The Charlatans’ Alternative Tube Map Is A Thing Of Glory

This Saturday, June 4, marks 114 years since the birth of Harry Beck, the man who designed the London Underground tube map. The Charlatans have something unique up their sleeve to celebrate the day: a Tune map, which charts more than 150 songs of the band’s discography in the unmistakable graphic design of the Tube map.

The complexity of the thing, which you can see at the bottom of this page, should startle any fan that looks at it. Where the ‘lines’ of albums intersect, they share a song. Dotted lines are bonus tracks; aeroplanes are songs on import albums; a line through a song indicates it’s a hidden track. The zones of the background are actually a picture of the band from the cover of ‘Forever: The Singles’.

It’s a mad work of art, and only 500 physical copies have been made. On June 4, Beck’s birthday, fans will be able to find them dotted about some of Tim Burgess’ favourite haunts in London, after he spends the day spreading wallets containing the map around. The only way fans can guarantee they’ll get a copy is by being one of the first 100 people through the doors at Burgess’ DJ set on Saturday night, at The Amersham Arms.

See the map in all its glory below, along with an interview with its creator, Marcus Hislop – and click here to see a high-resolution version of the map:

What was the most challenging thing about adapting Harry Beck’s Tube map?
Marcus Hislop: “Making sure I didn’t miss anything out. I didn’t want to be the one everyone pointed at if there were any omissions or errors. We went over it again and again. [O Genesis Recordings’] Nick [Fraser], and Tim [Burgess] were always adding things after I thought I’d finished. But it was worth it. The more info we put on it, the cooler it became.”

How much did you have to bend the rules of the map?
MH: “I did everything I could to ensure that every track was in order. The map, albeit totally fictional, had to have order. Otherwise it would have been a proper mess. A few tracks on the first compilation album had to be in the wrong order or I would have to have made some wacky zigzag lines.

Every time another detail was added, I had to move every other ‘station’ to make sure it still worked.”

What should Charlatans fans be on the lookout for?
MH: “Charlatans fans will hopefully enjoy the attention to detail. Hidden tracks and imports are all there. I just hope that the map is dense enough to keep fans pleased. I am sure I will find out what I might have missed once the fans get to look it over.

“They should check out what looks like The River Thames – it’s a graph of the highest chart positions of each of the studio albums. There’s some hidden stuff too that they might take some time to see.”