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"Towers of London" is a song by Andy Partridge. It appeared on and was released as a single for the 1980 album Black Sea. It reached No. 31 on the UK singles chart.

A live version appeared on BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert, later on the 1998 Transistor Blast box set.

A rejected single version appeared on the 2002 Coat of Many Cupboards box set.

Single tracklistingEdit

UK doublepackEdit

  1. A-side: "Towers of London"
  2. B-side: "Set Myself on Fire (live)"
-Plus bonus single-
  1. A-side: "Battery Brides (live)"
  2. B-side: "Scissor Man (BBC version)"

UK singleEdit

  1. A-side: "Towers of London"
  2. B-side: "Set Myself on Fire (live)"

Holland singleEdit

  1. A-side: "Towers of London"
  2. B-side: "Battery Brides (live)"

QuotesEdit

Andy: “Supposed to be a bit Beatlesy. . .” Colin: “I think it was more akin to Ray Davies. . .” Andy: “Really? I always had ‘Rain’ in mind. . .”

Andy (on the BBC Radio 1 version): “A brisk, blacksmith approved stroll through ‘Towers of London’, architectural detail applied in liberal dollops on the end of a Gibson guitar by Sir Christopher Gregory. (I always wanted to burst into singing the Beatles' ‘Rain’ over the end of this number.) Somebody had knocked over Dave's ‘Les Paul’ and he hadn't time to rectify the charming (Ahem) ‘Youth Club’ tuning it had acquired.”

Andy (on the rejected single version): “This ode to the sad romance of London's Victoria era navvies was written largely (and appropriately) in the coal shed of 46 Kingshill Road, Swindon. I cleared the coal out, whitewashed it, and sat in my own dungeon, strumming. We started what was to become the Black Sea album in the old Polygram Studios, Stanhope Place, (which I think Paul Weller bought up a little later) and this was one of the first cuts. Virgin asked us to get this ready up front after picking it out as a potential single.

“I can't think why we didn't use this version. It's a little slower than the later Townhouse recording. And it does have an acoustic guitar backbone, but to my ears now, this only gives it a more loping swing. Anyway, this take was shelved. The thin reedy chord swells you hear in the verses came courtesy of Steve Lillywhite's new toy, an Archer amp and speaker, about the size of a matchbox. Steve had just worked with Peter Gabriel whose keyboard player would use one to tune up his synths with, quietly, so as not to disturb the others in the band. Steve thought everything sounded fantastic through it, so he rushed down to Tandy's and bought one of his own.

“When compiling this set, we found some banter between Terry Chambers and Steve Lillywhite at the start, claiming this too, was take one hundred and three, a running gag at the time. Check out the top of the Black Sea version.”

LyricsEdit

Towers of London

when they had built you

did you watch over the men who fell

Towers of London

when they had built you

Victoria's gem found in somebody's hell


Pavements of gold leading to the underground

Grenadier Guardsmen walking pretty ladies around

fog is the sweat of the never never navvies who pound

spikes in the rails to their very own heaven


Towers of London

when they had built you

did you watch over the men who fell

Towers of London

when they had built you

Victoria's gem found in somebody's hell


Bridges of muscles spanning so long and high

merchants from Stepney walking pretty ladies by

rain is the tears of the never never navvies who cry

for the bridge that doesn't go

in the direction of Dublin


Towers of London

when they had built you

did you watch over the men who fell

Towers of London

when they had built you

Victoria's gem found in somebody's hell


And I've seen it in a painting

and I've seen it in engraving

and I've seen it in their faces

clear as children's chalk lines on the paving


And I've seen it in a painting

and I've seen it in engraving

and I've seen it in their faces

clear as children's chalk lines on the paving


Towers of London

when they had built you

did you watch over the men who fell

Towers of London

when they had built you

Victoria's gem found in somebody's hell


Towers of London

la la Londinium

VideosEdit

PromoEdit

Promo video for "Towers of London." Uploaded by YouTube user "23Daves."

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