14 tracks from the Listening to Brent playlist.
Listening to Brent is a Spotify playlist, featuring musicians and bands with a connection to Brent and music released by labels who are or were located here. There are currently well over 100 tracks on the list, many identified through Kwaku's research into Brent's Black Music History as well as Dick Weindling and Marianne Collom's posts for West Hampstead Life about Kilburn's musical heritage.
Last summer we explained why 14 of them made the list. Here’s an explanation of a few more, with some YouTube links if you prefer your music with pictures.
Jack The Ripper - Screaming Lord Sutch (1964) - [watch]
Musician, performer and founder of The Monster Raving Loony Party, Screaming Lord Sutch went to school in Queens Park and lived in South Harrow. He unsuccessfully contested seats in 40 elections. It’s hard to verify, but his Wikipedia page contains an often repeated claim that when, in 1993, the BNP celebrated the election of their first councillor, Sutch pointed out that the Monster Raving Loony Party already had six.
McAlpine’s Fusiliers - The Dubliners (1966) - [watch]
This is an satirical ballad about the life of Irish labourers in England. It wasn't made in Brent as such, but it refers to it. ‘Oh, the craic was good in Cricklewood and they wouldn't leave The Crown, With glasses flying and biddies crying 'cause Paddy was going to town, Oh mother dear, I'm over here and I'm never coming back, What keeps me here is the reek o' beer, the ladies and the craic’.
The Whale - John Tavener (1966) - [watch]
Sir John Tavener was born in Wembley in 1944 and is one of the 20th century’s most celebrated English composers. Although deeply religious and from a more middle class background than Twiggy, Keith Moon and Charlie Watts, Sir John - with multiple lovers, long hair, luxury cars - was still very much a figure of 60s excess. He was acquainted with The Beatles and it was their label Apple who released his first albums.
Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream (1967) - [watch]
Together with Charlie Watts and Keith Moon, Ginger Baker is the third great rock drummer with roots in Brent. Baker was born in south London, but lived lived in Kilburn and later in Neasden at the time of Cream’s formation in 1966. Cream split in 1968, but recorded enough material in those two years to sell 35 million records. Like Moon, Ginger Baker was an explosive figure - his life was the subject of the documentary Beware of Mr Baker (2012). He died in November 2019.
21st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson (1969) - [watch]
King Crimson are a prog rock band, formed in Kilburn the late 1960s. Last year Pitchfork considered their 50th Anniversary re-release of their debut album ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ to be the best re-release of 2019.
Virginia Plain - Roxy Music (1972) - [watch]
A young Brian Eno was living with various other members of Roxy Music on Brondesbury Villas when they recorded this. But in truth the street is more famous for musicians who have already made it: Seal, Roisin Murphy (Moloko) and The Verve either do, or did, live there.
The Celtic Soul Brothers - Dexys Midnight Runners (1983) - [watch]
Kevin Rowland, lead singer of Dexys Midnight Runners lived at several addresses in the Kilburn area. This promo video for the lesser known track ‘Celtic Soul Brothers’ is shot around The Castle in Cricklewood.
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (at Live Aid) - George Michael / Elton John (1985) - [watch]
Elton John grew up in Pinner (just to the north of Brent) and George Michael grew up a few miles away in Kingsbury. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me would become a hit for both of them in 1991. The first time they performed it together was at Live Aid 1985 - the most iconic concert to be staged at Wembley Stadium. Live Aid, which saught to raise money to alleviate famine in Ethiopia, had a combined television audience of over a billion people. Both Elton John and George Michael were discovering their sexuality at a time when prejudice against gay people was widespread. Both lived lives blighted by depression and addiction. George Michael died on Christmas Day 2016, aged 53.
Layin’ Down The Beat - Faze One (1986) [watch]
Faze One were from Harlesden and and one of the UK’s first hiphop acts.
Enjoy The Silence - Depeche Mode (1990) - [watch]
Depeche Mode are from Basildon not Brent. But we’re including this as a nod to the thousands of records that have been recorded in the borough. This is one of 500+ releases that were completely or partially recorded (mostly in the 90s) at the now-closed Master Rock Studios which was located at 248 Kilburn High Road. Willesden is also home to the Battery Complex which has been churning out hit records decades - Foals recorded their last album there. Incidentally, the two most over-hyped albums of the 1990s, Oasis' Be Here Now and The Stone Roses' Second Coming were recorded at Master Rock and Battery respectively.
Smells Like Teen Spirit (Live on The Word 1991) - Nirvana [watch]
Of course, like Depeche Mode, Nirvana weren’t from Brent. But like thousands of other acts before and after them Brent was a place you needed to come to perform, play and broadcast music to a global audience. This recording is of them playing on a late-night TV show called The Word which platformed youth culture on Channel 4 and was filmed in Wembley. Around the same time Nirvana played a heavily bootlegged show at the Kilburn National.
Terminator - Rufige Kru (1992) - [watch]
In the 1990s graffiti artist and producer Goldie pioneered hardcore and drum and bass music. His first experiments making music were supported by 4Hero and Reinforced Records. Terminator was one one of them.
You Might Need Somebody - Shola Ama (1997) - [watch]
Shola Ama grew up in Harlesden and signed her first record deal when she was 16. Two years later in 1998 she won the gong for Best British Female at the Brit Awards.
Overload - Sugababes (2000) - [watch]
The Sugababes went to Kingsbury High. After losing one of the founder members - they would go on to be one of the most successful pop acts of the 00s.
Bando Ballads - M Huncho (2020) - [watch]
Nobody quite knows who M Huncho is or where he lives, but it’s thought to be Kilburn. He calls his music 'trapwave'. This is teaser for his mixtape, Huncholini the 1st, due end of the month.