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Saturday 6 December 2014, 2-5pm
Brilliant Corners, 470 Kingsland Rd, London, E8 4AE

Cultural commentator Paul Gilroy will play and discuss a selection of recordings on the legendary audiophile sound system at Brilliant Corners – an audiophile jazz cafe in Dalston – thinking about ways of making sense of the present and past of recorded music, and the relationship of musical experimentation to political radicalism and utopianism. Music courtesy of the Sarava! crew, and normal restaurant service, will continue into the evening.

Respondent: Jennifer Otter (UEL)
Chair: Jeremy Gilbert.

Stefan played his 45s first. Chronological with a few themes interwoven:  class and language; class oppression; local musics; post colonial solidarity; subversive B-sides; Psych-pop and youth consciousness forming on a very emotive plane.

1958 ‘Life of a Millionaire’ by Scrapper Blackwell  (record 1967) Replacement for a lost Sonny Boy Williamson 2 EP

1958  ‘Three O’clock Thrill’ by Kalin Twins. One hit wonders.  Subversive B-side theme  Media gatekeeping good taste/ vulgarity/ key word= BOWDLERISATION

1960  ‘My Old Mans a Dustman’ by Lonnie Donegan – Royal Variety story  theme: class and language  Smash Deference/ class oppression theme. Connection to music hall.

1964 ‘In The Bath’ by Flanders and Swann – Genteel English rap music?!  Hygiene? Class dirt?  class oppression theme. Connection to music hall via respectable and regulated Variety.

1965  ‘My Generation’ – The Who  “Why doncha all FFFF… fade away!” Primetime TV fracture of the media screen.

1966 ‘Shanty Town’ – Desmond Dekker. Lived in Thornton Heath.

NOT THIS ONE !  1978 Sex Pistols do ‘God Save the Queen’ in the UK conspicuous by its absence among my 45s too rare. Smash deference!

1977 Oh Bondage Up Yours – X Ray Spex. Poly Styrene at Oval House workshops in seventies. (not played in Sheffield – left of the printed list I used)

1979 ‘Common as Muck’  – Ian Dury  theme: class and language.

‘Reasons to be Cheerful’   an artwork, or as young Rocko said “Lots of detail”.

1984 ‘SmallTown Boy’ – Bronski Beat (not Tom Robinson’s ‘Proud to be Gay’ which we sung along to in pubs in 1978 but not so musically satisfying) Interesting comment from Ian Trowell about the music video that originally accompanied and empowered the track.

1986 Tippa Ire – ‘Live as One’   2nd subversive B-side  Lived in Thornton Heath along with Dekker.

c1994  Steve Cope & the 1926 Committee, ‘Attitude Problem’  cassette home publishing –  Local music theme/ class oppression satire.  Played from a one-off dub plate specially made for the evening.

Didn’t have time in Sheffield for the other 45s I brought, which would have brought us up to 2008 – they were:

1987  ‘Hourglass’ – Squeeze.   theme: class and language

1987 ‘Beds as Burning’ – Midnight Oil (Aboriginal Rights)

1988 ‘Gimme Hope Diana’ – Eddie Grant  (anti apartheid)

1988 ‘Knock on Wood’  – Amii Stewart  (Blues and soul music to mod culture)

1987 (Something inside) ‘So Strong’ – Labi Siffre  Psych-pop theme

1992 Success has made a Failure of Our Home’ – Sinead O’Connor – ‘ Psych-pop

Death of 45s as mainstream recorded music commodities. tape cassette, CD and then MP3 dominance.
DJ revival of 45s and dub plates and limited editions

2004  Chanson Risk – Asja aug Capri on Difficult Fun Label 001  Intellectuals make music
http://www.difficultfun.org/items/flyer.html  45s as artworks.

2008  ‘Searching’ – Speech Debelle – numbered edition 405/500 promo 45. class and language

2008 ‘Peaceful Solution’ – Willie Nelson Prod. Mad Professor ARIWA “Let’s take back America”. Many subsequent remixes etc. Mad Prof lives in and around Thornton Heath.

 

The list of tracks played by my guests at Site Gallery, Sheffield: Shirley Cameron and Roland Miller.

Shirley Cameron’s list:

Vladimir Ussachevsky – side 1 track 2, 1952
Bonzo Dog Band – We are normal, 1965
Laurie Anderson – O Superman, 1982
Beatles – Revolution, 1968

Roland Miller’s list:

John Cage – Fontana Mix, 1967
Captain Beefheart – Mirrow Man, 1965
Sex Pistols – My Way, 1972
Pink Floyd – Money, 1973.

Stefan’s playlist was previously played at Sharon Kivland’s opening of her solo show about French Revolution at CGP gallery, Southwark on 5th October.

Playing records and talking about them is part of Agit Disco dispersal phase. Available for hire.

