Don’t sack the DJ
Posted on October 5, 2009
I had a sudden rush of nostalgia when I read Laurie Penny’s recent post about the Daily Mail’s homophobia towards the right wing blogger Iain Dale, mainly because she gave an honourable mention to the Tom Robinson classic: Sing if you’re Glad to be Gay. The first album I ever bought was Power in the Darkness by the Tom Robinson Band, in fact I’ve still got it today, complete with the clenched fist stencil that came with it that you were presumably supposed to use for grafittiing on walls, an activity I of course have never been involved in: oh no.
Anyway, listening to that song again brought back some memories. Memories of the 80’s and life under Thatcher, and of the music that made up my own personal soundtrack of those times. I’m not talking here about Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet or any of the rest of that New Romantic shite that everyone cites when the subject of 80’s music comes up, but of the protest songs, songs with a distinctly political message that provided a backdrop to that era. Well, for those of us who were politically active at the time anyway.
So here’s my selection of favourite late ’70’s/80’s/early 90’s protesty tunes: feel free to add more in the comments.
Oh yes, and I’ve also got a request to make. It’s pretty clear now that unless there’s a miracle, the Tories are going to be back in Government again within the next 12 months: if they’re anything like the last lot we’ve got some interesting/crappy years ahead of us. So will someone please please sort some decent fucking music out!
Like this little lot. Enjoy!
Billy Bragg: Which Side are You On
Tracy Chapman: Talking ’bout a Revolution
Elvis Costello: Shipbuilding and Tramp the Dirt Down
Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms
Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin: Sisters are doing it for Themselves
Peter Gabriel: Biko
Linton Kwesi Johnson: Fite Dem Back
Latin Quarter: Radio Africa
Bob Marley: Get up, Stand Up
Prince: Sign o’ the Times
Rage against the Machine: Killing in the Name
R.E.M: Orange Crush
Sinead O’ Connor: Black Boys on Mopeds
Sting: They Dance Alone
The Beat: Stand down Margaret
The Clash: London Calling
The Communards: Breadline Britain
The Jam: Going Underground
The Redskins: It Can be Done
The Specials: Ghost Town
The Style Council: Walls Come Tumbling Down
Tom Robinson Band: Aint gonna take it
UB40: One in Ten
That’s a fucking fantastic collection of tunes.
The overall inference – you’re quite right, I think – is terribly sad.
fantastic choices – i really was going to get some chores done tonight, but all i want to do now is listen to protest songs.
a couple of suggestions
Green Day – Minority
and my current favourite song – Lily Allen sings
(Manchester Pride version)
You rebel! 🙂
You got through the eighties without listening to the Smiths Cath? And what about Adam and the Ants? At least you’ve got the Specials in there though. Put that on the juke box in the pub tonight in case there were any stray Tories about, along with Still Ill in case UKIP happened along – there were a lot of them trying to harass me as I struggled to work.
NB Adam and the Ants were much better than Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran because they didn’t take themselves so bleeding seriously. But really Cath, don’t you even like the Human League? (Also you forgot Free Nelson Mandela).
Polly, this was about music I liked. That’s why the Smiths weren’t included 😉
Adam and the Ants were good though.
Also if Sting comes back as well as the Tories, I think I might have to leave planet earth, let alone the country.
Same here. He was good in the early 80s though, and then he turned into a complete arse.
I hated Spandau Ballet. Hate, hate, hate. It’s such a stupid name, and their songs were stupid. I did like Duran Duran, though.
Almost all of the above, then;
Stranglers – No More Heroes
Faith Brother – Country of the Blind
Clash – White Man at Hammersmith Palais
Tracy Chapman – Behind the Wall
Midnight Oil – Beds are Burning
Simple Minds – Belfast Child
Pink Floyd – Money, The Flethcher memorial Home (2 of many)
Billy Bragg – The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions
What, no Au Pairs or Gang of Four?
