Category: Music & Words

Grassroots music & politics – 3

Tory time.

No explanations needed… very few (if any) creative people like the Tories, a party of destruction rather than creation.  There’s just so much evidence…here’s a selection :
Cassetteboy Cameron’s Conference Rap


The Common PeopleCommon People


Glasgow Thatcher death party song

 

NxtGenIDS Rap

 

The Common PeopleDon’t Stop Me Now


Frankenstein Sound LabWorkfare = Slavery


Ron Barry and the Night SweatsWe Hate The Tories


Taking from the Poor to Pay the Rich

Kick Out The Tories

 

Kick Out The Tories – Newtown Neurotics

As relevant now, sadly, as it was when first released in the early 1980s.

Lets kick out the Tories
the rulers of this land
for they are the enemies
of the British working man
and it shows,while that bastard is in unemployment grows
and it shows,in hospitals,factories and
the schools that they’ve closed.

Evil will triumph,if good men say nothing
evil will triumph, if good men do nothing
and it shows, while that bastard is in unemployment grows
and it shows, from Toxteth down to the Crumlin Road.

Lets overthrow them soon
cant you see what they’re trying to do
we’ll all be frying soon
Cant you see what they’re trying to do
lets overthrow them soon
cant you see what they’re trying to do
they just abuse their power
both black and white are being screwed.

Don’t believe every thing that you read in the press
don’t believe what you read

Grassroots music & politics – 2

Having started with the far right, now for the not quite so far right…the Labour Party.

Are musicians and creative people generally more likely to lean to the left, politically speaking ? It does generally seem that way.

Labour once had a good relationship with musicians – I’m particularly thinking of their engagement with Red Wedge, the collective of musicians who attempted to engage young people with politics in general, and the policies of the Labour Party in particular, during the period leading up to the 1987 general election, in the hope of ousting the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher.

Fronted by Billy Bragg (whose 1985 Jobs for Youth tour had been a prototype of sorts for Red Wedge), Paul Weller and The Communards lead singer Jimmy Somerville, they put on concert tours and appeared in the media, adding their support to the Labour Party campaign.

Artists who appeared at Red Wedge gigs included The Style Council, The Communards, Junior Giscombe, Jerry Dammers,Madness, The The, Heaven 17, Bananarama, Prefab Sprout, Elvis Costello, Gary Kemp, Tom Robinson, Sade, The Beat, Lloyd Cole, The Smiths, The The, Captain Sensible and the Blow Monkeys.

Which is a pretty good support base. It didn’t work though, and Red Wedge was formally disbanded in 1990.

I wonder how many of those would appear in support of Miliband ? Labour lost any credibility they may have still retained under Blair (despite desperate attempts to woo ‘Cool Britannia’) and I dont really think its ever going to come back. Tough shit, Ed.

There’s not even much in the way of anti-Labour songs out there… not in the same way as there is for UKIP. There’s one or two featuring Ed Miliband, but they are more speech cut-ups – well executed and quite funny, but without the vitriol and satire that fuels the anti-UKIP ones.

It’s a if we’ve been so disapointed by Labour that we cant even be bothered to heckle anymore.

I do like the bacon sandwich one, though.

Ed Miliband (feat. Queen): One Nation

Rap BattleMiliband, Farage & Clegg

Ed Miliband eats a bacon sandwich

It’d probably be unfair to drag Tony Blair into this…but, hey – why not ? This is a great video and neatly sums up the disillusionment Bliar left in his wake : “we could have been anything…

Goodbye, Tony Blair

Grassroots music and politics – 1

Here’s an idea… forget the spin-doctors and the mainstream media and instead explore the political landscape via the music it’s inspiring.

You probably won’t have heard much, if anything, of what follows. It’s not played on the TV or radio, the political parties themselves don’t know it exists and almost certainly wouldn’t care for it if they did – with one exception. There is one party who understand the concept very well – can you guess which one ?

