Where have all the flowers gone?

Hurriers-Album-CoverMark Perryman of Philosophy Football reviews the new wave of rebel music

It has become almost a mantra, there’s no protest music any more, discuss. In the mainstream maybe, though Beyoncé for one by following up her embrace of feminism with the message that the Black Panthers matter seems to confound even that. The trouble for musos of a certain age is that the rebel rock of yesteryear, from Guthrie to the Clash, existed in a popular culture almost entirely different to the one any musical rebellion of today has to navigate its way round. So how to make the connections to the past whilst remaining meaningful , not to mention musical, in 2016? Continue reading

A manifesto of good reads

Extreme CentreMark Perryman of Philosophy Football selects his reading for the 2015 General Election Campaign

The much-missed indie band, well by some of us of a certain age, Sultans of Ping, had a great line in one of their barnstormer numbers “I like your manifesto, put it to the test ’tho.” We are told in all seriousness that this is the most important General Election, ever, yet it will be fought between the three parties of the mainstream with ever-decreasing differences in their politics. Most important? Not in those terms, the importance lies almost entirely in the busting apart of the Westminster cartel, the centre this time really won’t hold.

Veteran rebel, aka 1960s ‘street fighting man’, Tariq Ali proves the durability of a countercultural idealism. Tariq’s new book Extreme Centre is a splendid denunciation of the battle for the middle ground and never mind the rest of us. Continue reading

The transforming power of music education

Geordie symphony school orchestraAnyone with doubts about the transformative power of music could not have have come across the work of the Venezuelan Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra or the work done with music education in Soweto, South Africa. It is enough to listen and watch a little of the music made by children, many of whom come from deprived backgrounds to see that this could not happen without serious personal engagement on the part of the young musicians.

Music is a part of virtually everyone’s life and often a major part. It is ubiquitous. Any given individual may spend days without reading a book, looking at a painting or listening to poetry. But music, well that would be hard to exclude. The ubiquity of music has its downside. Often it is used and even created for purely commercial reasons. Powerful commercial interests in the music business, advertising and venues regulate a great deal of the music that is made, although fortunately their tentacles do not reach every form of expression – I can enjoy some pretty good music-making in my local pub along with others keen to give their attention to what the musicians have to offer. Continue reading

Labour should sing again

Labour conference singingWhen I wrote “A Pleasant Change From Politics”: Music and the British Labour Movement Between the Wars over a decade ago, the one thing I spent very little time thinking about was whether there was a strong case for Labour to still be using music today. It seemed obvious that we would be too busy analysing data, targeting swing seats and filling in voter ID records to hold an evening concert, or make sure we had a verse or two of the Red Flag at meetings. It seemed obvious that the early 21st century was a time when there was so much competition for people’s free time and leisure that the labour movement had to stick to its primary purpose. It couldn’t hold people’s attention for long enough to perform other roles.

In 2014 I’m no longer so sure. Continue reading