Brian J., motivated by the sound of Eddy Grant, rocks down to Electric Avenue, and gets engrossed by the history thereof:
The song itself refers to the 1981 Brixton Riots, a “confrontation” between residents of Brixton and the police. The Wikipedia entry gives you a full panoply of excuses for the riot, but it’s the usual economically depressed populace of a one race reacts violently to the death of one of their own that they blame on members of the police who are of a different race.
Me, I always wondered if Grant’s 1982 record, a #2 hit in both the US and the UK, had anything to do with Montgomery Ward’s reboot of its appliance and electronics department as “Electric Avenue” three years later, which provided a decade-long boost to the store’s revenues, though the chain didn’t have long to live after that, and died unceremoniously in 2000. (The wards.com Web storefront, now in its second incarnation, dates to 2004.)
Eddy Grant, of course, had been around for a while; his group The Equals crept into the Top 40 in 1968 with a song called “Baby Come Back.”
In 1984 he turned out a theme song for Robert Zemeckis’ film Romancing the Stone, which wasn’t used, except for a teensy bit of the instrumental break halfway through.
Aside: For some reason we have a shopping center in this town called Brixton Square. I hasten to add that it has never had a Montgomery Ward store.