Music

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.

Drumming Up a Desert Storm

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Charlie Kimber discovers an unlikely festival sensation.

He went into battle with a Kalashnikov in his hand and an electric guitar strapped to his back.' The man in question, Keddou ag Ossad, is one of the central figures in the history of a band called Tinariwen. It has become one of the most popular acts at festivals such as Glastonbury and Womad, and their albums are now reaching a global audience.

This is not some easy listening 'world music'. Their latest album, Amassakoul, still has the power and lyricism that have made them so popular.

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'.

This is for the Poor

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An Interview with Dominic Masters

In the last few months The Others have played a Love Music Hate Racism gig at the London Astoria, been declared 'the most worshipped new band in Britain' by NME, released their first single, 'This is For the Poor', and played a gig in a tube carriage. Alison Philcock talked to singer Dominic Masters.

The single makes a very clear statement. Where do the lyrics come from?

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'.

Sketches of Harlem

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Review of 'Romare Bearden Revealed' by the Branford Marsalis Quartet

A couple of years ago documentary film-maker Ken Burns made a widely acclaimed series entitled Jazz: A History of America's Music. It was part of a trilogy of subjects - the others being the Civil War and baseball - that examined the core elements that contributed to the development of US society. Jazz was chosen as the only authentic art form to originate in the US. However, the series was not without controversy.

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.

Putting the Diss in Dissent

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Review of "Sonic Jihad" by Paris

Paris first graced the airwaves in 1990 with his black nationalist, anti-establishment LP The Devil Made Me Do It. Two years later he cemented his name as one of hip-hop's most militant lyricists with Sleeping With the Enemy, which was originally due for release before the presidential election in 1992, but suppressed by the recording establishment until the November after the election. The album was shrouded in controversy, with one song in particular - Bush Killa, a revenge fantasy about the assassination of then-president George Bush Sr - raising ire.

No Big Brand

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Review of 'Goodbye Swingtime', Matthew Herbert Big Band, Accidental Records £13.99

Being any kind of conscious artist under 21st century imperialism is fraught with contradictory tensions. Aesthetics v politics? Art v propaganda? Individual v the masses? Local v global? Innovation v tradition? Particular v genre?

No Pipe Dream

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Review of 'The Unpeople' by The Unpeople

Music and politics are frequently fused. What is striking about the Unpeople is the sheer extent to which this is the case, their debut album marking a welcome return of agitprop - the open use of music as a medium for agitation and through which to deliver both a complex analysis and inspiring message.

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