3 Essential Sounds from The Thames Delta

by D I Hughes


Music October 30, 2017

As the clash for Catalonian Independence ensues, another battle is taking form on the British Isles.

Canvey Island in Essex is currently fighting for independence from the mainland’s Castle Point Borough Council. It wants to do its own thing and decide the fate of its own future.

Now at this point, I don’t know much more than that; I’m not a political correspondent, after all. But this recent development has made me think about this little piece of land on the Thames Estuary and its musical heritage.

Home of the mighty Dr Feelgood, Canvey was once known as the Thames Delta, spawning some of the UK’s best blues-influenced music (hence the delta-based nickname).

Talking to a journalist about his beloved Canvey Island in the mid-80s, Dr Feelgood’s Lee Brilleaux said:

“Back when we were starting out, Canvey had an element of toughness, like most working-class places. But there was a warmth about it as well.”

This was once a place where East End villains would bury dead bodies, but in the 70s it also became the unlikely hub of an R&B based musical movement with a heavy punk edge.

So, to celebrate the music offerings of Canvey Island and the good old Thames Delta, here are a few tunes you should get your lugs around – enjoy.

Eddie and The Hotrods – Do Anything You Wanna Do

Eddie & The Hot Rods may not scream ‘I’m inspired by the Mississippi Delta’, but they are from Canvey and they sure packed a punch. If you’re speeding down towards the Essex coast – windows down – this is a tune that will rattle and roll through your head for miles and miles.

Canvey Island All Stars – You’re Gonna Miss Me

Although these boys weren’t around at the same time as the likes of the original Dr Feelgood, they are certainly influenced by them. The band’s definitive 1991 album, ‘Escape From Oil City’, which consists mainly of balls out covers, is lathered in a classic Canvey Island seasoning of bluesy licks fuelled by a heavy hitting rhythm section. This cover of the 13th Floor Elevator’s ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ is an excellent example of how this band took a tune, shook it on its head and made it their own.

Dr Feelgood – Roxette

I could have gone all obscure and picked some rare B-side with the Essex estuary whistling in the background but then I thought bollocks to that – let’s have a classic. And here it is, and it’s brilliant, and you should listen to it more than once. Then, if you want to understand the full extent of Canvey Island’s finest ever band, you should get your ears around Malpractice.

Will Canvey Island get its independence? That remains to be seen. Either way, it’s been responsible for some incredible music offerings over the years – and that will never change. Rock on.


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