Rock's Backpages Library Rock's Backpages

Len Brown

Len Brown

Born in the Scottish borders, Len escaped from the head-banging hairy-backed rock scene of Newcastle in the ‘70s. He sub-edited and wrote for NME and Vox in the ‘80s and early ‘90s – chiefly chasing and championing the Smiths, Gil-Scott Heron and myriad World Music masters such as Youssou N'Dour – before stumbling into an ongoing television career.

His patchy history of TV music documentary credits (as producer, director or executive producer) includes the My Generation series for Channel Four (The Animals, The Kinks, The Troggs, The Yardbirds, The Small Faces and Herman's Hermits), The Brit Girls for Channel Four (Cilla, Sandie, Marianne and Lulu), It's Slade, Wild Boys: Duran Duran, A Fine Romance: The New Romantics, Rod Stewart & The Faces: Wine Women & Song (all for BBC1) plus Close To You: The Carpenters for ITV. Len also produced the definitive television documentary about Marc Bolan – T.Rex: Dandy In The Underworld.

Married with two daughters and marooned in the Midlands, he's now trying to re-invent himself as a screenwriter but still dreams of making documentaries about Kate Bush and Sandy Denny. (Whatever happened to The Weather Prophets?) Len's Meetings With Morrissey is published by Omnibus Press.

List of articles in the library by artist

Adult Net, The , The Bluebells, The Smiths: I Was A Juvenile Axe-Attacker: Craig Gannon

Retrospective and Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1989

From THE SMITHS to THE ADULT NET, THE BLUEBELLS to THE COLOURFIELD and not forgetting AZTEC CAMERA… CRAIG GANNON has played with them all, and ...

Aswad: Distant Thunder

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, April 1988

DEEP JOY is in my heart that Aswad have had a giant hit single, a corking little pop reggae soul tune of some upliftingness. However, ...

The Band of Holy Joy: "Bertolt Brecht, my arse!"

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, June 1987

THE BAND OF HOLY JOY go to Tynemouth and back to say 'we're not a bunch of art poseurs, ta very much' Bag-man: LEN BROWN ...

The Band of Holy Joy, James: Band of Holy Joy, James: Manc Magic Majestic

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, December 1989

Band of Holy Joy, James: Cambridge Corn Exchange ...

The Bhundu Boys Take Up Whistle-Blowing

Interview by Len Brown, Independent, The, November 1991

David Mankaba, of Africa's best-known band, decided to tell the whole continent he was dying of AIDS. It was his challenge to ignorance and apathy, ...

Billy Bragg's record collection

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1987

A HARE-BRAINED afternoon in the warmest room and things are not quite what they seem. The bookshelves may be burdened with Mayakovsky and miner's lamps; ...

Billy Bragg: Is Billy Bragg Pissing In The Wind Or What?

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, November 1989

Highway Through Hellas: a Greek tragicomedy in sex acts and three comic benefits. Starring Billy Bragg as Flash Gordon (protest singer, planet saviour and aspiring ...

Kate Bush: Positive Female Energy

Interview by Len Brown, CD Review, December 1989

"I find it extraordinary that people should want to write about me when I do so little. I just pop out and do an album ...

Kate Bush: Down At The Old Bul and Bush

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, November 1988

Kate Bush and Yanka Rupkina sit on a bean-bag couch and sing to me, Bulgarian style; Rupkina bleating high and joyous above Bush's harmony. ...

Kate Bush: In The Realm Of The Senses

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, October 1989

The essence of sensuality and child-like wonder or screeching wood nymph? KATE BUSH steps back into the spotlight after four years of reclusive recording and ...

David Byrne: Rei Momo (Sire-WEA)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, October 1989

PURISTS AND cultural segregationists must be reaching for the suicide pills. There's Acid Bhangra, African House, Japanese ska, Brazillian Hip-hop, Yemenite disco, Turkish rap, Kate ...

Tracy Chapman: Tracy Chapman (Elektra)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, April 1988

SHE COMES from the wilderness, as prophesised, with a voice like molasses, hair like an ink blot and a heartful of tears. She comes with ...

The Christians: Rock On Commie: The Christians In East Berlin

Report and Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, August 1987

WHERE AM I? The hotel receptionist says, "Have a nice day". There's Gershwin muzak in the lift. There's Sade on the radio. There's no bugging ...

Jennifer Warnes, Leonard Cohen: Jennifer Warnes: Famous Blue Raincoat (RCA)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, June 1987

THE TOTAL exhumation and resurrection of Leonard Cohen gathers alarming pace. Here Jennifer Warnes, one-time backer to ole grumble guts, runs through nine of laff-a-lifetime-Len's ...

