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What’s on YOUR pub juke box?

No it’s not.  Mine is.

I’ve been really busy, and then I’ve been away on holiday, drinking vast quantities of Estrella and Cruzcampo (and an accidental awful pint of Fosters) which means I missed the publication in the Morning Advertiser of My Pub Jukebox.

I get drawn to this column each week, like an itchy scab.  Every week, without fail, sales reps from brewers and pub equipment suppliers, and middle managers from pubcos, choose tracks by Queen, Bryan Adams, Michael Jackson, Chris Rea and Chris de Burgh.  I swear someone once even chose a track by the vile, unspeakable M*ka.

And every time I read it a bit of me dies a little inside.

Yes, I’m a music snob.  Far more than I’m a beer snob.  If I was as snobby about beer as I am about music, you would not be reading this blog.  You’d be trying to find my address so you could come round and punch me in the face.

So I abused my position and demanded the chance to do my own pub jukebox.  They said yes.  Sadly, it’s not a feature that merits inclusion on the MA’s website, so I can’t give a link to it.  But if you don’t have a copy of the MA dated 23 September, here’s my selection below.

If you like, you can debate it, and suggest your own track listing.  It won’t be as good as mine though.  Just live with that.

Pete Brown’s Pub Juke Box

“Long before I was a beer snob I was a music snob: a terrible, obnoxious snob who delighted in stuff other people had never heard of, or found unlistenable. Having said that, at least eight of these ten would liven up a night down the boozer.  Just accept that my music collection is better than yours, and we’ll get along fine…

1. New Order – Temptation

The soundtrack to my life – simple as that.  It’s been played at every meaningful event I’ve ever experienced; the sound of a band intoxicated by the realization of how good they might – and almost did – become.

2. Roland Alphonso – Phoenix City

I found this by accident on a Trojan Records compilation and it’s been my party starter ever since.  Why it’s not a staple cover of every ska band on the planet I’ll never know.

3. The Clash – Straight to Hell

If a pub has a jukebox that doesn’t have at least one Clash CD, I won’t drink in there.  It’s a litmus test.  Music but no Clash means the landlord doesn’t know what he’s doing, so the beer’s probably going to be rubbish too.

4. Arcade Fire – Wake Up!


5. Orange Juice – Consolation Prize

“I’ll never be man enough for you”.  A geek’s rant raised to something noble and majestic by one of the most inspirational men singing today – mainly because it’s a bona fide miracle that he still is – Mr Edwyn Collins.

6. The Blue Nile – Tinseltown in the Rain

Their albums come along less frequently than Halley’s comet, but that’s because perfection takes a long time. Songs of neon, traffic, bitter coffee and rain – the soul of the city, written as epic by the singer’s singer.

7. Godspeed You Black Emperor! – The Dead Flag Blues (intro)

From a genre known as ‘post rock’, the bleakest song ever written.  So dark it’s actually funny: “The sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides.  And a dark wind blows.  The government is corrupt.  And we’re so many drunks with the radio on and the curtains drawn.” I’m just showing off now.

8. Guillemots – Sao Paulo

While stuck on a container ship en route to India with a barrel of traditional IPA for my book Hops and Glory, I went a bit mad.  This wildly inventive group’s 11-minute caterwauling, multi-dimensional masterpiece was the only thing barmy enough to make me feel a sense of equilibrium with the world.

9. Elbow – One Day Like This

“Throw those curtains wide. One day like this a year would see me right.” Pubs used to play the national anthem at closing time. Now they should play this – by law – for a mass sing-a-long just before last orders. Talking of which…

10. Richard Hawley – Last Orders

From a man who lives in the pub, whose music is the pub, a melancholy piano solo to soundtrack a sleepy walk home after a night well-lived.”

My favourite REAL pub juke box is at the Shakespeare in Stoke Newington, London N16. It’s almost as achingly hip as my selection, and has the added bonus that it exists.

If you want a more crowd-pleasing version, the Beer Widow has already posted her response.




The Clash were overrated – never made the album they were capable of, certainly never made anything decent after Rope. Arcade Fire are waaaaaay overrated (or maybe I just can't listen to that guy's horrible voice). The Blue Nile – I'll be as offensive as I can by saying that I think they're pretty much OK: better than Deacon Blue, up there with Prefab Sprout.

But then you include the best thing New Order ever did, and the magnificent GYBE! (The car is on fire. And there's nobody at the wheel.…), and what is absolutely my… er… second or third favourite Orange Juice song ever (behind "Intuition Told Me Part 1" and possibly "Tender Object").

As pretentious Clash-cultist Arcade Fire-lovers go, you have quite magnificent taste in music. You, sir, are truly an echidna.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the late bus is leaving from the lonely station.


Your Godspeed track is ok, but 'Hungover as the Queen in Maida Vale' from the Peel session is infinitely better, and the best ever hangover tune. (surprise)

Secret pint by Mogwai. That should certainly be on there. Terrible omission IMO.

