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Great British Songs About Coppers, For ‘Copper’

From our partners at Anglophenia: This Sunday (August 19, at 10/9c) sees the premiere of BBC America’s hottest new show, the police drama Copper. So, to warm you up for a little bit of 1800s criminal action, here are songs from the other side of the Atlantic, and the wrong side of the law:

“Police and Thieves” by the Clash

1977 was a tense time in Britain, and even more so in Jamaica, where civil unrest and poor community policing lead to a state of permanent civil unrest between residents, gang members and law enforcement officers. Reggae music was the bush telegraph of the times, and so a song like “Police and Thieves,” decrying this low-rent arms race and taking a stand for everyone caught in the middle, was of immense value. Meanwhile, in London, the black communities felt harassed by new laws that allowed the police to stop and search anyone who appeared to be acting suspiciously. Having already witness the Notting Hill riot of 1976 as a result of this, it was only natural for the Clash to cover Junior Murvin, and make the same point again. If both sides are raising the stakes, who’s going to protect the people in no-man’s land?

“Watching The Detectives” by Elvis Costello

Not so much a song about the police as a song about someone watching someone watching a TV show about the police, and getting vicarious kicks from fake crimes, when they could be getting real kicks from more worthwhile things, like making out. But the tension and revulsion goes so far beyond sexual disappointment it becomes its own crime drama: “She’s filing her nails while they’re dragging the lake” is not the kind of internal monologue you’d get from most frustrated Casanovas.

Read more at Anglophenia: Five Great British Songs About Coppers, For Copper

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