This is folk music (small ‘f’), music performed by folk, singing about their concerns. For the most part it’s DIY recordings and videos, probably made on no budget at all in most cases, and released into the wild via Youtube and other sites.

It’s not-for-profit, its makes no money for corporations, it almost certainly wont be on your radio. But its inventive, satirical, funny, vitriolic and often thought-provoking. What else do you need ?

Once upon a time, protest music like this would have been the domain of either a person with a guitar (the folkie approach) or a band (the punk approach). Both would have had to use a recording studio for best results, press records or cassettes, and then have to distribute them.

It all took time and money.

Nowadays you can have a recording studio on your PC, record and mix your track and within minutes post it on the internet. Within an hour it could be heard by more people than you’d ever have believed possible in the old days.

What follows is a selection of these songs. They are mainly protesting against various parties or individuals – there are actually very few songs promoting political parties, and they are usually pretty dire – as an example I’d point you towards ex-Radio 1 DJ Mike Read’s ‘Ukip Calypso’, which had to be withdrawn from sale after claims that it was racist. I reckon it was the attempt to sing it in a fake West Indian accent that did it.

Ukip tried to salvage something from the wreckage by saying that all proceeds would go to the Red Cross to help fight Ebola, only for the Red Cross to reply;

“As a neutral organisation, we cannot benefit from something which overtly supports one political party.

“In addition, the Red Cross has a proud history of helping refugees and asylum seekers who are negatively referred to in the lyrics.”

Doh !

Read later told BBC London:

“People are very, very, very quick to take offence now at something that years ago would have been deemed to be a bit of satire and a bit of fun..”

Could this be the same Mike Read who in 1984 was instrumental in getting the BBC to ban Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” on the grounds that it was obscene ? I think it could.

For the record (sic) “Relax” subsequently shot to Number 1 in the charts, stayed there for five weeks, going on to enjoy prolonged chart success throughout that year and ultimately becoming the seventh best-selling UK single of all time.

Banning things rarely makes them go away.

Well, since we were talking about Ukip, I’ll start with selection of songs about them.

There are lots of them ! I’ve chosen a small selection of my favorites.

Interestingly, there are a lot of female artists recording anti-Ukip songs…make what you will of that.

Anyone who reads Private Eye will know that Ukippers tend to have a very low tolerance of satire directed against them, so perhaps they might want to skip therest.

The rest of you… enjoy !

Who Put The U In UKIP? – David Goody


(Dont) Vote Ukip – K Pizz

 

Fab Farage: A UKIP Odyssey (featuring Stella)

 

The Daily Mail UKIP Song

 

Ukip – Jonny & The Baptists


And my favorite…

Lets put the blight back into Blighty
Like the Dark Ages, but more white-y
Song For UKIP – Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

 

To be continued…

 

Fuck off back to Eton – Alnwick ukulele player Robin Grey gives reasons for David Cameron serenade

The ukulele player who shot to stardom this week with a swear-filled serenade for David Cameron has called for political change.

East Londoner Robin Grey, who grew up in Gosforth, spoke out a day after expressing his dissatisfaction for the Prime Minister with an adhoc song in Alnwick, Northumberland.

The 34-year-old folk singer, maths tutor and charity worker was in Alnwick as part of a cycling holiday.

He explained:

“I was cycling down the hill into Alnwick, having spent a while in Northumberland National Park, and I was cut up by a big blue Conservative Party coach – I couldn’t believe it.

“Then a lot of people got off with balloons and David Cameron was among them. It was so strange because it was just them, and no ordinary people.

Robin Grey playing his ukulele 

“I was gobsmacked and took my bike over to the other side of the road. I thought, ‘what can I do?’ I didn’t have any eggs and didn’t want to get arrested. I could have shouted but that is boring.

“So I grabbed my ukulele and played the first thing that came to me.”

He proceeded to tell the Tory leader, who was attempting to drum up support for the party’s Berwick election candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan with a 15-minute walkabout, to “fuck off back to Eton”.

