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Tag Archives: agit disco

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/

AGITDISCOinfarnham.jpg

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.

This blog is to signpost news of agit disco related events and stories that come to my attention though daily media. It does not mean that I agree with he viewpoints offered. Obviously the BBC World Service tends to have a ‘benign’ paternalistic imperialism behind what it does and does not say.

I find the story of the ‘Halal Rappers’ interesting because it shows a flexible and adaptive approach to making culture rather than one that is hidebound by convention.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02v4y97

or try YouTube direct: https://youtu.be/4JMbqSZ42so?list=PLQesuWE5KRGxpSrOD251uO1WhBlgXcDbr

On another side of another coin are the Russian rappers which might be seen as a détournement of local racism by rapping pro Putin!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30153955  or

https://youtu.be/6AqE_yT1XuM

Another one of a Vietnamese rapper living in USA doing agit disco stuff:

BBC blurb “Son Nguyen A.K.A. ‘Nah’, a young Vietnamese rapper studying in the United States, has launched a scathing criticism of Vietnam’s Communist Party. ”   https://youtu.be/8SNESJQ4at4?list=PLQesuWE5KRGxpSrOD251uO1WhBlgXcDbr

The world is full of contradictory tactics.  Am I serving imperialism by lazily picking up on BBseize establishment voice? Maybe… I’d appreciate hearing of more direct sources!?

Vinyl Therapy lets people play three tracks on the theme of the month – This month it was politics! photo(1) photo(2) the tracklist for #vinyltherapy Politics (2/5/15) London was:

Gianna ‘The Ballad of Ho Chi Minh’ Ewan Macoll ‘The Times They Are a’ Changin’ Brothers & Sisters ‘Fight the Power’ Public Enemy

Worth ‘For What It’s Worth’ Stapel Singers ‘Political Science’ Randy Newman ‘I Spy (for the FBI)’ Jamo Thomas

Simon ‘Synthetic World’ Jimmy Cliff ‘Lie Down and Be Counted’ Neil Innes ‘Abraham, Martin & John’ Marvin Gaye

Marc ‘Oh Bondage! Up Yours!’ X-Ray Spex ‘Venceremos – We Will Win’ Working Week ‘Struggling Man’ Jimmy Cliff

Carmel ‘I’m Going Left’ Syreeta ‘Clean Up THe Ghetto’ Philadelphia All Stars ‘Takin’ It To The Streets’ Doobie Brothers

Gill ‘Diet’ Au Pairs ‘Little Hitler’ Everything But The Girl ‘Children of the Revolution’ T-Rex

John ‘Get Up Stand Up’ Big Youth ‘Inner City Blues’ Grover Washington Jr. ‘Funky President’ James Brown

Kim ‘Graffiti Limbo’ Michelle Shocked ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ Joan Baez ‘You Haven’t Done Nothin’ Stevie Wonder

Sally ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang’ Heaven 17 ‘News at Ten’ The Vapors ‘White Riot’ The Clash

Christine ‘Hard Times’ Human League ‘Somesay’ Wah! Heat ‘Sweet Talking Guy’ The Chiffons

Rachel ‘Part of the Union’ The Strawbs ‘I’m Alright Jack’ Tom Robinson ‘Big A Little A’ Crass Eva ‘Glad to be Gay’ Tom Robinson Band

Pete ‘Johannesburg’ Gil Scott Heron ‘Right On Be Free’ Voices of East Harlem ‘Hell’ James Brown

Billy ‘This Is Your’ Captain Sensible ‘Floating Anarchy Radio’ Here & Now ‘Kill For Peace’ The Fugs

Clive ‘How Can a Poor Man Live Such Times?’ Blind Alfred Reed ‘Outlaw’ Eugene Macdaniels ‘Mao! Mao!’ Claude Channes Maya ‘Keep On Keepin On’ Redskins ‘Babylon’s Burning’ The Ruts ‘English Civil War’ The Clash

Bryan ‘Wind of Change’ Robert Wyatt & Jerry Dammers ‘Breadline Britain’ Jimmy Sommerville ‘Handsworth Revolution’ Steel Pulse

Lisa ‘Margaret on the Guillotine’ Morrissey ‘Good Evening Mr Waldheim’ Lou Reed ‘Belfast’ Boney M

Matt ‘The more that I see (the less I believe)’ Fun Boy 3 ‘Comrades’ Test Department ‘Economics’ Bumbites

Mick ‘If a Peanut Framer can do it (so can I)’ Ed Townsend ‘Get Involved’ George Soule ‘I’m Backing Britain’ Bruce Forsythe

Wayne ‘Dirty Laundry’ Curtis Mayfield ‘Independant Intavenshan’ Linton Kwesi Johnson ‘Same Song’ Israel Vibration

Ian ‘The Last of England’ Simon Fisher Turner/Derek Jarman ‘Bonzo Goes to Bitburg’ The Ramones ‘Kennedy’ The Wedding Present

Rod ‘Nixon’s The One’ Kathryn Duffy & The Enemies ‘(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People’ Chi-Lites ‘Revolution’ The Beatles

Andy ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ DJ Lebowitz ‘Jerusalem’ Mark Stewart & The Maffia ‘I am the fly’ Adam Sky

Denise ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ Johnny Cash ‘Kill The Poor’ Dead Kennedys ‘Forward To Death’ Dead Kennedys

******** Extras included: ‘Elected’ Alice Cooper ‘Crazy Baldhead’ Bob Marley & The Wailers ‘I hate Hate’ Razzy & The Neighbourhood Kids ‘The Message’ Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five ‘Gonna Be a Showdown’ Archie Bell & The Drells ‘Harlan County’ Jim Ford ‘Autonomy’ Buzzcocks ‘Cunts are still running the World’ Jarvis Cocker

Their archive of past events:   https://thelisteningcure.wordpress.com

Coming up to the election we have quite a few Agit Disco groups gunning for the charts:

Video above is from West London DIY Creative Collective Dovetown.

https://theefaction.wordpress.com/the-war-of-position/

Cassette Boy + Russell Brand are putting out:

not only but also let’s not leave out:

IMG_2789

At last! I got to hear a live set by the great Mancunian Johnny Crescendo, who was over from the uSA, in the basement of the NUT HQ in KingsX, London. Celebrating 25 years of struggle for inclusive education marked by the ILEA publication of ‘Disability Equality in the Classroom: a human rights issue’ that was put together by Richard Rieser and Micheline Mason. and first came out 25 years ago.   <a href=”http://worldofinclusion.com/res/deinclass/text_only.pdf&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>worldofinclusion.com/res/deinclass/text_only.pdf</a>

Johnny was playing with his long term accompanist Ian Stanton who also doubles at being a technician as and when – sometimes quite a balancing act! Their album is on iTunes. I couldn’t find him on YouTube with good quality sound.