Around Sheffield in five records
Just behind the station
before you reach the traffic island
a river runs through a concrete channel
I took you there once; I think it was after the Leadmill
Inspired by the time Jarvis Cocker took an inflatable dinghy down the River Don, Pulp’s track ‘Wickerman’, taken from their 2001 album We Love Life, is one of many songs influenced by the Steel City’s surrounds. As part of this issue’s vinyl celebration, we rounded up five more records with ties to specific locations in Sheffield
Arctic Monkeys – Beneath the Boardwalk (2004)
Not an official recording per se, but a rare collection of 18 early demos featuring the soon-to-be-famous ‘Fake Tales of San Fransisco’, ‘A Certain Romance’ and ‘Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ alongside lesser-known tracks such as ‘Ravey Ravey Club’ and ‘Choo Choo’. After handing out CD copies at gigs, the tracks were shared online and one of the first recipients was situated beneath popular Snig Hill venue The Boardwalk when he saved the files and passed them on, hence the name.
PULP – Sheffield: Sex City (B-Side to Babies) (1992)
An eroticised narrative tour of his hometown, Cocker grunts the names of various areas in lusty fashion to an electro-funk backdrop. Dirty sex in dirty tower blocks, a mass orgy taking place in Park Hill Flats, wandering the streets of Sheffield desperately seeking a shag – it’s a horny 2am text from Jarvis to the city itself.
Richard Hawley – Coles Corner (2005)
On the corner of Church Street and Fargate was the entrance of historic department store Cole Brothers, a common meeting point for courting lovers. The record sleeve depicts a young Hawley standing outside popular landmark Coles Corner, flowers in hand, highlighting the sense of romantic longing that runs throughout the record.
Human League – Dare (1981) & Heaven 17 – Penthouse and Pavement (1981)
These two hugely successful records were both born in Monumental Studios, a makeshift studio in West Bar with leaky ceilings and little room. It has since been demolished, but it was here, above a disused vet’s practice, that a charged rivalry between the two groups sharing the space (Human League recorded during the day; Heaven 17 during the night) led to them both producing arguably their finest works.
Tony Christie – Made in Sheffield (2008) (Yellow Arch Studios)
Despite something of a comical resurgence following the revival of his 1971 hit ‘Amarillo’ by Peter Kay, Christie’s follow-up album saw the Conisbrough-born crooner collaborating with some of the best songwriters and producers in the city. The album was recorded at the iconic Yellow Arch Studios and saw Colin Elliott and Richard Hawley sharing production duties, with contributions from the likes of Alex Turner and Jarvis Cocker plus lesser-known local songsmiths such as Martin Bragger AKA Billy Martin Junior; Sara Jay, who’d previously worked as a session singer with Massive Attack; and Mark Sheridan, guitarist in Hawley’s band who co-wrote two tracks on the album.