1). Since recently despairing at the state of the world, the theme is... political. What genre isn't important but it has to be chunky in content and hopefully great tunes which will inspire us to revolt, build new stuff and to tear down the old!
2). Later in the night as we have more drinks and want to lighten the mood lets try some philosophical or metaphysical music
Nina Simone - Mississippi Goddamn
I always feel shivers down my spine when she sings this powerful piece. Perhaps the song which reveals the most about Nina, she is playing the piano (as usual), it’s a great live recording which shows off her voice, its her own composition and most of all it expresses potently her stance on racism. Listen to it and fell it!
Roger Waters – Watching Tv
The whole of the Amused to Death album is excellent, fluid, political and complete. Its less inwardly focused then The Wall and stronger then The Final Cut. The music it self is compelling, interesting and when added to his spot-on political views and observations on the absurdity of much of human life it makes for music which is art.
Jah Wobble – A13From the album Without Judgment and it’s a rambling monologue on the bleak life which borders the English highway A13. Not that I would know but I find it a simultaneously amusing and sad commentary of all developed areas which lack humanity – areas which have mostly concrete, plastic, the mundane, the superficial and very little nature.
For the topic of politics and revolutionary music, I stuck within the realm of industrial music.
The first two tracks are from the legendary Ministry. The theme of attacking establishment, and specifically the then-presidents of the United States is common between the two, despite the tracks being written 14 years apart. The first, N.W.O., is a protest of the Persian Gulf War and mixes sound clips from, and directs it's attack at George H.W. Bush. The second track chosen, Rio Grande Blood, is the first track from the album of the same name. They present the album as the 2nd part of their anti-George W. Bush trilogy, and from the over-done, repetitive sound clips, it's easy to tell why. The band's signature sound, diving guitar and blasting, repetitive drum beats, is very evident on both tracks.
Next up I chose another industrial, but more electronic-based track from the very politically named, Birmingham 6. Strangely enough, they hail from Denmark. The track itself if not particularly political but keeps the industrial activist theme going while offering another view of the genre.
Lastly, I went with Skinny Puppy's VX Gas Attack from their fourth album, VIVIsectVI. This whole album has a lot to say about animal and human rights, pollution, chemical warfare, etc., and this is one of the best tracks I've heard to splice sound bites, synths, electronica and rock elements into one madcap, but intriguing piece.
I selected a couple of artistes from my formative years when lyrics of disappointment and dissent still stimulated an emotional response - probably the hormones. My first pick was from Senser. Musically engaging with heaps of energy, navigating a dangerous adventure in rap, rock, electronica, female vocal fusion. The anger at corporate hegemony, police state and societal imbalance drove the songs along and created some well composed, exciting outcomes. The lyrics might lack some of the hard hitting political edge I had previously associated them but the music still rocks.
Second act are the Levellers. Timeless songs with a decidedly crusty, celtic, scrumpy fuelled feel. Anti-establishment but with real heart. The songs are equally fantastic tunes to stomp around to in your DMs or sit at home, in middle age, with a bottle of gin and reflect that little has changed since '91 - apart from popular music going down the toilet along with many other principles we held dear. Viva la revolution!
Third offering for the small hours was chosen specifically on the merits of creating a melancholy and moody atmosphere. Ulver, from their marginally depressed, yet hopeful, electronica period do more for metaphysics and philosophy than words alone.
The first clip is fairly self-explanatory: an angry young rapper railing against the national health service
reforms in the UK.
The second is a bit more obtuse - a song by Elvis Costello about the Falklands war,
noting that it created work for working class shipbuilders in England while at the
same time encouraging their friends to go off and die just so Maggie T could get re-elected.
Ah politics where do we start?
I tried to avoid the heavy handed clumsy sloganeering that weighs down most
overtly 'political' music and focus on beautiful and moving music that
carries a wider message.
Marvin Gaye - Whats Goin' On
This is a song that at one time topped the NME's Best 100 Songs ever type
of list and I have to say that it has never really dropped out of my
personal Top 10. Written at the height of the Vietnam war it seems to
capture all of the pain and confusion unleashed by the social changes of
the period. Marvin is often more widely remembered for his 'Let's Get It
On' type of X rated soul-raunch but here just lays out all that emotion in
a poignant question that still echoes 40 years later.
Gil Scott-Heron The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Gil was a poet. He was fired up by social injustice and political themes
were always at the heart of his work. TRWNBT is arguably his most famous
piece and shot him to instant fame. The lyrics absolutely skewer every
possible sort of fake involvement and non-action with breathtaking wit and
searing caricature. Take a listen to almost anything he has done and it is
invariably heartfelt, witty, incandescent and poignant.