Music Sounds like London by Lloyd Bradley | Book Review Roundup | The Omnivore

Published on August 27th, 2013


Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital by Lloyd Bradley

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Blurb: For as long as people have been migrating to London, so has their music. An essential link to home, music also has the power to shape communities in surprising ways.Black music has been part of London’s landscape since the First World War, when the Southern Syncopated Orchestra brought jazz to the capital. Following the wave of Commonwealth immigration, its sounds and styles took up residence to become the foundation of the city’s youth culture.

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Sounds Like London tells the story of the music and the larger-than-life characters making it, journeying from Soho jazz clubs to Brixton blues parties to King’s Cross warehouse raves to the streets of Notting Hill – and onto sound systems everywhere. As well as a journey through the musical history of London, Sounds Like London is about the shaping of a city, and in turn the whole nation, through music.Contributors include Eddy Grant, Osibisa, Russell Henderson, Dizzee Rascal and Trevor Nelson, with an introduction by Soul2Soul’s Jazzie B.

(Serpent’s Tail, 2013)

Bim Adewunmi, New Statesman 

“I found particular joy in the chapters covering the 1980s onwards … The research and the interviews, as well as the author’s comprehensive but lightly worn knowledge, elevate this book from being just a list of notable anniversaries and dry facts. Because of Bradley’s background as a serious music journalist (for NME, Q and Mojo), he is well equipped for this kind of intensive curation and he never neglects the art of crafting a lovely sentence.”

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Courttia Newland, Financial Times 

Sounds Like London is an honest and passionate celebration of not just the music, but the courage, tenacity and guile of the people who made it. There are notable omissions (for instance, R’n’B band Loose Ends, the pirate station London Weekend Radio, and Reinforced Records’ creative monopolisation of the early hardcore scene) but this in no way detracts.”

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Sukhdev Sandhu, The Guardian 

“This is an invaluably materialist book that is often at its most enlightening when it recounts the dramas of distribution – label bosses circulating their records via an alternative network of barbers, grocers, hairdressers and travel agents, for example … In spite of its subtitle, Sounds Like London has little to say about the early 20th century … But Sounds Like London is a major achievement nonetheless. It pays overdue homage to styles such as Afro-Rock and Brit-funk too often given short shrift by most rock and dance history books. Breezily written but always politically astute and critically sharp, it makes telling use of new interviews with important figures such as jazzman Russell Henderson and Eddy Grant.”

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Rob Fitzpatrick, The Sunday Times 

“Hugely entertaining … What Bradley’s book does so admirably is to illustrate how the postwar city came alive with this influx of black music.”

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