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Mark SampsonMark Sampson
Album: London Anthems
Label: Deep River
Tracks: 12

Any album which has songs entitled (pardon my French) 'The Bankers And The Twats', 'Costa Del New Cross' and 'When Football Was Football' which is more up my street, gets the thumbs up. It also gives an indication of the direction the album is going to take. Which is this. Looking at the cover and song titles what's apparent is that Mark Sampson is a no frills observer of everyday life, someone with his own trials and tribulations and the ability to put them into song. A set of irreverent observations, optimistic personal views and all based round his beloved London. In 'I Wouldn't Be Anywhere But This' he confesses that Lily Allen's view that London seems nice but it's all lies is the opposite to his own. His love affair with the capital city is documented both straightforwardly and comically.

From 'The Bright Lights Of London' (something you can imagine The Pogues racing through in double speed) all the way through to 'The London Eye' the album is chock full of the contrasts of modern life and how things were so much better - when we were younger / in the old days / make your own choice. It's a collection of little cameos and snapshots about the changing face of modern life. From the cost of the simple pleasure of watching football, no doubt now charged to the credit card loan which allows and encourages effortless consumerism at the expense of the ultimate cost and all down to how developing the environment for those who can. All highlighting the age old maxim that the grass isn't always greener on the other side and lamenting the rose tinted sepia of past life.

It's all wrapped up with clear unencumbered messages - there's nothing refined or cryptically hidden in the lyrics - take them literally as they are. And don't expect anything refined musically. Mark and his little crew are treading any new ground with gymnastic guitar technique, so the impact comes from the clout of the messages in the songs. Think Beans On Toast but not as sweary or as acerbic. What someone, Bono probably, once called three chords and the truth.

Mike Ainscoe