I wonder how drastically national productivity dipped yesterday thanks to the announcement that Google Street View is now live in the UK. A souped-up, turbo version of Google Maps, it enables users to zoom in on specific streets and generally nose around their own city in what Charlie Brooker might call ‘360-degree crikey-vision’.
Most of the NME office was messing around with it all afternoon. It’s pretty astonishing, so advanced and up-to-the-minute you can actually zoom in over your own shoulder and watch yourself watching yourself watch yourself (etc etc) on Google Street View.
OK, it’s not that advanced, but it’s still impressive. Clearly it’s also another step towards the establishment of a Big Brother/Robocop-style totalitarian police state in which our every move is scanned and catalogued for the benefit of a faceless digi-elite… but we can at least marvel at the technology as our civil liberties disappear down the plughole.
So what can you do with it? Being tragic nerds, we decided to apply it to a number of famous rock’n’roll landmarks. Here, then, are famous album sleeves located thanks to the wonder of Street View. A musical mapping of London, if you will. Feel free to suggest your own.
Oasis – What’s The Story (Morning Glory)
Shot at: Berwick Street, W1.
The figure you can see on the sleeve is Sean Rowley, who went on to ‘Guilty Pleasures’ DJ fame. The record shop in the background, Selectadisc, closed down in 2005, as this picture demonstrates (it was subsumed within Sister Ray).
David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Shot at: Heddon Street, W1.
Shot, for no particular reason, on a side-street off Regent St. K West is longer there, although these days there’s a hotel by that name in Shepherd’s Bush.
Madness – Absolutely
Shot at: Chalk Fark tube, NW3.
For their second album the Nutty Boys wanted to celebrate the area where they grew up. Hence the lo-fi sleeve.
The Kinks – Muswell Hillbillies
Shot at: Archway, N19.
There weren’t many pubs in Muswell Hill back then, so Ray Davies and co nipped down the hill to the Archway Tavern to shoot the sleeve. It still looks the same today.
Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs
Shot at: Wetherby Mansions, SW5
This was where Syd lived with his half-Eskimo girlfriend Iggy in 1968. Mick Rock took the pictures in Syd’s (rather bare) bedroom.
The Beatles – Please Please Me
Shot at: Manchester Square, W1.
The Beatles never liked to go too far out of their way for their photo shoots. For this album they simply hung their heads out of EMI HQ. The building no longer exists.
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The Rolling Stones – Out of Our Heads
Shot at: Mason’s Yard, SW1.
Taken by photographer Gered Mankowitz, directly outside his studio, on the spot where the White Cube art gallery now stands. Interesting fact: John Lennon met Yoko One in another art gallery just a few yards from this spot.