Adrian Shaw, a programmer of our art-after-hours event, Late at Tate Britain, invites you to listen to his Spotify playlist inspired by the works of L.S Lowry - and add your own song suggestions

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  • Late at Tate Britain Programmer Adrian Shaw in the Lowry exhibition at Tate Britain
    Adrian Shaw soaking up the urban landscapes of the Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life exhibition at Tate Britain
  • Late at Tate Britain April 2013
    Late at Tate at Tate Britain, April 2013

Hi there - my name is Adrian Shaw, and I programme a selection of the Late at Tate Britain events. These events usually have a musical element so I’m often drawing connections between music and art. Recently I’ve been spending a bit of time in the Lowry exhibition and a few songs have been coming to mind, so I thought I’d pull together a playlist! 

Some of my choices clearly echo the themes and mood of the show but it’s mainly a personal response. My dad had been a miner and a factory-worker and for me, Lowry’s paintings evoke memories of growing up in a small Yorkshire mining community. My formative years were spent in Barnsley in the mid-80s with a daily dose social and political upheaval set to a soundtrack of the Manchester music scene and left-leaning folk. 

I hope you like it, and if you have visited the exhibition and any songs came to mind I’d love to hear from you - it would be great to expand the playlist! 

The Lowry playlist (listen on Spotify

L.S. Lowry Blitzed Site 1942
L.S. Lowry
Blitzed Site 1942

1. Wonderwall - Oasis
A slice of melancholic britpop from their second album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? There’s an air of despondency throughout this album that chimes with the exhibition for me

2. 24 Hour Party People - The Happy Mondays
The distilled sound of the streets of Salford set to a ‘baggy’ backbeat

3. Made of Stone - The Stone Roses
Seminal genius form The Stone Roses evoking late-night deserted Manchester streets

4. William, It Was Really Nothing - The Smiths
Perfectly apt rain-drenched grim northern realism

5. Hit The North Part 1 - The Fall

6. Trouble Town - Jake Bugg
The North’s latest gritty offering, the self-styled Nottingham Bob Dylan singing about escaping the grim reality of life in a northern town

7. Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
Lowry’s apocalyptic landscapes inevitably bring the stark and spaced out soundscapes of Joy Division to mind 

8. Bitter Sweet Symphony - The Verve
Suitably gloomy refrain Wigan rockers…’Try to make ends meet, you’re a slave to money then you die’

9. Beasly Street - John Cooper Clarke
The Bard of Salford at his acrid best with an Engels-like description of his local neighbourhood

10. Hollow Inside - The Buzzcocks
Manchester-soaked punk that seems to encapsulate Lowry’s strange and empty faces (and lives), with a dreary hopeless refrain

11. No Milk Today - Herman’s Hermits
Written by Salford-born Graham Gouldman (later of 10cc), an apt piece of 1960’s kitchen sink pop realism

12. Late Night, Maudlin Street - Morrissey
The title is an amalgamation of a book of short stories called Late Night on Watling Street by the Bolton-based playwright, Bill Naughton, who wrote about working class life in the 60s including in the play, Alfie

13. We Gotta Get Out Of This Place - The Animals
The band changed the lyrics slightly to reflect there northern industrial, working class roots. Anthemic call to arms to the working class youth to escape

14. Dirty Old Town - Ewan MacColl
Here Salford’s original Angry Young Man evocatively describes where he was born and brought up, painting a bitter picture of late 50s industrial northern England

15. Life in a Northern Town - The Dream Academy
Dreamy and slightly sentimental pop that somehow captures the melancholy of life up north in the mid 80s

16.  Yes…he was working next to me - Ewan MacColl/Charles Parker
This is a excerpt from a radio documentary from the early 60s which mixed interviews with songs to evocatively capture the day to day concerns mining families 

17. Close the Coalhouse Door - Alex Glasgow
A powerful folk song exploring the politics of the mining industry and its personal impact by singer/songwriter, Alex Glasgow, an ardent socialist, who grew up in a North East mining community 

18. Between the Wars - Billy Bragg
Commentary on Thatcherite Britain told through the economic depression of the 1920s and 1930s. A perfect backdrop to Room 3: Street Life 

19. King Cotton - Mike Harding
Mike Harding started singing in folk bands in Manchester in the 1960s.  This is a haunting song about the daily struggle in Lancashire mill towns

20. On a Monday Morning - Rachel Unthank and the Winterset
This beautiful rendition of the folk legend Cyril Tawney’s On a Monday Morning from contemporary North East folksters is a wry look at the daily grind

 21. Bus Stop - The Hollies
Another apt bit of kitchen sink pop written by Salford-born Graham Gouldman

22. Garage Full Of Flowers - The Inspiral Carpets

23. Timperley Sunset - Frank Sidebottom
Frank’s lanky figure could have almost stepped out of a Lowry painting.  Here he warps The Kinks’ classic with his inimitable brand of bleak northern surrealism 

24. The Paperboy Song - Jilted John

25. Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs - Brian & Michael 
This jaunty late-70s UK one-hit wonder takes me back to school assemblies and is probably where I first heard of Lowry.  I happened upon them by chance, performing this song acapella in the exhibition for a press interview which was almost too much to take in!