Edwyn Collins: Hope Springs Eternal: Edwyn Collins

Interview by Len Brown, Cut, The, Fall 1989

Though his brand of jangly guitar pop is oft-imitated, commercial success has eluded EDWYN COLLINS. But the ex-Orange Juice frontman isn't bitter, as LEN BROWN ...

Phil Collins: Well Chuffed

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, November 1988

Does PHIL COLLINS keep up the tradition and slot into the file alongside Ringo and Keith Moon – tub-thumpers and "silly" actors both? LEN BROWN ...

Alice Cooper, Status Quo, The Stranglers: Alice Cooper, The Stranglers, Status Quo: Reading Festival

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, September 1987

WELCOME TO my nightmare. "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! It's been five years but it's good to be back. . . Awwwwwwright! . . . We f—kin' ...

Julian Cope: Saint Julian (Island)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1987

THERE HAVE been four Saint Julians. One, Julian of Toledo, persecuted the Jews; Julian the Hospitaller murdered his mum and dad by mistake; and three, ...

Elvis Costello And The Attractions at the Royal Albert Hall

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, January 1987

STEVEN THE computer programmer is in his element. In black and white stripes with red kipper tie, he's sweating, shaking and singing all the words ...

Cowboy Junkies: Saddled With The Blues: Cowboy Junkies

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, 1988

JOHN WAYNE on smack? Is that what you expected and outfit who call themselves Cowboy Junkies to sound like? Wild country and western shoot-outs and ...

The Cradle, Easterhouse: The Cradle: The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, May 1987

Following the acrimonious break-up of Easterhouse last year, guitarist Ivor Perry has put together a less rigidly militant combo called THE CRADLE. LEN BROWN hears ...

The Darling Buds, The House Of Love, The Wonder Stuff: The House of Love, The Darling Buds and The Wonder Stuff: Tomorrow Belongs To Us

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, January 1989

AT THE DAWN OF 1989 I'm confronted by Guy House Of Love Chadwick, Andrea Darling Bud and Miles Wonder Stuff. The first, an anorexic Brian ...

Deacon Blue: Light Macs: Deacon Blue: Raintown (CBS)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, May 1987

RICKY ROSS— it's the type of name that must determine your destiny. Like Reed Richards: Reasonable Superhero or Bruno Brookes: Burly Deejay or Dickie Davies: ...

The Dinner Ladies, The Oyster Band: The Oyster Band and The Dinner Ladies: A Total Oyster Time?

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, July 1988

Is the New Wave of British Folk going anywhere, or is it just the old stuff tanked up and recut? ...

Donovan: Wordy Gurdy Man

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, November 1990

IT'S BIN A long time comin'. Twenty-five years since his first Top 20 hit ('Catch The Wind' in '65) and over 20 since his last ...

Nick Drake: Deja Vu: Nick Drake

Retrospective by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1989

Nick Drake: Five Leaves Left ...

Nick Drake: Drake's Progress

Review and Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, August 1986

NICK DRAKE was one of Britain's finest folksingers. Now Hannibal Records have re-released his complete works – and included some previously unavailable songs. LEN BROWN ...

Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Bob Dylan/Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers /Roger McGuinn: Modena Autodrome, Turin

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, September 1987

ROCK HACKS aren't allowed near Bob. He's got no time for the press. In fact, someone who once met his grannie's dog-minder tells me Bob ...

The Fall Play Hey! Luciani: Riverside Studios, London

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, December 1986

THERE'S A PLAY in every one of us, even Ernie Wise. And perhaps Mark E. Smith. In fact, most of the ingredients are here, maybe ...

The Fall: I Am Kurious Oranj (Beggars Banquet)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, October 1988

"When I was at the Witch Trials of the 20th Century, they said: 'You are white crap. You are an aesthetic anesthetic. Your repetition will ...

The Fall, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Wire: Siouxsie And The Banshees/The Fall/Wire: Finsbury Park, London

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, August 1987

AND DARKNESS fell over all the earth. Well, only a teensyweensy bit of it actually, but it turned into the arse-end of Pandemonium. A plethora ...

Peter Gabriel: An Alien In The Real World

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, June 1989

Although he's never appeared in the Sunday Sport, PETER GABRIEL has achieved enough for anyone else's lifetime. In part two of this interview, he talks ...

