Songs to the Siren

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Public Service Broadcasting

26th March 2012 (single), 6th May 2013 (LP)🇬🇧

Continuing the theme of sample-based tracks, next up is Spitfire, by Public Service Broadcasting. The song would work absolutely fine as an instrumental, but the samples from the 1942 film “The First of the Few” add so much more.

Calling this song “sample-based” is arguably wrong - there is heavy use of samples, but the core is a great instrumental piece, over which samples are based. It’s more like a conventional song with the vocals replaced by snippets from the movie.

Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) started exclusively using instrumental music overlaid with samples from sources such as newsreel and public information films. The third LP Every Valley started using a few more “conventional” songs, with guest vocalists such as James Dean Bradfield and Tracyanne Campbell - though PSB’s J Willgoose Esq contributed half of a duet in one track, also featuring Lisa Jên Brown.

Spitfire is an early track and follows the instrumental+sample format. The samples come from The First Of The Few, a 1942 biographical film about R J Mitchell, the designer of the famous Supermarine Spitfire fighter that played a famous rôle in WW2 - particularly the Battle of Britain, alongside the Hawker Hurricane. Mitchell, sadly, passed away before he got to see the full success of his design.

This song comes from the first PSB LP “Inform - Educate - Entertain”, which featured songs covering a number of subjects. But the next two LPs where more strictly themed. 2015’s The Race for Space covered the space race from Sputnik (1957) to the last Apollo moon mission (1972).

This was followed in 2017 by Every Valley, which documents the decline of the coal mining industry in South Wales. Sample-based songs use Coal Board adverts, or tales of the wives supporting their miner husbands during the Miner Strikes, though this record also includes singing performances from a number of contributors.

I strongly recommend all three LPs.