Murder Ballads
Secret London

Paul Slade Hello. My name's Paul Slade, and I've been a journalist here in London since 1982. During that time, I've written for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times, The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Times, Mojo, Fortean Times, The Idler, Time Out and a host of other publications. In 2005, I started making occasional documentaries for BBC Radio 4, covering subjects like a forgotten radio hoax of 1926 and the craze for "dirty blues" lyrics in pre-war America.

I've developed a taste for writing long essays, a form very few magazines will consider buying

Like any hack who's been working for that length of time, I've accumulated a fair number of pet projects over the years. These are subjects which I've become passionately interested in myself but which, for one reason or another, I've never managed to sell as a commercial proposition. It doesn't help matters that I've recently developed a taste for writing longer essays - running anywhere up to 15,000 words in length - which is a form very few modern magazines are prepared to consider.
Hence this website. Here you'll find my guide to some of the world's most fascinating Murder Ballads, a series of Secret London's forgotten mysteries and, in the section I've cunningly titled Miscellany, anything else I damn well feel like including. My aim is to combine the old-fashioned virtues of traditional journalism - proper research, clear writing and a habit of checking my facts - with the global distribution and ease of access which only the internet can provide. I hope you find something here to take your interest.

- Paul Slade, London, April 2009


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Added in Nov 2015: Letters from Nasra’s friends

Five years ago, I posted a PlanetSlade essay about Nasra Ismail, a murdered sex worker whose remains were found near my North London home in 2004. The piece described my attempt to write a modern murder ballad marking her death.
      In September 2015, I received letters from two people who’d known Nasra, each sharing their memories of her. The picture which emerges is one of a sweet, rather shy girl trying to survive in the most desperate of circumstances.
      Elsewhere among the site’s new additions, we have some tasty teaser copy for my coming book.
      Which Dylan album helped to form Billy Bragg? What happened when Shane MacGowan tried to record a John Lee Hooker song with Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds? Which Jon Langford compilation album flooded Bloodshot Records with death threats? Find out in the interview extracts here.
      I’ve also added my fRoots review of the Aussie troudadour Fred Smith’s latest CD. I still maintain he’s one of the most under-appreciated songwriters out there, so please read my review then have a listen on his website. You won’t regret it.
      Finally, we have two new Gallows Ballads Project tracks from the excellent meh229, who tackle 1618’s The Unnatural Murder and The Liverpool Lodger from 1849. That’s 27 bespoke recordings we’ve got there now, and who’d have thought we’d get that far when the whole project started?