The Au Pairs’ Armagh could do with updating I think.
You had proper music – my generation get the Pussycat Dolls 😦
I have already promised that I am wearing black if (OK, when, but still in denial) the Tories get in.
But you’re right – at least we might get some decent music.
Wow – the memories come flooding back – saw TRB at uni.. in ’77 i think
Here’s some other suggestions:-
Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5vCgtpY0Kg&feature=related
Simply Red – Money’s Too Tight To Mention
One Big Union
Nottingham Clarion Choir – Women of the Working Class
The Che Men (featuring Norman Strike) – Keep On Keepin’ On
Dick Gaughan – Workers’ Song
Steel Pulse – Handsworth Revolution
I don’t know about miracles, but somebody should have told Dave Snooty & his pals, that the over 50’s are the most active voters, so hitting that age group isn’t going to be popular. A few more booboos like that and we could even see a major upset.
(That and a few skeletons tumbling out of closets).
Quality list, Cath (although I’ll confess to raising an eyebrow at Dire Straits 😉
Chumbawamba/Credit to the Nation – Enough is enough
Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy”
New Model Army – 51st State
Or for extra angry days
New Model Army – Vengeance
And if that all leaves you a little overcome with adrenaline, please check this utterly sublime slice of (comparatively recent) wondrousness from the truly lovely Dave Randall of Slovo (& Faithless) with a bit of help from Charlie Chaplin – Empires Fall
And one more for good luck…
the Ruts – Babylon’s Burning
Nooo! Not U2!
Buggeration Ally, I meant to include the Ruts in the original list. Top choice.
And Kiz, U2, like Sting, were an entirely different beast back in the day to what they are now. I remember seeing them live at De Montford Hall in Leicester in around 83/84, and they were awesome.
Prefer Reggae Fi Peach -LKJ
Peace Love and Understanding – Elvis Costello
Back Home in Derry – Christy Moore
Free World – Kirsty MacColl
Waiting for the Great Leap Forward – Billy
Union Man – Neil Young
Killing an Arab – The Cure
Does this Train Stop on Merseyside – Merseyside
The World turned upside down – Dick Gaughan
Watching the Wheels – John Lennon
Public Enemy-Fight the Power
9-5 – Dolly Parton – listen to the lyrics B4 u lol
Nelson Mandela – Special AKA
Here We Go – Marchers/strikers/protesters and children everywhere of the aforementioned!
Pere Ubu – ‘final solution’
Suicide – ‘Cheree’
I can’t really remember the 1970s or 1980s. I was too busy trying not to turn into Haight Ashbury.
I like that because, it is beautiful and they are not fighting over money.
Here’s some more – of varying vintage but firm favourites:
Sweet Honey in the Rock – We who believe in freedom
Sweet Honey in the Rock – More Than A Paycheck
Curtis Mayfield -Move on Up
Ani diFranco -When I’m Gone
Bobby Darin – Simple Song of Freedom
Sam Cooke-A Change Is Gonna Come
Phil Ochs- Outside A Small Circle of Friends
Gasp , no Panic by The Smiths ???
People get ready -Curtis Mayfield
In the ghetto – The King
At 17 – Janis Ian
Machine gun – Jimi Hendrix
Star spangled banner – Jimi Hendrix
San Quentin – Johnny Cash
ps ; Need to recognise Robert Wyatt on the Shipbuilding song as well as Mr Costello .
I dont wanna get drafted – Frank Zappa
Heavenly bank account – Frank Zappa
We are the world – Richard Cheese : )
P Diddy – this is a Smiths free zone – please don’t breach that as it suits me fine 🙂
Fine, as Panic is P Diddy, and even though Cath sort of nicked her post title from it, it isn’t really a political protest song. The Smiths weren’t exactly political TBH.
I re-released Swinging Dors in the 1980s.
record cover of the week whenever it was released, and no matter how many times, it was a gatefold.