A playlist for the Big Apple

Destination New York
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The Independent Culture

'Across 110th street', Bobby Womack

The title song to the 1972 blaxploitation movie set in Harlem – of which 110th Street is the informal boundary line. It later featured in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) and Ridley Scott's American Gangster (2007).

Where from: Across 110th Street soundtrack, (United Artists)

'Ain't no greens in Harlem', The Vibrations

Originally released as a single on the Mandala label in 1972, this soul-funk gem tells the tragi-comic tale of a food shortage in the northern Manhattan ghetto because "the vegetable man's on strike...". The Vibrations began life in the Fifties as The Jayhawks, recording such doo-wop novelty songs as "Stranded in the Jungle".

Where from: Taking A New Step (K-tel / INgrooves).

'Native New Yorker', Odyssey

A glitterball paean to the sassy divas of the Big Apple, with the lines: "You grew up ridin' the subways/Running with people up in Harlem, down on Broadway/You're no tramp, but you're no lady, talkin' that street talk/You're the heart and soul of New York City." A 1977 disco classic by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell that reached No 5 in the UK and No 21 in the US.

Where from: Native New Yorker (RCA)

'Down in the village', Tubby Hayes

Recorded live at Ronnie Scott's in London in 1962, this track was written by the British tenor sax and vibes player, Edward "Tubby" Hayes (right) following a stay in New York's Greenwich Village in 1961. He had become the first visiting English jazz soloist to play a residency at a New York club, the Half Note (now closed: in its place stands a deli at the corner of Hudson & Spring Streets) attracting audiences that included Miles Davis.

Where from: Impressed with Gilles Peterson (Universal Jazz)

'We live in Brooklyn, Baby', Roy Ayers Ubiquity

A masterful mix of funk, soul, disco, and jazz from 1971, repeating the bleak mantra: "We live in Brooklyn baby/We're gonna make it baby". One for the Bs and Ts (the bridge and tunnel crowd, as the commuters to Manhattan are known). Playing keys on the track is the jazz pianist Harry Whitaker, who remains a regular on the New York jazz circuit, in particular at Smalls nightclub (smallsjazzclub.com) on 183 West 10th at 7th avenue, and Arturo's Restaurant at 106 West Houston Street (www.arturosgreenwichvillage.com).

Where from: He's Coming (Polydor)

'Talkin' New York', Bob Dylan

The second song on Bob Dylan's eponymous first album (1962) documents Dylan's first impressions of the Big Apple ("People going down to the ground/Buildings going up to the sky") and how he played harmonica for "a dollar a day" in the coffee shops of Greenwich Village. Dylan (left) goes on to describe being signed up for a record deal, and his ultimate disillusionment with the city. "A lot of people don't have much food on their table," he muses. "But they got a lot of forks n' knives, and they gotta cut something".

Where from: Bob Dylan (Columbia Records)

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