No Bass Like Home

The story of how Harlesden, reggae and Trojan Records changed Britain forever

During the 1970s reggae exploded in Brent. The decade began with Wembley Stadium playing host to the first Reggae Festival (with a line-up featuring The Pyramids, Pioneers, The Maytals and Desmond Dekker) and ended with the formation of Britain’s first black-owned pirate radio station. In between, Bob Marley lived in a semi-detached house in Metroland, Trojan sold millions of records to teenagers across the country and Janet Kay became the first British-born black female artist to top the UK charts with a reggae song. All of this took place within a few miles of Harlesden’s Craven Park Road where, each weekend, people from across London would flock to find, make and record reggae music. In the music and its making, they found something that felt like home.

Many of the record shops, studios and venues have gone, but their legacy is alive in the roll call of producers, rappers and DJs who have come up in the area since. No Bass Like Home will research, gather and present local stories of sound-system builders, DJs and selectors, musicians, fans, party hosts, clubs, shebeens, record labels, record-shops and recording studios. It will uncover new stories – such as the role of women and pirate radio stations in the development of reggae, its musical precursors (and those it influenced) and how the legacy of reggae influences music being made in the borough today.

Would grime sound like grime without reggae? Have the pioneers of the 1970s in Harlesden ever received the respect they deserve? How did reggae change Britain?