Skip navigation



I remember seeing Tom Robinson performing ‘Glad to be Gay’ around 1978 in a pub in Fulham. It’s hard to imagine in London nowadays – but the effect was electric! I can’t imagine any similar effect from Arca performing ‘Faggot’ but – who knows? I probably need to study the album the track come from ‘Mutant’.

Like book here pls:





e.g. Eliane Radigue – Stress Osaka (1969)

P.S. There’s nine more above. The idea is to choose something new I learn and illustrate it with a uToobe link.

Details via:

AgitDiscobook ele-King

Out from 野田努(ele-king)
150-0031東京都渋谷区桜丘町21-2 池田ビル2F

ISBN 978-4-907276-92-8
Three copies of the Japanese translation of Agit Disco have arrived. It is a Very beautiful edition! Superb book design!
All in all much more comprehensive and complex than the British edition. I’m impressed by the footnotes they have added to each playlist which I can only imagine they make the esoteric, mostly London network, nature of it accessible to a wider audience in Japan. These notes make it a valuable cultural history of a period of the London music/art underground, as well as the more international Anglophone references of the playlist contents.
The 10 ‘bonus’ Japanese selector playlists are a great idea. They are in a section at the end of the book that is printed on cream paper. There is some English so I can read most of the tracks have been chosen. I’ve put images of these above this post. (or click on the selector’s names below)
They have used my (new) long Afterword which gives update agit disco tunes that drifted across my media screens from 2008 though 2016. Lots of links to eg ‘Music of the miners Strike’ mix by Neil Transpontine.
The book is in black and white but they used the CD graphics with the original playlists to funky effect. Fragments of these graphics are used in a collage form to create the cover design with a woodcut/screen print look. There is an orange silk place-keeping ribbon which reflects the orange splash used on the cover. All very cool.
I’m SO pleased with the result.

The new Japanese selectors are:
Hiroshi Egaitsu, Kizu Tsuyoshi, Kurihara Yasushi,
Kuwahara MoichiSakamoto Mariko, Koya Suzuki with Love Kindstrand, Brady Mikako,
Masato Matsumura, Yosuke YukimatsuItaru W. Mita,

Good that writers in Japan were actively engaged as selectors! You can follow the name link to my short comments on parts of their playlist and a photograph or two of their pages.

Its a  pity that the new edition couldn’t have included:…/french-agit-disco-2014/


but they are linked to in the afterword…

The new Afterword basically a concentrated summary of the agitdisco posts I’ve done since the UK book came out… here and on Youtube!

Agit Disco Japan cover art

Conclusion: Of course there are many other questions that may or may not have been answered by these new selectors. It seems that the Hardcore Japanese punk bands in the 1980s had a level of protest – examples are SS, The Stalin and GISM. Was/is hip hop and rap absorbed into J-Pop without any of the oppositional content of global non-commercial hip hop culture? Going back further, what about those early ‘hippy’ era experimental bands like Les Rallizes Dénudés?

The post-war peace settlement seems to have had a dark shadow of USA cultural imperialism attached to it. For instance, I understand that it was only around the year 2000 that pop songs were sung in Japanese. Perhaps such subtle imperialist pressures stymie working-class musics and are the reason that Japanese people have insisted that there is ‘no Japanese protest music’.

The original English selectors were mainly my own contacts with others added who were friends of friends. So the British group of selectors probably had some cultural values in common. I have no idea how the Japanese selectors came to be assembled or who invited them to contribute; I was not involved. Anyway the point is that, whether they knew each other or not, they have a completely new approach to the idea of Agit Disco. This adds to the genre busting diversity that was one of the values of the first edition.



I just learnt about a big group that is signed to SONY – Everything, Everything. Their latest album A Fever Dream is out and the BBC kindly does a feature on them. The odd thing is that every single song that they write is ‘political’.

There is even a ‘subversive’ narrative built into the publicity: “it’s worth noting that Everything Everything have always dressed up their angst in a cathartic explosion of melodic pop.  That’s how they sneak songs like Cough Cough (about greed for oil), My Kz Ur Bf(airstrikes) and Night Of The Long Knives, [which refers to Hitler’s bloody purge of the Nazi party in 1934,] onto daytime radio.”

They seem to reflect an politicisation of their young audiences who will sing along with many of their songs in concerts.

I’m reading ‘Managing Democracy, Managing Dissent: Capitalism, Democracy and the Organisation of Consent’. edited by Rebecca Fisher. This  book argues that such phenomena commodify critical political thinking whilst at the same time aggrandising ‘market’ principles and commodity values. But I think it must be a little edgy. There must be a chance that the fans of ‘Everything, Everything’ might just think their way outside of the lyrical box provided by these pop songsters and demand and end to the facade that capitalism throws up as culture. I think that the group are taking grassroots radical demands and making them more moderate and mainstream.

“The hegemonic system tends to co-opt dissenting groups through commodification of subcultures and the active expansion of neoliberal projects that limits politics to ‘what works’ within an increasingly international and privatised economic framework.” p.131 Carroll and Greeno.


