Illustration from Randolph Caldecott's Hey Diddle Diddle and Baby Bunting, 1882
I've known the term "smokeless zone" for years from the XTC song of that name, but I didn't know that such zones actually existed. Under the UK's Clean Air Act 1956, some heavy-pollution urban areas were designated as smokeless zones - certain kinds of chimneys and industrial activities were not allowed in these areas to help reduce the smog. However, the term "smokeless zone" was mostly used as a shorthand descriptor for these terribly polluted inner-city neighborhoods. In 1970, Danny McCulloch, a former member of the Animals, released a psych-rock single "Colour of the Sunset" and it had a b-side called "Smokeless Zone". The song is built around a jumpy acoustic guitar riff and McCulloch singing the title phrase in a faux-blues growl. The song is fun if overly repetitive, but it doesn't wear out its welcome as it's just barely two minutes long - it even manages to squeeze in a couple brief guitar solos and one long "yeaaargh!" yell from McCulloch.
A decade later, XTC released a 7" with an A-side called "Smokeless Zone" - it wasn't a real single, though. It was the bonus 7" that came with the "Generals and Majors" single (one of my favorite Moulding compositions). "Smokeless Zone" is also a Moulding song, and, like the McCulloch song, it focuses on the grime and desolation of smokeless zones, going so far as to suggest that living in one can kill you. Built atop a bed of clattering, swirling percussion and chugging harmonica, XTC's "Smokeless Zone" is more psychedelic than McCulloch's psych-rock-era tune, and, frankly, it's more fun to listen to. It's interesting, though, that both songs are kind of environmental anthems, so I have to give McCulloch some credit for being ahead of the curve on that.
"Smokeless Zone" by Danny McCulloch
"Smokeless Zone" by XTC