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Episode 153 : Lloyd Bradley on Black London + Tina Turner + Steve Barrow audio

5 June 2023

In this episode we welcome Lloyd Bradley into our Hammersmith lair and ask him about his career as a journalist and as the acclaimed author of Bass Culture and Sounds Like London — the latter book celebrating its 10th birthday at the time of recording.

We learn what London sounded like to Lloyd as a boy growing up in '60s Hornsey, and how his love for music led to writing for Blues & Soul and then NME and Q. He talks us through some of the key themes of Sounds Like London — his history of "100 years of Black music in the capital" — and particularly the homegrown reggae sub-genre known as "lover's rock" and the rise of grime as a hybrid of UK garage, hip hop, jungle and dancehall.

Discussion of lover's rock leads us to clips from a 1998 audio interview with Steve Barrow, founder of dub/roots-reggae reissue label Blood and Fire — and then (with passing swipes at "the White-Man Reggae Club") to how Lloyd came to write 2000's mighty Bass Culture: When Reggae was King.

After a short discussion of soul legend Bettye LaVette — and her journey from early '60s Atlantic Records to the Anti- label in the mid-noughties — we pay tribute to the late Tina Turner and her epic story of survival and self-reinvention.

Mark quotes from highlights of his additions to the RBP library, including Richard Harrington's Washington Post review of the last gig Lowell George ever played and Tony Scherman's exhaustive Musician interview with session drummer Earl Palmer. Finally, Jasper talks us out with his remarks on pieces about Labrinth and London's hyper-eclectic jazz scene.

Many thanks to special guest Lloyd Bradley. For more on Bass Culture and Sounds Like London, visit his website at