Peaky Blinders Series & Soundtrack Review - Part I of IV (Season 1)

Updated: Feb 2, 2019

(2013 - Ongoing)

Rating: 5/5

By Helena ‘Raven’ Geo

Let’s be honest. We all at some point phantasized what it would be like to live an outlaw life, especially after watching movies like the Godfather trilogy or Goodfellas. Since the end of the successful TV series The Sopranos, the lead (by far) has been taken over by the series Peaky Blinders, which literally has you sitting on the edge of your seats, and we are begging for that 5th season to be finally released so we can get our hit.

And kind of like that we are transferred to the foggy scenery of 1919 Birmingham, after the end of World War I, where the series follows the life of the gangster Shelby family, with Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), as leader of the family, his brothers Arthur (Paul Anderson), John (Joe Cole), Finn (Michael Gray) and the ‘tough as nails’ aunt Polly (Helen McCrory).

Creator of the hit series is Steven Knight, who got inspired for the Shelby family by his own ancestors, the Sheldons, following stories that his father shared with him about their back then relations with the real Peaky Blinders of Birmingham. And even if the character of Tommy Shelby is fictional, the gangster characters of Billy Kimber and Darby Sabini were based on reality.

With the amazing (outlaw sound) remastered version track Red Right Hand by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds as the theme song, the first season wraps around the beginning of the Shelby ‘empire’, who through illegal gambling and any other outlaw shenanigans they came upon with, with blades hidden in their flat caps, and a mixture of Irish and Romany-gypsy blood floating in their veins, they spread terror wherever they set foot at.

The first season will particularly please the fans of Nick Cave, as well as The White Stripes, since a lot of their tracks are hosted throughout the episodes. Special reference given to the ones by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (the remastered version) Brother, My Cup Is Empty, Abattoir Blues, God Is In The House, Bring It On, and by The White Stripes the When I Hear My Name, the blues/hard rock track Ball And Biscuit (the alternative rock single of 2003 from their album Elephant), Hardest Button To Button and the Little Cream Soda, with its intense guitar tremors. Also by The White Stripes the track I Think I Smell A Rat, with its powerful guitar presence, and I Fought Piranhas, both in 60s'/70s' rhythms.

Jazz and Blues lovers will get the chance to listen to the sounds of the remarkable tracks Cataract Rag (by Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen), and St. James Infirmary Blues, recorded in 1928 by Louis Armstrong, known also as Gambler’s Blues, as well as the all time classic Five Foot Two (Has anyone seen my girl?) (by Firehouse Five Plus Two) which was composed in 1925 by Leo Feist. Keeping up with this genre, the Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis (Tom Waits) and People Ain’t No Good (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds).

An outlaw series and soundtrack would not be complete without alternative/indie listenings, such as Time (Tom Waits), Blue Veins (The Raconteurs), Broken Boy Soldier (The Raconteurs), and the rock track The Prowl (Dan Auerbach).

Irish folk music also has its honorary presence, with songs like Black Velvet Band and Carrickfergus (performed by the soprano Taylor Caruso Kirk).

Worthy of mentioning is also the Irish folk song I Am Stretched On Your Grave (with initial title Táim sínte ar do thuama), performed by Kate Rusby, the roots of which derive from an unknown origin Irish 17th century poem, which was given its modern melody in 1979 by musician Philip King. Also the melodic All Guns No Balls (Mearl), and Love is Blindness (Jack White), which belongs to band U2, composed by Bono on piano in 1988, and after considering giving it to Nina Simone to perform, they decided to record it on their own as part of their 1991 album Achtung Baby. Also, the melodic Martha’s Dream, by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, with voyaging sounds that take you back to Pink Floyds’ experimental music.

Fun Facts:

- The memorable David Bowie was such a big fan of the series, that Cillian Murphy sent him as a gift a flat cap from the Peaky Blinders set. During the course of the 3rd season, on a specific scene (which I will not reveal at the moment so as not to spoil the series to the unfortunate ones that haven’t watched it yet), a specific hospital bed was made to look like the one in David Bowies’ Lazarus music video (as a tribute after the passing of the gifted artist).

- Helen McCrory (aunt Polly) spent hours and hours watching videos of Ozzy Osbourne so as to perfect her Birmingham accent.

- The original Peaky Blinders did not in reality carry blades in their flat caps, since they were invented long after. It is being said that they used the iron parts of their belts as well as the metallic pieces on the front of their shoes to strike their enemies.

For the 2nd Season review go to peaky-blinders-series-soundtrack-review-part-ii-of-iv-season-2-en

For the 3rd Season review go to peaky-blinders-series-soundtrack-review-part-iii-of-iv-season-3-en

For the 4th Season review go to peaky-blinders-series-soundtrack-review-part-iv-of-iv-season-4-en

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