“Darcus Beese OBE, President, Island Records and son of prominent British Black Pantheractivists, Darcus Howe and Barbara Beese, explains why music was critical to this movement and shares a selection of tracks which reflect this.”

This is what we used to call recuperation; notice the TATE branding! Its pretty full on though and in the context of a show that many people admire as including the most political work of the time. The w word oppression is used… I guess the Tate wouldn’t see themselves as ‘oppressors’ and it will be interesting to see if reviews bring class into the analysis.


In depth contributions to local musics to be welcomed! Autumn of Love great book!


For much of the 1960s, students at the College of Technology (Polytechnic from 1969) and Art College pretty much ‘did their own thing’, separate from us kids from the city, but from late 1967 there was a variety of ‘experimental’ projects, that some of us enjoyed (and that I’ve written about in the new book) the most visible of which was the Dance of Words in May 1968.

I guess it’s Sod’s Law – but also very interesting – that just a week after the launch of Autumn of Love, Mick was contacted by Jeremy Ensor one of the two students who ran the Dance of Words and the Arts Workshop, to correct a couple of things I’ve written in the past and to offer more information.

I’ve also been in touch with Stefan who was involved in the Arts Workshop and I plan to publish updated accounts with…

View original post 34 more words


Brandon Spivey just recommended this book so it must be good – on growing up as a working class boy.

also whilst we’re on books this book on sound systems and politics looks good.

And here’s an event that will be, should be, filled with younger muso-journalists.

on Thursday, 20 July 2017 from 19:00 to 21:00 BCA Brixton

Aspirations for “unity from the roots movement in order to respond to the politics of social exclusion led by government institutions.”


In this piece by Mark Savage we hear, again, that “Pop is getting a long overdue dose of politics.” but this is really a piece about Jodie Abacus who is a good soul singer who is, let us say,  Commercial Hot POPerty. The article is little more than a puff piece. The song in question his latest single:

“Called Keep Your Head Down, it tells the story of a family fleeing a war zone, only to be met with fear and suspicion in the country they had thought would provide safe harbour.”

Which is worthy, I’m not saying it isn’t, but just two points:

1. Music by working class people, including those operating under ‘labels’ like pop and rock, has always been heaving with political intent and content from the ground UP – BUT its just a matter of what we are a-LOUD to H-ear. What is Broad-CAST into ouR homes without any effort on our part. That was the point of the Agit Disco project, just to show what a ‘shed load’ of political musics are out there. If you go looking. If you become a SELECTOR.

2. If you tread a commercial path the impact of your political lyrics becomes swathed in high value smooth production values which trades off the emotive impact of a raw criiiiAYYYY from the streets with more widespread AIR-play.

This goes for MIA whose has very right on political songs in syrupy pop settings. The mixing is super skilled B U T

and LaDeeGaGa is another one (incredible performance!):

and wee StorMZy (a man from my part of town) Will he hold out with this kind of raw power? I hope he can. The forces out to moLLy coDDle us are powerful.

Almost forgot to blog my own Agit Disco dispersal event at Farnham. It was the closing event for the Working Press archiving exhibition ‘Building a Better World’ in the magnificent library social space. The Agit Disco project had arisen organically from the music chapter in 1993 The Conspiracy of Good Taste (Free Download new illustrated edition here)


Using the tiniest record deck in the world that was wired up to a more hefty portable college sound system. It managed to cause a rumpus in the library with the Head Librarian loving the arrival of music (studies) whilst one of her staff was bristling about volume and distraction to the upper reading rooms. They had a little set to and the head of Library had to give the other a stern order to put up and shut up!

The Working Press archive book on the round table above is available for free download from here ‘RISE’

It was a small event but a good crowd with selections from Susan Merrick and Emmanuelle Waeckerle.

“In the month leading up to the U.S. presidential election, Dave Eggers, the author, philanthropist, and founder of the satire site McSweeney’s, enlisted a number of musicians across genres and disciplines for what would become the “30 Days, 30 Songs” project, a vocal gesture against a Trump presidency.” Rob Arcand   via

I totally missed this until now.


“unite to coordinate action?”  Its difficult to distinguish capitalist rhetoric from old anti-capitalist words that, as soon as they have wide currency are immediately monetised (and that include Bitcoin versions.) by having their meanings reassigned for new purposes.

“…neoliberal protest music — “30 Days, 30 Songs,” like Third Eye Blind, Green Day, John Mayer before it — has come to seem better suited for sharing and agreement among the like-minded than the sort of direct action upon which protest music was once established. The liberal “folk-political” song, steeped in nostalgia for the mass radicalization of the 1960s, invokes an era defined by collective action while serving mostly as a substitute for action itself.” Rob Arcand

What are we to make to this?

Rebecca MCarthy (see Third Eye Blind link above) “Protest songs are out in force: look at Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” Beyonce’s “Formation,” J.Cole’s “Be Free,” Kanye West’s “We Don’t Care,” Lauryn Hill’s “Black Rage,” even Childbirth’s “I Only Fucked You as a Joke.”