As we recognise the 130th anniversary of Jack the Ripper, ANN MASSEY O’REGAN looks at her top 7 songs about the Whitechapel serial killer

Screaming Lord Sutch – Jack the Ripper

Sutch covered this 1961 Clarence Stacy tune in March of 1963, released on Decca. Upon its release it was promptly banned by the BBC. Beginning with footsteps and the screams of a terrified woman, it evolves into quite a catchy Monster Mash-esque number despite its dark content!

…When she walks down the streets, he’s never far behind
(The Ripper, Jack the Ripper)
With his little black bag and his one-track mind
(The Ripper, Jack the Ripper)
Well, he really catches up when the lights go down
(The Ripper, Jack the Ripper)
‘Cause that’s the time he starts his dirty chop-around…”

Read more about Screaming Lord Sutch and Jack the Ripper here.

Judas Priest – The Ripper

Released in early 1976, this account of the Ripper story is told from the murderer’s perspective. The original song written by Glenn Tipton is substantially longer than even the album version on ‘Sad Wings of Destiny.’ If you are lucky enough to stumble across an early bootleg you may get to hear it!

“…I smile when I’m sneaking
Through shadows by the wall
I laugh when I’m creeping
But you won’t hear me at all
All hear my warning
Never turn your back
On the ripper…”

Read more about Judas Priest and Jack the Ripper here.

Motorhead – Jack the Ripper

From the 1992 album March or Die, Jack the Ripper is a warning that no matter how hard you try and hide, if he wants you the Ripper will have you. Don’t try and understand him, just give in.

…See into the mind
See into the brain
Try to find the reasons that Jacky’s out again
Slipping and sliding don’t even try to hide
Just like your shadow, breathing at your side
Don’t give into panic,
Don’t you run an’ scream
Aaah, the ripper, haunting all your dreams…”

Link Wray and the Wraymen – Jack the Ripper

Link Wray was from the rock ‘n’ roll era, but was a pioneer of the power chord, influencing iconic punk and rock musicians alike and listed as one of the top 50 guitarists of all time. His instrumental number seems upbeat, but it has strong undertones of intensity and the thrill of the chase.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Jack the Ripper

From the album ‘Henry’s Dream’, in true Nick Cave style there is a twist to the iconic tale. Was Jack the Ripper a woman hater based on his own experiences? I guess we will never know!

I got a woman
She rules my house with an iron fist
I got a woman
She rules my house with an iron fist
She screams out Jack the Ripper
Every time I try to give that girl a kiss…”

Morrissey – Jack the Ripper

This A-Typical haunting Morrissey melody has Jack the Ripper in the first person preying on the vulnerable and jaded, lost in the night. Or is he an angel of mercy from a life of torment as well as an angel of death?

…And I know a place
Where no one is likely to pass
Oh, you don’t care if it’s late
And you don’t care if you’re lost
And oh, you look so tired
(But tonight you presume too much)
Too much, too much
And if it’s the last
Thing I ever do
I’m gonna get you…”

The Town Pants – Jack the Ripper (A Song for Dark Annie)

This Canadian Celtic trad and folk-rock band pay their own homage to the Ripper’s second victim, Annie Chapman, or Dark Annie as she was known. The winter’s night is poetic licence of course as Annie was murdered in September!

Oh Dark Annie what made you turn
on Hanbury street that eve
Were you cold, was business slow
Had your men all taken leave
Did you hear the footsteps behind you
Or see the shining knife
Did you know that the hand at your back
would be the one to take your life?
So I drink to your life and to your death
And I hope you put up a fight
And Annie Chapman I raise my glass
to you on this winter’s night.”

Ann Massey O’Regan
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