Movers and shakers: Fan’s eye view of Bristol’s musical megamix

Seven decades of Bristol music featuring city-based artists from Russ Conway to Massive Attack has been jammed into a new book chronicling Bristol’s fiercely independent musical scene. 

Bristol Music: Seven Decades of Sound is a joint publication between Tangent, Bristol Books and the M Shed penned by city music aficionado, editor and former Ashton Court festival committee member Richard Jones.

The pocket-sized guide takes readers on a citywide tour for a fan’s eye view of Bristol’s musical mainstream – from the skiffle and rock n roll pioneers through to pop crooners, legendarily heavy rockers, to punk, reggae and hip-hop - checking out bands, DJs and producers along the way.

It has been launched to accompany the exhibition of the same name at the city’s M Shed.

Richard Jones said: “While a book of this size can’t hope to cover every last combo that ever trod the boards around the city, we have tried to capture the essence of the Bristol Sound – and interpret how different bands and groups of fans have contributed to it.”   

Anarchic, cross-fertilized and highly incestuous, Bristol’s music scene has thrown up any number of big name bands often recruiting drummers, guitarists and singers from among their contemporaries.

Richard said: “It was a real challenge unpicking who played with who and for how long – or when and where a particular genre such as hip-hop first emerged from the city suburbs.

“Very often, bands emerged from small-time gigs to become the must-see band. Some of them, such as Acker Bilk, Massive Attack, Portishead, the Wurzels, Chaos UK and Roni Size went on to make their mark on the national and even international music scene.”

Seven Decades of Sound charts Bristol’s musical hierarchy from 1955 – dropping in on legendary venues such as the Dug Out, the Bamboo Club, the Granary and Old Duke as well as the more familiar Colston Hall and Hippodrome.

The book includes artefacts from the M Shed archive, including posters and fanzines and an alphabetical timeline of the most successful Bristol-based artists.

This is the first co-publication from city publishers Tangent and Bristol Books in conjunction with M Shed.

Clive Burlton, a director from Bristol Books, said: “While Tangent Books has built its reputation around the city’s artistic and political landscape, Bristol Books is best known for its local history studies – although our portfolio also covers Bristol musical legends such as Adge Cutler and Fred Wedlock.”

Bristol Music: Seven Decades of Sound, compiled by Richard Jones (978-1-910089-75-0), £8.99 is available from M Shed,,, Foyles, Bristol, Bristol Tourist Information Centre, the People’s Republic Of Stokes Croft and Co-Lab, Bristol.

The logo for the exhibition and book cover was designed by well-known Bristol street artist Felix Braun who is also the author of Children Of The Can: Bristol Graffiti And Street Art Tangent Books).

Bristol Music: Seven Decades of Sound runs at M Shed until September 30.