'Oh No' by Gogol Bordello. The ultimate loud stompy feelgood drunk song. An absolute essential on any pub jukebox.

Sabrina by Einsturzende Neubauten. If that isn't on your list I'm not coming in your pub, because it's not showing off enough.

neutral milk hotel – in the aeroplane over the sea. OK, you might need to wait until most of the punters went home first. But then we'll turn it up really loud.

The rest aren't bad, except there isn't any broken family band or any Hawkwind, and I've never heard of Elbow, – are they any good?


Achingly hip? Most of this stuff hasn't been achingly hip since 1983, grandad. Listen to your missus, she knows how to run a party.


Good selection, but I can't help feeling there is something slightly paradoxical about your use of the word 'hip'…

Pete Brown

Barm, haven't you heard? 1983 is about as hip as it gets in today's postmodern culture of margins around a collapsed centre.

Susie – paradoxical? I'm afraid since I turned 40 I've lost touch with what the trendy/hip word is for trendy/hip these days.

Stig – you have heard of Elbow really, haven't you? They're the first band in 20 years to challenge my devotion to New Order. Thanks for your suggestions though!


this, you and everyone here is/are all wrong Nowt wrong with the songs above but if you MUST have a jukebox in a pub and can't see the problem with the low hubbub of conversation, the gentle clunk of glasses on wobbly tables, the quiet thud of darts into cork, the reassuring slam of a door closing heralding a new arrival, the distant hum of a permanently on extractor fan in the gents… if all this ambient soothing sound aren't enough for you the best Jukebox in the world is in Bradley's Spanish Bar just off of Oxford st. It's packed with the best slightly warped and crackly rock and roll singles. Oh and FFS who put Celine Dion on…..


Gotta take issue with Elbow Pete: ain't nothing ever gonna challenge New Order, ever.

The rest is OK though.


What a load of pseudy wankers, each trying to outdo each other with their
eclectic musical tastes.

A proper pub should have neither music or a television.

It really is as simple as that.

That young master Glyn at The Rake has it spot on.

Pete Brown

Prof – heaven forbid we might try and have a bit of a laugh now and then. But you're right, I keep forgetting – pubs are serious, dour places and drinking is a humourless business. We'd all do well to remember that.

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com

Say no more on Wake Up, but I wouldn't waste listening to it at the pub. Needs a Rolling Stone loud sound system and the ability to get completely lost in the 'woahs'.

Hawley and Elbow – wish I had a pub that played them more often.


You have magnificent taste! (er…same taste as me in other words) I guess you also like EVERY song on "You Can't Hide Your Love Forever" like I do…in which case you should look up (if you don't have already) Breaking Point – Bourgie Bourgie, Your Charms by Cinerama, and probably everything the Clientele have ever done – particularly the Bonfires on the Heath lp.
Also enjoying the new Steve Mason lpm, everything by the Radio Dept. and the John Grand lp.

Professor Pie-Tin

Alright, bollocks then, I'll join in.
Can't be seen to be a miserable git.

1. Born Free – Matt Monro
2. On the Mighty Ocean Alcohol – Bap Kennedy.
3. It don't mean a thing ( if it ain't got that swing )- Dr John
4. Blue for Cuba – Floyd Dixon
5. Baptism by Fire – Tom Jones
6. Sack O'Woe – Cannonball Adderley
7. Margarite and the Gambler – Ricky Lynch
8. 'Nimrod' from 'Enigma Variations' – Grimethorpe Colliery Band
9. Train Time Blues – Amos Milburn
10. Honky Tonk Blues – Hank Williams

Harrumph !

Publican Sam

oh for the days of Talking Heads, The The, Bob Seager Band … but hey, your are right about Elbow … give me that "one day like this" feeling in a pub and I'll visit again (of course beer has to be good, serviced with a smile and lacking smelly toilets)

Pete Brown

That's the spirit Prof!

And for including Grimethorpe Brass Band, you outclass the most self-conscious hipster with effortless ease. Good work fella!

Martyn Cornell

You know you're getting old when … (number 936) … half the time you can't tell which one is the song title and which one is the name of the band.

Never did like the Clash particularly, even though I am barely a month older than Joe Strummer would have been were he still alive, but the Raschid Taha version of Rock The Casbah would get any pub on its feet …

All the same, by far the best musical policy of any bar I know is that of the Brugse Beertje in Bruges: classical music only.


Of course the classical music only policy would ensure your pub was filled (if at all) with Pete's favoured upmarket, aspirational, affluent cask drinkers 😉


Martyn — re: some classical how about Mahler’s 2nd if you’re feeling like a night of heroic drinking; Schubert’s Winterreisse if you’re feeling low and Elgar’s Falstaff if a night of pot-valiantism beckons.


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