Madchester group(go figure), spent years maturing the lines after studying the events of the ceasefire until finally applying the finished texts to a baggy rendition of Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”. The historical account is reflected in contemporary times as the release of “All Together Now” generally coincided with the decline of ultra-violent hooliganism after decades of what was known in continental Europe as the “English Disease”. Dance music eventually helped to break this spell of tribal warfare on the terraces just as football turned no mans land into common ground that inspiring night.

The Throw-Ins

Dennis Alcapone – World Cup Football

Dennis Alcapone – Dub It Football

Fredi Marley – Ale Hitam (Football Song)

Cheers? Jeers? Think we’ve missed anything? Let us know in the comments!

Edited 19 September, 2016.

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