Listen to Adrian’s Lowry inspired playlist online

See the urban landscapes by the british painter L. S. Lowry at the Tate Britain exhibition Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life, on display until 20 October 2013


Congratulation to this wonderful idea! I've always loved to combine several senses to force art experience an art education. Thank you for a really personal view on the Paintings and thank you for the Inspiration!!

Elbow's Station Approach would be a good choice all about returning to Manchester after being away for a while

Thanks for your song suggestion Matthew, a great addition!

We've added it to our Spotify playlist, along with ‘We'll Live And Die In These Towns’ by The Enemy, suggested by Bridgeman Art London on Twitter. We’ve also added suggestions from our Facebook page, including a track by The Loft suggested by Peter Green, ‘Senses Working Overtime’ by XTC, a band requested by Mark Best, and ‘A Design for Life’ by Manic Street Preachers, suggested by Martijn Van Duivenboden. Looking forward to more Lowry-inspired songs!

I think English Scheme and NWRA by The Fall should be on there. Spoken with a true northern vernacular.

Hi Tim Many thanks! Genius! I've added these tracks. I also added Industrial Estate suggested by Chris Dutton on the Facebook page. AS

Ey up, lad. Tha's got nowt from Th'Owdam [Oldham] Tinkers.

You want Rochdale Mashers or Colehole Medley.

ay up Chris

Cheers! I've added these. Looking forward to having a propper listen. I didn't realise they were on Spotify. I've come across Success To The Weavers online. I also read somewhere about informal jazz (jug?) bands in the 1920's in Manchester? Any thoughts? Many thanks! AS

More tracks added:

Carl Reader suggested I Am Kloot so I've added the track Morning Rain of their Natural History album...seems appropriate. AS

A few more suggestions from Andrew Dunkley at Tate with some of his comments

-Making Plans for Nigel BY XTC "with it's reference to British Steel" -When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease by Roy Harper. "the original album track had Harper's acoustic guitar backed by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band" -Dirty Old Town by The Pogues -Panic by The Smiths "the only popular song to mention Humberside?" -Happy Hour by The Housemartins- "Hull's resident college band, the video of 'Happy Hour' was filmed in the Grafton, my local boozer at the time" -A New England by Billy Bragg "the imagery of the lyrics always reminded me of that miserable photograph by Don McCullin of a young mother pushing a pram through an Industrial wasteland in Co. Durham"

ps. I also added Flag Day by The Housemartins. AS

Mark Hingley suggested Dead End Street by The Kinks. Good to hear that track again. This has been added! AS

More tracks added, suggested via Facebook. Many thanks! AS

Lippy kids by Elbow suggested by Jonni Potts

Factory Girl by Sinead O'Connor with the Chieftains suggested by Steve Moran

Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths suggested by Sati Marie Frost

Shipbuilding by Robert Wyatt suggested by Joanne Hackett

More tracks added!

-The Lonely by British Sea Power and Sorrow by The National suggested by Sally Anthony -I still do by I Am Kloot suggested by Jonni Potts

plus a bit of Pulp for Billy Lester (no track suggested so I went for the apt but obvious Common People)

Also Dave Krynski commented that Lowry 'would pulse to the beat of early Northern Soul, obviously. Working class, vibrant and decidedly underground. Music of the outsider. The sound of the Twisted Wheel All-nighter at 4am or the Pendulum Club in 1973 perhaps' - I don't know much about this scene so any track suggestions welcome! Maybe John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers? I've added Crawling Up a Hill. I believe they used to rehearse in a pub in Salford?

Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford - it starts 'I was born one morning when the sun didn't shine/ I pickef up my shovel and I walked to the mine/I loaded 16 tons ... It's not England but it might as well be! The song has a melancholic gritty air of hardship about it which is perfectly in tune with the timbre of Lowry's paintings. That would be my choice! Great play list by the way :)

Hi there

Cheers! Yep, I know this track and I can see where your coming from! I'll add it to the playlist when I get a chance. Many thanks! AS


Durutti Column - LC, Factory Records 1981 Any track on the album