Robin said:

“I consider myself to be an activist. The more I travel round the country the more I see what people have in common – they want to see change happen.

“I hadn’t rehearsed the song. I am used to picking up by ukulele in primary school and playing, and I have worked at the Edinburgh Festival too so it comes easily.

 

“I am amazed at how popular the video of my song has been. Looking back I probably could have come up with some better lyrics, like addressing him on the NHS, but at the time I knew I wouldn’t get another chance so I just kept going.”

A security guard told me not to swear because there were children around so I did a cleaner second verse.”

He added:

“Change is needed and as more people start to get their information from less obvious routes and media sources, the ruling elites are losing control and cannot keep telling us what to do.

“After Alnwick, I headed up to Seahouses to my nanna. She was supportive of me making mischief and she knows it comes from a good place.”

With the help of his ukulele, Robin’s causes include the closure of tax breaks for corporations and the super rich, the re-nationalisation of the railways and utility companies, the provision of singing and music lessons for all schoolchildren, scrapping of bedroom tax, and a ban on fracking in the UK.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 Apr 2015

Anti-Austerity Comedy To tour north East In Run-Up To Election

An anti-cuts comedy featuring sketches, songs and stand-up will tour the region in the run up to the General Election.

The Accidental Activist has been storylined by North-East playwright Ed Waugh, whose national and international comedy hits (co-written with Trevor Wood) include Dirty Dusting and Maggie’s End, which involved the death of Margaret Thatcher.

Newcastle-based stand-up comedian John Scott and South Tyneside-based comedy writer John Gibson have provided additional funnies to a show that has the backing of the Durham Miners Association, the national RMT union, Durham & District NUT and South Tyneside UNISON.

John Scott, who writes for and hosts a monthly show called Sod the Tories, at the Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle, said:

“Ed came to see Sod the Tories and thought it was great. I asked him to storyline a play against the cuts and he came up with the Accidental Activist.

“John Gibson and I added our bits and we have a show that will not only make people laugh but will also make them think.”

He added:

“We’ve called on Russell Floyd from EastEnders, The Bill and Maggie’s End to star and direct, and have enlisted top North-East actresses Rachel Adamson, an award-winner in the play Motherland, and Sammy Dobson, who was in Byker Grove and Joe Maddison’s War.”

The story is about how comedian Johnny Snowball (Russell Floyd) wants an easy life but, confronted by more government austerity measures, reluctantly enters the battle to fight the cuts.

The production will be staged at The Stand Comedy Club, Newcastle (0191-300-9700) on April 27 and 28;

The City Theatre, Durham (0191-384-3515) on April 30;

 Westovian Theatre, South Shields (0191-454-4167) on Friday May 1
The Dun Cow, Garden Place, Sunderland, (0191-567-2262 or 07854-048155) May 2

All shows start at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10.

> Ticket price unfortunately makes it a luxury item for many people actually on benefits.

Wot, no concessions for those on benefits ?

Source –  Durham Times, 19 Mar 2015

As a jobcentre adviser, I got ‘brownie points’ for cruelty

Former jobcentre adviser Angela Neville has written a play to expose the harsh reality of the benefits sanctions regime.

Angela Neville, 48, is describing events she witnessed as a special adviser in a jobcentre that prompted her to write a play about her experiences.

“We were given lists of customers to call immediately and get them on to the Work Programme,” she recalls.

“I said, ‘I’m sorry this can’t happen, this man is in hospital.’ I was told [by my boss]: ‘No, you’ve got to phone him and you’ve got to put this to him and he may be sanctioned.’ I said I’m not doing it.”

Neville worked as an adviser in Braintree jobcentre, Essex, for four years and has written a play with two collaborators, her friends Angela Howard and Jackie Howard, both of whom have helped advocate for unemployed people who were threatened with benefit sanctions by jobcentre staff.

The title of the play, Can This be England? is an allusion to the disbelief that she and the others feel at how people on benefits are being treated, she says. And she unashamedly describes the play, in which she also acts, as a “dramatic consciousness-raising exercise”.