Peter Gabriel, Youssou N'Dour: Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos

Report and Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, June 1989

YOUSSOU N'DOUR and PETER GABRIEL, the pair that have set so many causes alight, have combined again, this time to champion female emancipation. LEN BROWN ...

Peter Gabriel, Youssou N'Dour: Earls Court, London

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, July 1987

THE '70S DINOSAURS are dying out; either through lack of brain, excess of dosh or both. ...

Nanci Griffith: Little Love Affairs

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1988

SHE'S THE very picture of vulnerability. The little girl stands – bobby sox, blazer, hair-band, sprig of blue bonnets in hand – by the window, ...

Woody Guthrie: Columbia River Collection

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1988

THE LEGEND dwarfs the artist. His tragic life, his hard times have somehow cast his potent roots music into the shadows; if you can lay ...

Woody Guthrie: Glory Days

Retrospective by Len Brown, Record Hunter, January 1991

Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan may never have strummed a note had it not been for the influence of the folk pioneer, Woody Guthrie. So ...

Roy Harper: Peace, Love and a Punchup with Ginger Baker: The Saga of Roy Harper

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, June 1990

After 25 years on life's acoustic stage, ROY HARPER is undoubtedly King Of The Hippies. In a moment of good karma, NME let the man ...

The Housemartins: If You Love Jesus

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, December 1986

FOR GOD'S SAKE, stop and think. When Christmas Day first strikes again – when you're reeling in the aisles, cock-eyed and carolling, desperate for a ...

Alan Hull: Hull's Teeth: An Interview with Alan Hull

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, December 1985

HARD TIMES on Tyneside. So what's new, pussycats? There's snow storms, there's no jobs (30% unemployment), and worst of all, the by-election bigwigs – Brittan, ...

John Martyn: Piece By Piece

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1986

ONLY A HEARTLESS bastard would knock old John. I mean. 20 years of love-drugged poetry, dedicated to ideal earth mothers, cossetted in an Arcadian atmosphere ...

Joy Division: She’s Got Control

Interview by Len Brown, Q, June 1995

Fifteen years after he hanged himself in their Macclesfield kitchen, Joy Division leader Ian Curtis has been "outed" by his widow, Deborah, as an ill-tempered, ...

Joy Division, Tony Wilson: Division On: Joy Division

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, May 1990

"FUNNY. I WAS IN the car with Barney the other day and I just hit Unknown Pleasures into the CD. And Barney shouted, 'Get that ...

Mick Karn: Dreams Of Reason Produce Monsters (Virgin)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1987

MICK'S HIT upon hard times since the fall of Japan and his forgotten Titles. Perhaps the demise of the miscellaneous/multi-instrumentalist category in the Readers' Poll ...

Fela Kuti: The Great Pretender: Fela Kuti

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, October 1986

So, who is this FELA KUTI? An African musician just out of jail and now threatening to run for President of Nigeria? A polygamist in ...

Gasper Lawal Band: Cricketers, London

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, August 1983

IN THE TROPICAL heatwave of Afro-beat addiction it is unjust that Gasper Lawal should remain in the shade. ...

Lindisfarne: Dance Your Life Away

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, December 1986

IT'S PHENOMENAL. Soon a whole city will be swinging together. Every Christmas, like clockwork, a bunch of hairy, balding middle-aged men take the stage and ...

Lone Justice: Marquee, London

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1987

MARIA McKEE bites yer lugs. Sometimes it's a sensual experience; a shiver in the stirrup, a tickle on the lobe. Sometimes it's excruciating; the yelp ...

Ewan MacColl, Paul Weller, Tom Robinson Band: A Concert For Heroes: Paul Weller, Tom Robinson, Ewan McColl at the Royal Albert Hall

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1986

A WORKING-CLASS hero is something to be; it gets more difficult by the day. Under a Government that puts Profit and Progress before People (don't ...

Johnny Marr: What Is Johnny Marr Playing At?

Report by Len Brown, New Musical Express, May 1989

SINCE THE SMITHS split in 1987, MORRISSEY has gone on to bigger if not necessarily better things, while JOHNNY MARR has been living the 'have ...

Microdisney: Crooked Mile (Virgin)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, January 1987

PLEASE EXCUSE my pretentiousness, but William Morris wrote in The Earthly Paradise: "Dreamer of dreams, born out of my time, why should I strive to ...

The Mighty Lemon Drops: Happy Head

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, September 1986

THEY'VE GOT to give it to us now. They can't hold on anymore. The first of the Class of '86 to really go the distance, ...