Revolt of the Ravers: The Movement Against the Criminal Justice Act, 1994

MayDay Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH

Sunday, October 19. 12.00-11.00pm

Archive activation, presentation and discussion. (open)

Screen-Shot-2014-09-16-at-23.06.20

Full details here:

http://maydayrooms.org/event/revolt-of-the-ravers-the-movement-against-the-criminal-justice-act-1994-open/

 

 

Image: Mighty Sparrow performing in a Calyspo tent, undated

Stefan Szczelkun reviews Everard M. Phillips, The Political Calypso: a sociolinguistic process of conflict transformation

For Everard M. Phillips recent Trinidadian political calypso is something as serious as your life. He ascribes to it a direct role in a ‘non-formal’ process of jurisprudence, or what he prefers to call ‘conflict transformation’. His ideas on conflict transformation draw on studies of globally widespread practices of dispute resolution by informal mediation, challenging the literal and formal approach to law built into the history of western states and their courts. Phillips defines conflict as ‘an inevitable part of the triadic process of learning, growth and change’ (p.17): he prefers the idea of transformation of meanings to that of ‘conflict resolution’, which often ends up resolving a problem in a way that brings more advantages to one party – usually the state – than the other, reproducing the original inequalities… continued here:  A Rough Passage to Navigate.

‘Music & Politics’ with John Hutnyk, John Pandit from Asian Dub Foundation and Aki Nawaz from Fun-Da-Mental
Wednesday 8th October, 7pm   Housemans Bookshop, KingsX

http://www.housmans.com/events.php

Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase. (book to avoid disappointment)

MUSIC_POLITICS

 

John Hutnyk will be discussing his most recent book, ‘Pantomime Terror: Music and Politics’ (Zero Books 2014), which explores the music of artists who have confronted the status-quo in a post 9/11 world, and the demonization such artists have had to contend with as a result.

Hutnyk considers the likes of Fun-da-Mental’s Aki Nawaz, portrayed as a ‘suicide rapper’, Asian Dub Foundation striking poses from the street in support of youth in Paris and Algiers, and M.I.A., outspoken defender of the Tamil struggle, as well as  reflecting on bus bombs, comedy circuits, critical theory, Arabian Nights, Bradley Wiggins, Dinarzade, Karl Marx, Paris boulevards, Molotov, Mao, the Eiffel Tower, reserve armies, lists, Richard Wagner, Samina Malik, Slavoj Žižek, Freudian slips, red-heads, and Guantanamo.

John will be joined by John Pandit from Asian Dub Foundation and Aki Nawaz from Fun-Da-Mental.

“If you’re of the opinion that music and politics should generally keep the fuck out of each other’s way, then Pantomime Terror will be a tough sell. But author John Hutnyk’s polemic is rational, convincing and supported by relentless, tirelessly researched cross-referencing, so consider us sold.” ~ Record Collector UK

“This book starts with the countless provocations that surround us in the ambient war on terror. However, rather than retreating into either loathsome self-pity or indignant self-righteousness, Hutnyk responds with the thumping provocation to think and get real!” ~ Nikos Papastergiadis, University of Melbourne

PRE-ANARCHSIT BOOKFAIR EVENT
PM Press present:
‘Working Class Culture’
with John Barker, Robb Johnson and Leon Rosselson
Friday 17th October, 7pm
RSVP ESSENTIAL: Please email nik@housmans.com to book your place

Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase 


Political singer-songwriters Robb Johnson and Leon Rosselson are joined by author and activist John Barker to perform their work, and discuss the politics of working class culture.

John Barker is perhaps best known for being one of four Angry Brigade members sentenced to 10 years in prison for a series of insurrectionary bombings in 1972. He worked as a dustman and welder before being implicated in a conspiracy to import cannabis in 1986. In 1990 he was finally arrested and served a five-year sentence.

John has gone on to write ‘Bending the Bars: Prison Stories of an Angry Brigade Member’ (ChristieBooks, 2007) and this year PM Press have published ‘Futures’, from which John will be  reading on the night. Originally  written more than 20 years ago it tells the story of Carol, a young single mother and drug dealer, Gordon, a “tasty”, self-regarding old-school London gangster, and two coke-snorting financial analysts, Phil and Jack, who entertain a fantasy of a cocaine futures market. Their internal lives are described in a richly original, cliche-free style and the book is remarkably prescient.

Robb Johnson is a musician and songwriter, who has been called “one of the last genuinely political songwriters”, and is known for his mix of political satire and wit.

Johnson began his musical career playing in folk clubs in the 1970s and ran a folk club at the University of Sussex, before forming a band called Grubstreet, which split up in 1983. Two years later he made his first solo album – In Amongst the Rain – setting up his own label on which to release it, before forming an agitprop group, The Ministry of Humour, with Mark Shilcock and Graham Barnes. After the break-up of this act and a failed attempt at forming a new electric band, he returned to performing solo and also formed a duo with female singer Pip Collings.

