Kevin McCaighy

Rock in a Hard Place

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Metal as a genre of contemporary music is still derided across the world, despite being one of the most commercially successful styles of popular music since its birth in the late 1960s.

Orlando Crowcroft details what this most demeaned style of music continues to mean to fans in six of the most war-ravaged and hostile countries: Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine, and Syria.

The Invention of Angela Carter

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Since her untimely death in 1992 there has never been a full length biography of the English writer, feminist and socialist Angela Carter. Thankfully this first foray into biography by author Edmund Gordon manifestly rights that wrong.

Carter famously described herself as “a born fabulist”, and Gordon takes that as his cue to deconstruct many of the myths that have sprung up around his subject, delineating Carter’s deliberate reinventions of herself with unprecedented access to her diaries, letters and manuscripts.

Walls Come Tumbling Down

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The social and political turmoil of the Thatcher/Major era and the cultural responses to these challenges lie at the heart of this oral history of three interlocking periods of recent British history.

Walls Come Tumbling Down is essentially three books in one. The first deals with the extraordinary rise of Rock Against Racism in the late 1970s, forged from a music fan’s outrage at racist remarks uttered by guitarist Eric Clapton into a national movement that enabled thousands of people to find their political voice and express their creativity for the first time.

Hopelessness

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In a year that has seen many great artists pass away, those still living and working among us can be overlooked. One such artist is Anohni, whose work under her former group Antony and the Johnsons has attracted international acclaim with albums such as the Mercury Prize-winning “I Am a Bird Now” and “The Crying Light”.

Her dramatic, other-worldly vocal style and intimate music have previously inhabited the world of torch song popularised by the likes of Marc Almond and the dark glamour of her mentor Lou Reed. But Anohni has undergone a remarkable transformation.

The Complete Alan Clarke at the BBC

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The films of writer/director Alan Clarke are some of the most forceful, passionate and challenging in the history of British cinema and television.

Most of his acclaimed work has been unavailable to the public ever since his untimely death in 1990. Thankfully, the British Film Institute has released a definitive reissue of 23 BBC television dramas spanning Clarke’s remarkable 30-year career.

Joe Hill

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The mythic status of union organiser, songwriter and class warrior Joe Hill has tended to obscure the truth about the man himself and the times in which he lived. It is to the great credit of the author Franklin Rosemont, sadly now deceased, that he mounted this definitive account of the life and achievements of Hill.

Culloden/The War Game

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At a time when historical programming consists almost entirely of royalist sycophancy and “celebrities” ambling around ruins, it is instructive to recall the early works of radical film-maker Peter Watkins. Both Culloden (1964) and The War Game (1965) were commissioned by the BBC under the aegis of Huw Wheldon, then head of the BBC’s Documentary Film Department when BBC 2 was still in its infancy.

Kill the Messenger

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For the past 40 years the films of Alan J Pakula have defined the genre of the conspiracy thriller. The Parallax View and All the President’s Men depict the sinister, secretive world of the intelligence community and its covert activity brought to light by crusading journalists to a grateful nation.

Kill The Messenger is a forceful rewriting of the genre. A true story, it is a powerful indictment of government collusion and media complicity in the destruction of a fearless principled journalist who uncovered the story of his life and pays the ultimate price for doing so.

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