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DAVE RANDALL TALK ON POLITICAL POWER OF MUSIC AT SALFORD WCML
 

Star date: 16th July 2017

NOT TO BE MISSED TALK ON MUSIC AND POLITICS

Dave Randall Talk On Political Power of Music
Wednesday 19th July 2pm free
Working Class Movement Library

Dave Randall, former guitarist with Faithless, Sinead O'Connor and others, has written the book Sound System: The Political Power of Music, which looks at everything from Rock Against Racism to Rave, to the Arab Spring, the US Civil Rights Movement and more. On Wednesday afternoon Dave is giving an illustrative talk on the subject at the Working Class Movement Library. Unmissable!

Full details here...


Dave Randall - Political Power of Music  Dave Randall - Political Power of Music Dave Randall - Political Power of Music
click image to enlarge

So, a teenage Dave Randall is sat at a festival when onto the sound system comes Free Nelson Mandela by The Special A.K.A.... "I had no idea who the hell Nelson Mandela was...but I knew by the end of the first chorus that I wanted him to be free" he recalls 

"That had a profound effect on me, so I went away and read, not only more about South Africa, but it was a eureka moment generally" he adds "It sort of planted this seed of an idea that maybe the future is unwritten, and that maybe ordinary people like me can have some say over what happens next..."

It was music that turned Dave onto politics, and, as he became a professional musician, a guitarist playing huge gigs with Faithless, Sinead O'Connor, Dido and others, that link became a source of inspiration.

It's resulted in a book, Sound System: The Political Power of Music that shows how proper music can have proper power if part of a wider political movement. Dave documents it from Beethoven to Beyonce, from punk and reggae to rave, to the Arab Spring and the US Civil Rights Movement.

He'll be doing what he calls an 'illustrative talk' on Wednesday afternoon at the Working Class Movement Library, complete with videos and his guitar, in what he promises will be a fun afternoon.

The principles of the book will ring true with anyone who thinks music should be about more than a bit of bopping, a shallow fashion trend and a way to get into someone's knickers. Which leaves out most of the musicians themselves...

"Musicians are a broad church" Dave explains "There's some good ones and some less interesting ones. They are pulled in different directions by different agendas and also the situation in which they find themselves. So, generally, the pattern you see is that if an artist has been political at the beginning of their career, as they become more successful often they move towards the right...

"That's not always the case but a famous example would be Bono I think: he starts off talking about British state terrorism in the Sunday Bloody Sunday song and ends up cosying up to George Bush" he laughs "Beyond people like him there's also all sorts of musicians who appear apolitical. But for me it was very different. It was music that got me interested in politics and that interest has only grown and deepened over the years."

The classic example in recent times is Rock Against Racism, which appeared at the time when it was almost becoming ok to be racist and fascist, as bands flirted with Nazi imagery and Spandau Ballet came out with shit like 'We play white music for the white working class kids...'

"There was this pivotal moment in British culture which, by all accounts, was on a knife edge as to whether it would tip over to the right into racism, as the NF were a growing force on the streets in '76, or whether good sense would prevail and we'd a have generation of decent anti-racists" Dave explains

"There's a lot of credible evidence to suggest that the common sense of a generation was steered towards anti-racism precisely by Rock Against Racism; precisely by that conscious intervention into popular culture by activists" he adds "and it was mainly punk and reggae which was associated with working class rebellion and that's significant too."

Bands like Steel Pulse, Stiff Little Fingers, Tom Robinson, Bob Marley and loads of others knitted overtly political lyrics with current sounds that became anthems... 'If left is right, then right is wrong' (Tom Robinson)... 'Stand up for your rights' (Bob Marley)... 'Alternative Ulster, grab it and take it it's yours' (SLF)... 'Handsworth revolution' (Steel Pulse)...

...add in The Clash, Johnny Rotten, X Ray Spex, The Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello and a whole load of others and you had two huge Anti Nazi League carnivals and a zillion gigs all over the country pushing DIY political messages that shaped the psyche of a zillion kids. Even the mainstream music inkies had to get on the case to keep up.

From that seminal time to rave, which Dave reckons had parallels to disco in that it was an attempt to "create a new sense of community" for young alienated kids. However, unlike music around the US Civil Rights Movement and punk and reggae, rave wasn't tied into a 'broader political movement', apart from some anti-Criminal Justice Bill marches, and was thus ripe for big business exploitation...

"Before we knew it, we had the expensive super clubs, celebrity DJs, the VIP areas" he explains "So the money men behind it had taken something which was implicitly critical of the economic order, that was a kick back against corporate capitalism... they switched it around and made it just a part of the corporate machine."

And now? Where's it at now? X-Factor, Pop Idol, manufactured bands and corporate crooning?

"Overtly political music has never gone away" Dave says "This is quite an interesting moment because you're having more artists who, perhaps, are not talking about the fight against the fascist bosses in the same way that Woody Guthrie or Billy Bragg had done; but I do think there are a number of artists becoming popular who are talking about the real concerns of ordinary people and the day to day struggles that we all face."

He namechecks Kate Tempest, Sleaford Mods and some of the grime MCs, like Stormzy and Akala lending support to Jeremy Corbyn, and Potent Whisper, who is involved in housing campaigns in London amongst other top things...

"I'm optimistic" he concludes "There is some overtly political music around and I think more is undoubtedly on its way because we're living this time of political polarisation. It's sometimes scary but also an exciting time to be alive..."

If a quick chat on the phone is anything to go by, the Dave Randall talk on Wednesday afternoon is going to be unmissable. Because Dave is no rusty academic – he's been there, done it, played huge gigs, mixed with pop royalty...and come out the other side with his political bollocks intact...


Dave Randall Talk On The Political Power of Music
Wednesday 19th July 2pm -3pm free

Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent M5 4WX

For further details see the event Facebook page – click here

And the book Facebook page – click here

Sound System: The Political Power of Music by Dave Randall is published by Pluto Press. There will be books available to buy at the event

To read about Dave Randall's full background and check out his music see his website – click here

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