In 1997 he composed the song cycle Gentle Men, based on the experiences of his grandfathers in the First World War. The song cycle was recorded by Johnson in collaboration with Roy Bailey, and performed at the commemorative Passchendaele Peace Concert. In 2006 he was a special guest at the BBC’s “Folk Britannia” concert at the Barbican Centre, ending the night with a rendition of World War I song “Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire”. He remains active and has released at least one album annually for over 20 years, as well as playing regular gigs, including benefits and political events.

“There is no songwriter to compare with Robb Johnson operating in the UK” – Radio 2
www.robbjohnson.co.uk/

Leon Rosselson: After his early involvement in the folk music revival in Britain, he came to prominence, singing his own satirical songs, in the BBC’s topical TV programme of the early 1960s, That Was The Week That Was. He toured Britain and abroad, singing mainly his own songs and accompanying himself with acoustic guitar.

In later years, he has published 17 children’s books, the first of which, Rosa’s Singing Grandfather, was shortlisted in 1991 for the Carnegie Medal.

His song The World Turned Upside Down has been recorded and popularised by, amongst others, Dick Gaughan and Billy Bragg (who took it into the pop charts in 1985) and has been sung on numerous demonstrations in Britain and the USA.

His Ballad of a Spycatcher, ridiculing the ban on Peter Wright’s book, went into the Indie Singles charts in 1987 in a version backed by Billy Bragg and the Oyster Band.
http://www.leonrosselson.co.uk

Showing at Gimpel Fils Gallery, London until the 11th October 2014 M-F 10 – 5.30, Sat 11 – 4pm 

The film is a visual performance to an eleven minute section of the soundtrack of Spielberg’s 2005 War of the Worlds, starting 22 minutes in when the war is underway. This is made in a domestic setting in a Tel Aviv suburb by various means: short scenes are acted out in a playful way with the use of domestic tools and everyday objects as plausible sound makers used by foley artist impersonators; children and adults lip sync to the moments of dramatic dialogue and action; the main interior room used is the kitchen. Inserted into this is a restrained use of theatrical props, mainly a rubber severed hand, and short snippets of news footage of war in Israel. The Spielberg sound design, mixed with the music composed by John Williams, is of course high-end and this contrasts, sometimes to comic effect, with the make-do quality of some of the props used to mis-represent the causes of these sounds. To rise to the challenge of the ‘War of the Worlds’ action a lot of things are smashed up including a basketball that crashes through a real window. Alarm clocks, hoovers, blenders, gas flames, spillages and domestic accidents appear to contribute their sounds. Who knows, some of these things may have actually been used by the Hollywood foley artists who are famous for their inventive use of everyday objects.

Guy Ben-Ner Soundtrack2

The film is very affecting after the recent Israeli offensive but was in fact made at the time of the previous somewhat smaller scale conflict in 2012. The lightness of the playful action makes us feel the relation between our domestic lives and its comforts and the violence that is inflicted in other parts of the world.

Perhaps it is not necessarily as a result of the production of domestic commodities but it is certainly a product of capitalism as a whole. We benefit whilst others suffer. This is all conveyed with frying eggs, children’s balloons, toddlers plastic trikes and the other paraphernalia of family life.

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Best ever Agit Disco album just republished on SoundCloud in August 2014

It is really great to see this important and little known album re-issued again on SoundCloud after twenty years. It was first issued as a cassette tape for those who frequented 56a Infoshop and its networks in South London. I was struck by its eloquent and radical lyrics and beautiful, inventive instrumental backing when I first heard it. Certainly it was the stand-out album of political songs of the Nineties in South London. I had seen Steve Cope perform his songs solo on a few occasions like at a St Agnes Place squat party, but these recordings of the songs with other talented local musicians frame Cope’s powerful lyrics with a musicianship that makes them works of art as much as heart-felt protest songs.

Each track on Soundcloud now has a carefully chosen image that adds something to the digital presentation that the analogue tape could not of course have. I wondered if this was the result of a particularly magical recording session but Martin says “It was essentially live music, so I never thought of the recording (on Fostex 8 track) as being exceptional, just a different thing.” Also looking at the cassette liner notes it looks like different tracks were recorded at different locations.

The song ‘Animals’ makes me cry every time I hear it. Such a passionate and

poetic song. My favourite of the whole album. It addresses peoples in-humanity in a deeply felt alliance with all animals, with nature even, against the violence of oppression and exploitation targeted by the callous few against the majority of people. It also works as a statement against cruelty to all life. For me it achieves a singular artistic statement that sums up the righteous anger that liberation needs. An important and necessary emotion that is hard to express most of the time. Its key chorus-line: “I’m with the animals” is spat out over a rolling and hypnotic bass rhythm. About 4 minutes in there is some brilliant growling trumpet playing by Martin Dixon that expresses the build-up of outrage in a way that reminds me of the expressive power of some of the best modern Jazz playing.

