Great music = great night. Shit music = noise pollution. And it’s always better if you can choose it yourself. Here’s our pick of the best soundtracks in town.1. Crobar
17 Manette St, W1
This cult London drinking hole is all about bourbon, beer and bad-boy rock ‘n’ roll. Its patrons are blackclad, tattooed and intensely loyal. And its magnificent motorbike topped jukebox is stuffed with more than 1,000 hits from the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zep. There’s also a generous happy hour from 4pm to 9pm every day – to make sure your early evening really rocks.
2. Slim Jim’s
112 Upper St, N1
When a bar’s interior design is centred on brash neon signs and ladies’ underwear hanging from the ceiling, you’d assume the soundtrack would feature neanderthal rawk. And you’d be right. The jukebox at this cocktail spot is rockier than the Andes, with tracks from the likes of AC/DC and Nirvana, although more sensitive fare comes from Dylan and Springsteen. It’s great, but be warned: the volume is turned up to 11, and the place smells like grunge sounds.
3. The Three Kings
7 Clerkenwell Close, EC1
The sign outside this Clerkenwell media watering hole claims it’s named after Elvis, Henry VIII and King Kong – suitably eccentric monarchs for a pub with a fibreglass rhino, twinkly fairly lights and a plaster Egyptian dog. The King – whose tunes never get old and fat – rules this great vinyl jukebox (which is £1 for seven songs), though the line-up changes weekly. Current faves include The Supremes and Prince. Thus continuing the pub’s celebration of unusual royals.
4. Mezcaleria Quiquiriqui
184 Hackney Rd, E2
Quiquiriqui is Mexican for ‘cock-adoodle-do’, but mezcal – the tequila-like spirit that this Hackney bar goes big on – is not for the chicken-hearted. At the centre is a gorgeous 1974 Rockola 460 jukebox which plays 7″ vinyl (for free). None of the records have labels, so it might take a few tries before you find Blondie, or that obscure Lionel Richie instrumental. By which time the mezcal will probably have you dancing on the ceiling.
5. Bradley’s Spanish Bar
42-44 Hanway St, W1
This legendary sticky-floored latenight Spanish bar hosts one of London’s finest jukeboxes. The early ’80s NSM real vinyl juke is all treble and top, and the soul-through-punk selection plays to those strengths. Supremely tinny versions of The Velvelettes’ ‘Needle in a Haystack’ and The Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen in Love’ are standout delights, but look out for slopping Cruzcampo when the joint starts jumping.
6. The Telegraph at the Earl of Derby
87 Dennett’s Rd, SE14
For decent ale and mellow sounds, head to this nicely refurbished New Cross boozer. Its free jukebox is a crooners’ paradise, heavy on Elvis, Etta, Dionne and Frank. Enjoy a reasonably priced pint and a break from chart pop and metal.
7. The Boogaloo
312 Archway Rd, N6
Ever wondered what Kate Moss boogies to? The Boogaloo’s the place to find out. Famous friends of the house choose their top ten albums, which are then programmed into the jukebox of a pub that has been described as ‘the sweetest juke-joint in the world’. Kate, her ex Pete Doherty, Iggy Pop, Sinead O’Connor, Ronnie Wood and The Libertines have all put playlists forward – and it’s only a quid to hear three tunes. She knows how to strike a pose, but this is the place to find out if Mossy likes to vogue.
8. Mucky Pup
39 Queen’s Head St, N1
Surrounded on all sides by bars with ping-pong tables, pop-up burrito shacks and all manner of other hipster-snaring devices, this Islington pub stubbornly refuses to follow fashions. The jukebox is completely free to use and about as anti-pop as it gets, featuring the Sex Pistols, Motörhead, Sonic Youth, The Stooges and Jesus Lizard. The perfect Saturday night bolthole for ‘X Factor’ avoiders.
9. The Shakespeare
57 Allen Rd, N16
Who knew the bard kept such a wicked music selection in Stoke Newington? The selection at this relaxed semi-boho boozer is eclectic but not too niche. There are enduring classic tracks from time-honoured acts such as Marvin Gaye and The Beatles and, crucially, loads of old ska and reggae. If music be the food of love, love, love – play on.
10. Secret DJ
At a hip burger joint near you
Who needs vinyl when you can secretly rule the airwaves from your iPhone? Secret DJ is a nifty new app (also available on Android) which lets you pick the music at more than 200 of the city’s bars, pubs and cafes. It uses GPS to show you your nearest participating venues, which include Covent Garden’s Meatmarket. Turn up, check in then choose three tracks from the playlists.