Liz Wheatley

Political music

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Music often has something to say about the world we live in. Sometimes it simply reflects that world, good and bad, but sometimes it goes further, commenting on it and, on occasions, trying to be part of changing things and actively engaging with movements and society at large.

Love and Friendship

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Love and Friendship is based on an unfinished novella by Jane Austen. Called Lady Susan, it is written as a series of letters and is thought to be one of her earlier works, although only posthumously published.

The film, adapted by Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco), is a beautifully shot period piece that you wish was longer than its 90-some minutes.

Lady Susan, played by Kate Beckinsale, is recently widowed, short on funds and increasingly frowned upon for her affair with a married man.

HITNRUN Phase Two

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Unlike September’s poorly-received Phase One this surprise end-of-year release is a step away from digital production and back to the classic funky analogue sounds that Prince does so well.

This is not an entirely new album. Some of the tracks have been released already and can be found for free online, some have been performed in recent live shows and some are from Prince’s archive of thousands of songs he has previously recorded — but it doesn’t suffer for all that.

Black Messiah/The London Sessions

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I’ve been a fan of Mary J Blige, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, ever since What’s The 411? came out in 1992 and so was eagerly awaiting her latest album, The London Sessions. It promised something a little bit different from the Grammy Award winning singer. Then D’Angelo dropped his new album Black Messiah with virtually no warning. I’ve waited 14 years for this to come out, ever since his acclaimed 2000 album, Voodoo. Sorry, Mary!

I'll Take You There

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Reading this book in the month of Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson it’s tempting to ask if anything has really changed in the US in the 100 years since Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples was born.

Working in the Mississippi cotton fields as a teenager, by his early 20s he had, like many others, migrated to Chicago and started working in the stock yards and factories. But those migrating found another form of segregation. There may not have been legal segregation, but they mostly lived in the South Side of the city and faced economic discrimination.

Music review

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Free Angela (Larry Saunders); The World Needs Changing (Ace Records); Liberation Music (Flying Dutchman Records)


At the end of 2013, Free Angela was reissued and two other compilations were released, all attempting to reflect the music of Black America in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Angela Davis was one of the best-known Communist Party activists in 1960s and 70s America. The then-governor of California, Ronald Reagan, tried to have her banned from teaching at any California university.

Sounds Like London

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Lloyd Bradley, Published by Serpent's Tail at £12.99

"Stand for long enough on any street corner in London, and you'll hear music. Chances are, these days it'll be black music of some description - dub step, hip hop, grime, reggae, R&B".

Split into three main sections ("They come over 'ere....", Nobody's going anywhere and Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner), Sounds Like London is a trip through the last 100 (well, 94) years of the influence of black music on London life.

The Last Days Of Detroit

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Mark Binelli

In 1927, as Henry Ford's Model A car rolled off the assembly lines, his River Rouge car plant in Detroit was the largest factory in the world, with 93 buildings, 16 million square feet of floor space and over 120 miles of conveyor belt. Detroit was the fourth largest city in the country and the population had doubled to almost a million in a decade as workers migrated for unprecedently high wages. Everything looked good.

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