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A ‘French Agit Disco’, an annotated list of songs made by son and mother, Francis Haselden and Sharon Kivland, was offered for an ambitious Agit Disco benefit for London’s Housemans radical bookshop in April 2014, in response to the wider Agit Disco project. Agit Disco is an archive project. It refers to the ‘domestic’ record collections both in physical form in our houses and flats and in our memories. The process of selection is a critical process of second distillation. The first process occurs as particular records, CDs, and MP3s are bought or otherwise obtained from the mass of commercial commodities that reflects systemic interests or constructs a panoply of material which is not conducive to challenging these interests or thinking critically about them. Selectors produce their Agit Disco playlist. Intellectual processes of review, comparison, and evaluation bring into focus the themes and effects of this heritage of listening. Then a collaborative and communicative process happens. The playlist is produced as a real object, a ‘mix-tape’ that can be given, sent, heard by others, or imagined, finding its place in archives to be heard again when the right moment arises, perhaps with others, at a real disco, a party, an after-dinner session. The process generates proposals and statements, and it is important the tracks are liberated from systemic worlds of commodity and become part of another gift economy.

The French Agit Disco song titles and commentary were printed in a slipcase booklet that formed the cover of a plastic CD case containing an audio CD of the playlist. The first nine songs are organised into groups under the following genre sub-headings printed in red: Chansons (from 1957 and 1965), ‘Ye-Ye’ (from 1966 and 1967) and ‘a few chansons from May 68. These are then followed by two songs from 1979 and 1980, and then a final three from 2001, 2008, and 2011.The audio CD that accompanied the booklet was presented as a keynote to that event.

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The Scratch Orchestra’s Nature Study Notes’ performed at Chisenhale Dance Space on  Saturday 28th June 2014  7.30pm  64-84 Chisenhale Rd, London E3 5QZ  

Click to hear a recording of Nature Study Notes

Photos of the event by Martin Dixon are now  archived here:

‘The Scratch Orchestra’s Nature Study Notes’ – performed by an ensemble of original Scratch Orchestra members and new performers including: Jane Alden, George Chambers, Linn D, Carole Finer, Sharon Gal, John Hails, Bryn Harris, Les Hutchins, Robbie Lockwood, Geraldine McEwan, Matt Scott, Hugh Shrapnel, Stefan Szczelkun, Emmanuelle Waeckerle, Ali Warner.

Nature Study Notes is a collection of 152 written instructions or ‘scores’ that was published as a booklet by Cornelius Cardew at the beginning of the Scratch Orchestra in 1969. The scores are called ‘rites’ and were used in many of the early Scratch Orchestra concerts. This is a music improvisation and visual performance event about one hour duration.

One review leads to another:

radiant-rite-close

I must say, in hindsight, that the improvisation rites have an overall uniqueness – almost a new art form with elements of theatre, music, visuals – but amounting to something else. They have great variety (reflecting the individual character & preoccupations of the author) but an overall character (if this makes sense!).Hugh Shrapnel, 24-12-2013

 

We made a rough programme so that popular rites that people wanted to do at the same time or which specified a group performance, didn’t clash. Other rites to be played by individuals, duos or trios are not listed below.

Skeletal Progamme mark2

20.00 HMSIR 5 led by Hugh Shrapnel starts the concert. When this ends we do rite CCAR17 ‘accompaniment and solo’.

20.09 ABP 128 co-ordinated by Jane. ‘9 basic sounds’

20.16 CCSR 18 ‘elected soloist repeats an action’ Ali Warner leads

20.25 HSBR 34 ’six deep breaths’ (group version) led by Bryn. NB dispersed in time version led by Sharon.

20.27 CFIRNTFM 145 ‘flower piece’ co-ordinated by Carolyn.

20.29 DJ68 led by John Hails ’slow metamorphosis to a snarling mob’

20.36 CCRR 66 co-ordinated by Carolyn ‘radiant rite’

20.40 FRLMDP 47 conducted by George ‘musical notation’

20.48 CCAMMR 129 ‘Look upward, move backward’ ensemble version co-ordinated by Sharon

20.54 BHUSR 35 ‘sing our own song finale facing the audience in a line’ led by Stefan who will signal start.

c20.57 after completing your song return to the space and continue quiet or visual improvising.

21.00 quiet ending..

21.30 Take our leave.

There won’t be a programme as such at the venue so this gives some idea of what occurred for those that came and those that didn’t.

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