The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Remembering Elain – Spotify playlist

Image: Daniel Hambury

Compiled by her friends Bob Stanley (journalist, author, film producer and member of the indie band Saint Etienne), David Trevor Jones, Emily Gee, Paul Stirner and Jon Wright, C20 Society presents a special musical accompaniment to this months Remembering Elain Harwood event at the Southbank Centre.

Spanning punk, post-punk, folk, art rock and african music, the playlist features many of Elain’s favourite tracks and shows her taste in music was just as eclectic as that in buildings! Click the player below and drop the stylus for 3+ hours of sonic exploration.


Musical recollections

David Trevor-Jones – Lifelong friend and Chairman of Cinema Theatre Association

Elain was passionately into music.  It was what brought us together in Bristol in 1976.  She joined the ‘Ents Committee’, the group of would-be musicians, promoters, roadies (and groupies!) that put on concerts in the Student Union.  As a major league Union we could get some quite big names, and being there through the dawn of the punk revolution was a fascinating experience for both of us.  It changed Elain’s style and outlook as well as her listening.

On moving to London in 1980 Elain started going to gigs at venues such as The Marquee, The Moonlight Club, The Electric Ballroom and The Clarendon (all now long gone).  This was the immediate post-punk period that spawned a whole generation of innovative, thrilling music.  It also saw the emergence of world music from its narrow niche and Elain dived enthusiastically into African music, especially the East African guitar bands championed by Andy Kershaw and John Peel.

Most importantly, Elain adopted The Fall very early in their recording and performing career, starting a life-long fandom and special relationship with that band and their music.  They were undoubtedly her favourite band of all time.  Among Elain’s literary works was a contribution to ‘Excavate – The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall’, edited by Tessa Norton and Bob Stanley.

Music really mattered to Elain.  Before the pandemic she commenced the huge project of listening to her very large record/cd collection in alphabetical order – I don’t know how far she got or whether she completed it.  So she did look back as well as forward in her listening but in recent years she pursued a path into electronic and dance music, and necessarily into the soundtracks for SPIN classes.  I am not sure that she revisited the music that she was listening to pre-punk, around the time that I first met her, but she did talk about it in an interview with our mutual friend, the music journalist and author Mike Barnes, for ‘A New Day Yesterday’, his definitive account of Prog Rock.  I do know that she maintained her commitments to African guitars and to The Fall (though it ceased to exist as a band/project following the death of main-man Mark E.Smith in 2018) and also to the radio show presented by John Peel’s son.  Just as Peel Senior inspired Elain’s musical listening from the start and through the decades of his BBC Radio 1 shows, Tom Ravenscroft continued to do so with his show on Radio 6 Music to the end.  Elain’s musical taste was never, ever mainstream!

Assorted song notes

Elain Harwood: A legacy lives on

C20 has created the Elain Harwood Memorial Fund to ensure that her invaluable contribution to the safeguarding of Britain’s remarkable modern architecture and design heritage. The fund will help secure the long-term future of our vital casework and campaigns, while offering new opportunities to young people passionate about heritage. If you’re able to give and want to invest in the future of the Society, please click here for more information.

Elain Harwood (1958-2023)

Image: Wilde Fry


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