Brian Richardson

New New Orleans

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Review of 'After The Storm', editor David Dante Troutt, The New Press £13.99

"How could a loving god allow this to happen to so many people?"

In his foreword to After the Storm, Derrick Bell suggests that this question was posed by many bewildered people in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina last year. Heart-wrenching though the question is, it fails to address two fundamental realities.

Music Will Free Itself

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Review of Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble, Touring

Gilad Atzmon is arguably the most outstanding artist to emerge on the British jazz scene in recent years. He can hardly be described as new, having recorded nine albums in the past decade, as well as performing with musicians as diverse as Ian Dury, Paul McCartney, Sinead O'Connor and perhaps most bizarrely, Robbie Williams. It is in recent years however that his star has shone most brightly - firstly with the release of the 2003 BBC Jazz Album of the Year Exile, followed last year by the widely acclaimed Musik.

Bob Marley: Roots Revolutionary

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The 60th anniversary of Bob Marley's birth is a great opportunity to celebrate his inspirational music, writes Brian Richardson.

Legend is the title of the one reggae album that every broad-minded progressive is guaranteed to have in their record collection. The word has become somewhat devalued through overuse, but few terms could more aptly describe the Jamaican music star Bob Marley. His iconic status is cemented by the fact that he died at the tender age of 36. Since then, like another 'soul rebel' Che Guevara, his handsome face has been immortalised on the T-shirts and bedroom posters of millions of young people.

The anguish and the optimism

Style and Society: Say it Loud, Still Black and Proud

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Brian Richardson explores how black culture has shaped post-war society.

Walk down any major high street or into any youth space in Britain and before long you will be confronted by the unmistakable signature of black British style. A uniform of hooded tops, trainers or Timberland boots and unfeasibly low-slung trousers.

Calling All Anti-Racists and Anti-Capitalists

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A handful of albums stand out among the popular music industry's early autumn releases.

The first is in fact a 25th anniversary reissue of the seminal Clash album London Calling. This is a must have album for anyone who wishes to get a taste of the raw, angry and unapologetic energy that catapulted punk onto the British music scene at the end of the 1970s.

The Man in the Street

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Review of 'A Grand Don't Come for Free' by The Streets

As Socialist Review went to press, Mike Skinner, aka The Streets, was a hotly tipped favourite to capture the Mercury Music Prize, one of the British music industry's most prestigious awards. Either way, Skinner has enjoyed a meteoric rise since he first burst onto the scene in 2002. His first album, Original Pirate Material, also received a Mercury nomination, but was somewhat surprisingly pipped by Ms Dynamite. Subsequently he has been compared to Bob Dylan, Samuel Pepys, Dostoyevsky, Philip Larkin and 'Gil Scot Heron relocated to the [Birmingham] Bullring'.

Left Field Glastonbury

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Is popular music turning radical?

Posing this question is not simply an act of wishful thinking here at Socialist Review. Rather it reflects a genuine debate that is finding an echo in sections of the music press. For example, Mojo magazine's lead feature in April was 'One Hundred Great Protest Songs'. It included a blazing red cover with a picture of a militant looking John Lennon and the headline 'Revolution in his Head'. Elsewhere the Scottish Arts magazine Product ran a cover article entitled 'Protest Pop: How radical music rocks the world'.

Hip-Hop Takes the Rap

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Hip-hop has arguably been the most influential popular music form of the past generation.

Artists such as Jay Z, Nas, Eminem and Missy Elliott have become household names, while the production talents of P Diddy, Dr Dre and Pharrell Williams are in constant demand. Nor has this impact been solely confined to music. The 'uniform' of low-slung jeans, Timberland boots, expensive trainers and designer tracksuits has become de rigueur among youth from Brooklyn to Brixton.

Personal Best

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Review of 'In Black and White', Donald McRae, Scribner £18.99

Books about sporting celebrities rarely capture the attention of socialists, and perhaps rightly so. The vast majority are instantly forgettable chronicles of 'glory days' ghost-written for performers with no obvious talents beyond their speed, strength, stamina or agility.

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