National Album Day 2023: Six records of London - Harry Styles to Libertines, Blur to Amy Winehouse

From The Beatles to Stormzy, London has been a world centre for pop music. We pick out records that evoke the city.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Streaming may have seen LPs becoming less central to the music industry, but for many of us the album is a precious thing.

To mark National Album Day 2023 (October 14), journalists in our newsroom have given their thoughts on some records that remind them of London.

Those albums are not necessarily about London, or even made in the capital, but they evoke memories of our times in the city.

Back To Black - Amy Winehouse (2006)

For all London's unparalleled pop heritage, Amy's shadow hangs over the north of the city like no other. The brevity of her career - just two albums - and the very public nature of her life and death in Camden, along with the sheer mass of talent, make her unique in modern music. Back To Black is commercial and edgy, joyful and heartbreaking - music that will last through the generations and will always conjure north London for me. (André Langlois, editor)

Harry Styles - Harry Styles (2017)

While Harry is a Hampstead local himself, his self-titled album takes me back to my early days living in the city. Released just before I moved to London for university, Only Angel and Woman were some of the tracks that helped spice up long study sessions and late-night library visits. (Amber Peake, entertainment reporter)

Up the Bracket - The Libertines (2002)

It may be more than 20 years since the likely lads took London’s, and the country’s, indie scene by storm with their electric debut, but The Libertines’ Up the Bracket is still the album I associate most with the capital. Pete Docherty and Carl Barat’s chemistry was dangerous, exciting and, at that point, fruitful, and they were central to a Camden scene which featured a series of future stars, Amy Winehouse among them. As a kid I was in awe of this collection of musicians in north London, something which has hardly abated since moving to the city as an adult. Up the Bracket, in short, reminds me most of London, because it couldn’t have been made anywhere else. (Ben Lynch, reporter)

For National Album Day 2023, LondonWorld looks back on albums that evoke the city.For National Album Day 2023, LondonWorld looks back on albums that evoke the city.
For National Album Day 2023, LondonWorld looks back on albums that evoke the city.

Pony - Rex Orange County (2019)

I'd just moved from Brighton to London, and listened to Rex on repeat during my Tube commutes - feeling like a real adult for the first time. I love this album, I remember thinking I'd found a hybrid of two of my favourite artists - Frank Ocean and Tom Misch. Whenever I hear a song from that album, I'm always transported back to being excited, anxious and in awe of London - the big city that felt so unfamiliar back then, but feels so familiar now. (Jack Abela, video journalist)

Psychodrama - Dave (2019)

London rapper Dave addressed mental health head-on with his 2019 album, picking up the Mercury Prize and Album of the Year at the Brits. It's a challenging and dense record, a concept album set around a therapy session. One of its centrepieces is the manic Streatham, laying out life and its challenges for many in south London. (André Langlois)

The Ballad of Darren - Blur (2023)

I couldn't let this article pass without mentioning Blur. It might easily have been Modern Life Is Rubbish ("London ice cracks on a seamless line. He's hanging on for dear life..." - For Tomorrow) or Parklife ("London Loves - the misery of a speeding heart" - London Loves) as I first moved to London in 1995 and they were the only band in town (well, not entirely true...). But this year saw Blur reborn with triumphant Wembley Stadium shows and an album that defied expectations. There is one particular moment that takes me back to living for years in west London - I can't say I remember it well, but I certainly went to Portobello Road's "Tesco Disco", as Albarn exclaims in St Charles Square. (André Langlois)

For more on the special releases for National Album Day, visit its website.