Momus: Lusts of a Moron

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, August 1987

IS MOMUS perverted, introspective, or just more candid than most? LEN BROWN meets the man whose songs are a poison heartache. ...

Christy Moore: Hammersmith Odeon

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, January 1987

WHILE OUR pubs become youth clubs (16-30s), where communication is broken by mindless muzak, and while our elders are alienated from our "social" lives, the ...

Van Morrison: Hammersmith Odeon, London

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, January 1987

NOT UNREASONABLY I've always associated middle-aged corpulence and material over-indulgence with the death of desire to develop; we witness the long drawn-out demise of our ...

Morrissey: Bona Contention

Interview by Len Brown, Vox, November 1990

Morrissey could probably have done without the last year, and there's a been a few none too kind hacks and hackettes who say we could ...

Morrissey: Born to be Wilde - interview part 2

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1988

"I THINK that very strong intelligent artists should dictate practically everything, but they don't. If we talk about Tiffany and Belinda Carlisle and the whole ...

Morrissey: Borne To Be Wilde - interview part 1

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1988

"WE HAVE a warrant here, Mr. Wilde, for your arrest on a charge of committing indecent acts." "Where shall I be taken?" "To Bow Street." ...

Morrissey: Desecrating Wildly

Report and Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1988

"How could they do this to Oscar Wilde's grave?" Len Brown asks of Morrissey, but finds his genitals reduced to paperweights. (Oscar's that is...) ...

Morrissey: Gmex, Manchester

Live Review by Len Brown, Rock's Backpages, December 2006

A DICKENSIAN SMOG shrouds the city centre and the increasingly familiar ghost of Manchester's Christmas' past shuffles onto the stage. "Well, they look friendly," he ...

Morrissey: I'll Astonish You

Interview by Len Brown, Details, March 1991

"IF GEORGE MICHAEL had to live my life for five minutes, he'd strangle himself with the nearest piece of cord," says Morrissey as he walks ...

Morrissey: Wolverhampton

Live Review by Len Brown, Guardian, The, December 1988

WITH A soft Charles Hawtrey-style "hullo" and a shower of flowers. Steven Patrick Morrissey returns to the stage. It's two years since his uniquely English ...

Morrissey: Unhappy Birthday, Morrissey

Retrospective by Len Brown, Rock's Backpages, May 2009

N.B. This is the full, unedited version of a piece published in The Guardian on 22 May 2009 ...

Morrissey: Viva Morrissey

Review and Interview by Len Brown, Spin, June 1988

Lyricist extraordinaire, celibate aesthete, charismatic bigmouth, the former Smiths frontman returns for tea & sympathy ...

Morrissey, The Smiths: Hate Male

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, July 1988

The Smiths were "like a life-support machine" to Morrissey. Without STEPHEN STREET – co-writer/producer of Viva Hate – it's conceivable that Les Miserable himself would ...

New Order: Substance (Factory)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, August 1987

WE CHUCK words at New Order. Words like funereal and ethereal and classical and awesome. ...

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark: The Pacific Age

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, October 1986

OH TO put aside the racehorses, to forget Morley's G-Mex intro ("two rich bastards from LA") to ignore the cobalt-coated doughboys who adorn the inner ...

The Oyster Band: Wide Blue Yonder (Cooking Vinyl)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, September 1987

ONCE UPON a time, admitting to a fondness for English folk was akin to confessing a savage case of crabs. Then came The Oyster Band, ...

Prefab Sprout: From Langley Park To Memphis

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1988

FROM THE raw-wrestling flesh of Swoon to the black-faced greasy bikedom of Steve McQueen, the sleeves of Sprout albums have refused to reveal or hint ...

Tom Robinson Band: Tom Robinson: Rising Cramp

Report and Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, September 1986

TOM ROBINSON enters stage left to add his musical and emotional weight to John Godber's Cramp. LEN BROWN meets the DJ, anti-coke campaigner and gay ...

Santana: Carlos Santana

Profile and Interview by Len Brown, unpublished, 1989

This article appeared in edited form in New Musical Express"This is a good time to replenish, to renourish and drink silence." ...

Gil Scott-Heron: Word War Fighter

Report by Len Brown, New Musical Express, July 1986

Prophet, poet and rap pioneer GIL SCOTT-HERON was calling for sanctions against South Africa a decade ago in his hit ‘Johannesburg’. Currently due to appear ...

