Great forgotten track- David Essex ‘Street Fight’

When David Essex arrived on the scene with ‘Rock On’ he seemed like a major new talent. The single’s spooky, stripped down dynamic and great sparse, tense vocal saw him looked on as the latest pretender for Bowie’s freak pop crown (well at my school we though that anyway).

‘Rock On’ was a major- a totally genius single and, sadly, a wrong signpost on a road that led to a highly successful career that is of not much interest to us here.

David Essex’s debut album came out in 1973 and instead of being full of this strange, tense new sound was stuffed full of okey dokey ballads. There was a couple of exceptions- his follow up single, ‘Lamplight’ and ‘Streetfight’…

‘Street Fight’ is equal in brilliance to ‘Rock On’ and, weirdly. was also one of the few tracks that David Essex himself wrote. No-one can blame him for taking the easy way out in a hugely successful career but we are left with the intriguing thought that left to his own devices David Essex was a pop genius with a thrillingly creative mind that was the equal of Bowie. The early glimpses of his song writing talent point to a singular direction of his own with ‘Street Fight’ coming on like the sort of Berlin period Bowie working with Iggy Pop a good three years later. It has that same kind of darkness, that same kind of weird angled pop, that sort of blues bent out of shape and that same kind of sparse dynamic that made Iggy’s ‘The Idiot’ one of the great stand out rock records.

Of course everyone knows this, but few remember David Essex as anything other than the jovial family entertainer and those early, tantalising snatches of brilliance are all we have left…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. […] started as an engineer in the early 1970s as an engineer working on records by T. Rex, David Essex, Fleetwood Mac, Yes and Shirley Bassey amongst others. After he punk he produced the Human […]

  2. Thanks for writing this John and for sharing and reminding us of a great song and the early talents of David Essex.


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