Listening to Brent

8 July 2019

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 about 70 tracks on the list. Here’s an explanation of why 14 of them made it.

My Boy Lollipop - Millie Small (1964) - watch
Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, relocated his label from Kingston, Jamaica, to 108 Cambridge Road, Kilburn in 1962. Island released My Boy Lollipop in 1964 (licensed to Fontana), it became the first internationally successful ska tune scoring top five hits in numerous countries. The song was produced by Blackwell, who had brought the 17 year-old Millie Small to London to record the song. The Life in Kilburn blog report hearing Small singing the song at Sunday morning sessions at the Gaumont State Theatre in 1963.

Around and Around - The Rolling Stones (1964) - watch
Charlie Watts grew up in Kingsbury and went to Kingsbury High. He joined The Rolling Stones in 1963 and has been their drummer ever since. Here he is on The Stones’ version of Chuck Berry’s Around and Around.

My Generation - The Who (1965) - watch
Keith Moon, The Who’s original drummer, went to Alperton Community College and grew up in the Wembley area. He drummed as he lived: brilliantly and chaotically. The remaining members of The Who have an on-off project to make a biopic about his life.

Return of the Django - The Upsetters (1969) - watch
Trojan Records celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2018. During their heyday in the 1960s and 70s they were based in Music House on Neasden Lane. Widely credited with bringing ska, rocksteady and reggae to the UK. In 1970 alone, Trojan released over 500 records. The music connected the Windrush generation and provided a soundtrack to numerous new subcultures across the UK.

Concrete Jungle - The Wailers (1973) - watch
In between touring, Bob Marley briefly lived in Neasden in 1972. Later that year he went back to Kingston with The Wailers to record their album Catch A Fire. Concrete Jungle is the first track on that album.

When You’re Young - The Jam (1979) - watch
At the crossroads of the 70s and 80s, Brent popped up in several different music videos. The inside of the Gaumont State makes an appearance at the end of Ultravox’s Vienna and Madness’ video for Our House is so Brent it even includes a shot of a Trobridge House in Kingsbury. When You’re Young features a young Paul Weller in the bandstand of Queen's Park and has footage of kids playing on the Kilburn High Road.

Silly Games - Janet Kay (1979) - watch
Dubbed ‘The Queen of Lover's Rock’, Janet Kay grew up in Willesden and recorded Silly Games when she was just 21. Like jungle and grime, lover's rock was a London reggae hybrid that blended 60s pop ballads with reggae rhythms, predominantly sung by female vocalists.

Bigmouth Strikes Again (Live - Rank) - The Smiths (1988) - watch
The Smiths live album Rank was recorded at the Kilburn National in 1986 and released two years later. Other notable live albums recorded in the borough include Deep Purple’s Live in London (recorded in 1974), Harlesden’s Burning by The Clash and The Who’s Live in Kilburn (both recorded in 1977).

Mr Kirk’s Nightmare - 4 Hero (1989) - watch
This was the first release by Dollis Hill-based label Reinforced Records, who would go on to make pioneering contributions to hardcore, drum & bass and jungle, and provide a platform for Goldie’s early releases.

Let Me Be Your Fantasy - Baby D (1992) - watch
Baby D formed in North West London in the late 1980s. First released in 1992, Let Me Be Your Fantasy would later be a number 1 single in 1994. Lead singer Dorothy Fearon still lives in the borough.

Incredible - M Beat ft General Levy (1994) - watch
Although this was the most commercially-successful jungle tune ever, at the time it led to General Levy being blacklisted by Jungle DJs for comments reported in The Face magazine.

Rather Be - Clean Bandit ft Jess Glynne (2013) - watch
Luke Patterson of Clean Bandit went to the Institute for Contemporary Musical Performance on Kilburn High Road. Rather Be was recorded in South Kilburn Studios.

Freedom - Beyoncé ft Kendrick Lamar (2016) - watch
Songwriter Carla-Marie Williams, from Harlesden, has a songwriting credit on this seminal track from Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

Why Her, Not Me? - Grace Carter (2019) - watch
Grace Carter is a hotly-tipped singer-songwriter now living in Kensal Green again after spending her teenage years in Brighton. She opened for Janelle Monae at The SSE Arena in July 2019.