Frank Sidebottom: 5/9/88! (In Tape Double LP/Cassette only)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, September 1988

THE VERY existence of 5/9/88! is a triumph of art over antagonism. Like The Smiths at Strangeways… and The Beatles during Let It Be, Sidebottom's ...

Paul Simon: Royal Albert Hall, London

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, April 1987

LET'S NOT beat about the bush. This is a celebration of black South African music with an anti-apartheid spirit mixed into its magic. And it ...

Simply Red

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1986

SCENES OF decay and destruction: cracked streets, derelict warehouses, disused railways, a forsaken synagogue and – cloaked by walls of racist graffiti – the burnt-out ...

The Smiths: Strangeways, Here We Come

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, September 1987

"MAN THAT is born of woman hath but a short time to live and is full of misery. He cometh up and is cut down ...

The Smiths: Newcastle Mayfair

Live Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, August 1986

WE'RE HUDDLED together (2000 of us) in the home of heavy metal, witnessing the early disturbed sound of 'Bigmouth'. But thankfully they're just warming up; ...

Dusty Springfield: Scandal In The Wind

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1989

"IT'S AMAZING when you consider how many people have croaked. Looking back at some of those old Ready Steady Go! Shows, 'Jesus, she's croaked, where's ...

Dusty Springfield: Scandal In The Wind: Dusty Springfield

Report and Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, 1989

As the sex-in-high-places Profumo Scandal returns to this nation's screens, Dusty Springfield (with the Pet Shop Boys) brings us the single soundtrack. Len Brown met ...

Martin Stephenson & The Daintees: Gladsome Humour & Blue (Kitchenware/London)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, April 1988

STEPHENSON BUILDS bridges. Between love and hate, between cradle and grave, between folk and pop, between the past and the present. He surveys the world ...

The Style Council: Style Council: The Cost Of Loving (Polydor)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, February 1987

LISTEN TO the wordly-wise Cappuccino Kid: "...this affair of the heart, once it began, dispelled all the bitternenss I felt at the world, and gave ...

The Sundays: They Do Like Sundays

Interview by Len Brown, Vox, January 1991

They do like the sundays in japan, where their three-rs album title was renamed for local pronunciation and they like 'em in the States. Despite ...

Suzanne Vega: Godmother Of New Age

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, April 1990

Suzanne Vega was brought up as a Puerto Rican, attended the neo-legendary New York School Of Performing Arts and went on to become the sensitive ...

The Weather Prophets: Singing In The Rain: The Weather Prophets

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1987

Songs?! Poetry?!! Something's very wrong here; THE WEATHER PROPHETS are making a splash as a high profile rock band, but there's no mention of metal ...

The Weather Prophets: Diesel River

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, November 1986

I'M TOLD Diesel River is designed specifically for our teutonic friends. But considering that many of our "biggest record stores in the world" are hotching ...

The Weather Prophets: Judges Juries & Horsemen (Creation)

Review by Len Brown, New Musical Express, May 1988

WELCOME TO The Pete Astor Experience. ...

Papa Wemba: Papa's Got a Brand New Wardrobe: Papa Wemba

Profile and Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1989

Film-star, superhero, total poseur, Zairean PAPA WEMBA brings his brand of designer World Beat to town, with a swish of posh cloth and a creak ...

Wet Wet Wet: Scream! Scream! Scream!

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, August 1987

Lock up your pop-stars, Glasgow's daughters are on the rampage. Thankfully the police have got the situation under control. Wet Wet Wet may be trapped ...

The Woodentops: Walk Tall

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, July 1986

"...walk straight and look the world right in the eye." Giant-sized babythings THE WOODENTOPS have given birth, at last, to their first bouncy, long-playing offspring. ...

List of genre pieces

"I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives"

Interview by Len Brown, New Musical Express, October 1989

PETER JENNER epitomises the 'fifth Beatle' school of pop management, guiding the ill starred careers of the early Pink Floyd, Marc Bolan and Topper-troubled Clash ...

Joe Boyd: Elephant Man

Profile and Interview by Len Brown, unpublished, March 1989

IN AN UPSTAIRS storeroom at Hannibal Records HQ, the quarterback-sized Joe Boyd sits on a sack. Around him are boxes, piled high, brimming with the ...

Never Mind The Balkans: The New Bulgaria

Report by Len Brown, New Musical Express, March 1988

Not exactly Bananarama, perhaps, but 4AD's LE MYSTÈRE DES VOIX BULGARES and TRIO BULGARKA and other Bulgarian artists are shifting a surprising number of units ...

back to LIBRARY

COPYRIGHT NOTICE