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Tag Archives: agit disco

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This includes lots of my favourite ‘agit disco’ bands and tracks: Sleaford Mods, M.I.A., Patti Smith etc.

One final track is over the page on p.334 and was new to me. From this I learnt the meaning of “talmbout!” What a powerful ‘call to arms’ this track is!

19. Janelle Monae – ‘Hell You Talmbout’  (2013)

“This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves… Won’t you say their names?” -Janelle Monae

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Moichi Kuwahara seems To have a pirate radio show which is sometimes has a political bent. Shows are archived on Mixcloud.

https://www.mixcloud.com/m

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(I hope you don’t mind me using your graphic here Moichi?)

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
株式会社Pヴァイン内ele-king編集部
03-5784-1256
http://www.ele-king.net/

pp352
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:

https://szczelkuns.wordpress.com/…/french-agit-disco-2014/

and

http://archive.furtherfield.org/features/reviews/agit-disco-vs-zombie-apocalypse

but they are linked to in the afterword…  http://stefan-szczelkun.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/afterword-to-new-japanese-edition-of.html

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.

http://www.ele-king.net/books/006107/

 

 

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“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 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

https://youtu.be/r-Nw7HbaeWY

and LaDeeGaGa is another one (incredible performance!):

https://youtu.be/txXwg712zw4

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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-38908251

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)

http://www.thebookroom.net/agit-disco-building-a-better-world-exhibition/

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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.

Skepta is now top of the tree and his Konnichiwa album has protest songs (so says the BBC). But how long can you sing songs about being held by cops; when you are a slick hitmaker? The glamour, the people, the money, the need for minders that surround you… the busy schedule that steals your day away …. he may have got there by a DIY route and kept control late in the day. Will he be able to keep it real when its all red carpets and feigning models. I mean Puffy Daddy has run his own businesses for many years; there comes a point when DIY ceases to mean much. It was cute that just before his album started the Time Out rolled up this house and found it used as a storage place for his business. but even then he wasn’t sticking stamps on himself like wot real DIY publishing means.

How long is he gonna rap “The feds wanna shift man / Wanna put me in a van / Wanna strip a man / I ain’t a Chippendale / Wanna strip a male / Put me in a prison cell / Got me biting on my finger nails.” with any conviction?

The analysis will have to get more political, more theoretical, more abstracted from his personal situation. And probably threatening to his own pro feet ability…

Can integrity survive success? Can a radical message survive institutionalisation or being framed on corporate media?

But for now Ok this Tottenham boy wants people to ‘shed preconceptions’ that’s not bad thing. I’m reading Mike Hales book on ‘Thinkwork’ from 1980 and he had this idea of ‘pre conceptualism’ and it set me thinking about whether cultural works can reach out into that pre-idea stage of thinking. There’s a hope music or art might be able to get past the normalisation of our thinking as it enters onto cultural or intellectual platforms… But to do that it would have use very undercapitalised platform, autonomous underground venues, collectively run shows, illegal shebeens maybe, but not a gallery. How is it done? How is it done?

 

for more thoughts in this vein see my now FREE ebook…

This is more than a simple playlist; it’s a podcast programme with its own artistic value. Beautifully put together. Transpontine says: “Mix based on DJ set at  Housmans Radical Booksellers benefit at  Surya a while ago with  Stefan Szczelkun Paul Jam  Stewart Home Martin Dixon.  A mix I did a little while ago of music from the 1984/85 miners strike, with ChumbawambaNocturnal Emissions , Test Dept, Style Council and more…”

Someone with screen name ‘Protest Songs‘ has accumulated an interesting collection of protest songs on YT. Anti-war songs have been grouped by decade. There are also groups under subject headings like; activists, big business, change and discrimination.

I notice the website of STOP the War Coalition is collecting anti-war songs and has a side bar devoted to songs. Although their list of British songs to inspire the fight against austerity is a bit dated and looks like it has been put together by a set-in-his/her ways 50 plus year old.

http://www.may2015.com/ideas/the-10-greatest-political-songs/

New Statesman last year updated their more obvious 2010 list of 20 ‘top’ political songs with a new, more interesting and nuanced top ten of political songs but it seems to have been updated into May this year. Interestingly it includes a selection by Deborah Levy who I once knew and by chance I’m currently reading her poetic first novel ‘Beautiful Mutants’ which still contains many satiric word images that are as potent now as they were when written in the late Eighties. Find out what song Deborah chose here:

http://www.newstatesman.com/music/2010/03/top-20-political-songs

And to finish with here’s a less Establishment list from ‘Song Facts’ that as you might imagine is much longer!

http://www.songfacts.com/category-songs_with_political_statements.php

A good resource which led me to discover ‘Under Cover of the Night’, a rare political song by The Stones from 1983 with a video by Julien Temple.