Can This be England? deals with the quagmire that awaits people caught in the welfare system. Scenes are set in jobcentres and in characters’ homes addressing some of what Neville calls the “everyday absurdity” of what occurs, such as when people with disabilities and fluctuating health conditions are wrongly declared “fit for work” inflicting additional suffering in the process. It also examines the dilemmas faced by staff in jobcentres, many of whom Neville believes feel stripped of any power to do good and are crumbling under the strain as managers enforce new rules.

Full story in the Guardian

Source –  Benefits & Work,  03 Feb 2015

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3006-as-a-jobcentre-adviser-i-got-brownie-points-for-cruelty

Man uses humour and music to have a pop at council

A community campaigner has become an online sensation by using the power of song to vent his frustration at council decisions.

Hundreds of people have watched tracks that poke fun at Durham County Council, which were written and posted on the internet by comic singer and ukulele player Alan Prudhoe.

The retired local government officer was one of 2,700 people who objected to the demolition of the former Tudhoe Grange School in Spennymoor, County Durham.

They wanted Durham County Council and Spennymoor Learning Community Trust, which owns the site, to try to find a buyer to save the 1912 landmark brick building.

But both organisations said it was unlikely to sell whereas the cleared land would generate cash for education in the town so decided to press ahead with demolition, which is currently underway.

The authority said it would have cost £3m to repair Tudhoe Grange – the same figure it quoted to fix up five care homes it shut, the stately home and former school Windlestone Hall in Chilton which many believe was sold off cheap and the restoration of Wharton Park in Durham which is ongoing.

 Observing the pattern, Mr Prudhoe, from Hett, near Spennymoor, penned and recorded The £3m Repair Song and put a video of his performance on YouTube.

The 70-year-old, who worked for Durham County Council for more than 30 years, said:

“With the school we felt there was inadequate consultation and public opinion was ignored.

“I’ve lots of experience and feel as a public service the council is totally out of control, decisions about a huge turnover and lots of residents are made by too few officers and cabinet members.

“My songs are a means of communication, I’ve always used comedy to get a message across and this is a way of engaging people and venting my frustration.

“I never want to offend anyone, I don’t think the internet and social media are there to make personal attacks and I never sing anything I wouldn’t say to a person’s face.”

 Mr Prudhoe has been in bands since the 1960s and is a member of the Stockton to Darlington Ukulele Express.

His council jibes are far from his first online musical hit, as there have been more than 5million viewings of his performances on YouTube and he has a significant following in Peru.

Durham County Council chose not to comment.

Source – Northern Echo,  24 Jan 2015

Hartlepool novelist finds inspiration in punk

A crime fiction writer who hails from Hartlepool is celebrating after the release of his latest novel.

Paul Brazill, 52, has brought out Guns of Brixton, which is inspired by a song by 70s punk band, The Clash.

Paul describes the book as Punk Fiction, and says it part of a series of books with each drawing inspiration from song titles from the punk era for the book titles and chapter titles.

Paul, who now lives in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where he teaches English, said:

“Punk was a very influential time for a lot of people of my generation.

“It was the first social network for a post 60s generation who felt let down by a country that should have been blossoming but was stagnating.

“Punk brought about social change and for a while democratised the music industry.

“It seemed as though anyone could form a band and make music that had an awaiting audience.

“A similar revolution is happening in many industries today because of the advent of digital and the internet.

“Ironically music has not really evolved as it should have, but f and other industries are seeing a broad acceptance of skilled and talented people who prior to the internet would never had had their voices heard.

“So in a way the internet is the new punk revolution that brings radical change to the masses.”

Prior to moving abroad, the former pupil of Hartlepool’s Rift House, Lynnfield and Dyke House schools lived in London for 10 years after leaving Hartlepool in the early 1990s, where he was a welfare rights worker.

His latest work is published by Caffeine Nights Publishing in paperback and eBook.

Source –  Hartlepool Mail, 02 Jan 2015