Music

Big mouth...

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Once again the singer Morrissey has plenty to say about immigration and British society. In a November edition of the NME, the magazine claims that he said, "The gates of England are flooded. The country's been thrown away."

Later in the same article Morrissey boldly declares, "With the issue of immigration, it's very difficult because although I don't have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears. If you travel to Germany, it's still absolutely Germany... But travel to England and you have no idea where you are... If you walk through Knightsbridge you'll hear every accent apart from an English accent."

Welcome to the revolution

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I might be a month late, but I think it is time to celebrate the October revolution. No, not the Russian one, but Wednesday 10 October 2007.

That was the day Radiohead released In Rainbows, an album not only available as a download, but - wait for it - the buyers decide how much they pay!

Yep, for as little as one penny you can get yourself an album by one of Britain's biggest bands. Thom Yorke, the band's lead singer, told a journalist, "We're not part of this big empire - it's trying to get away from that because it's the death of anything creative." But I wonder just how noble the band's aims are.

Playing for the Moment

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The Bays are one of the most exciting bands in Britain, with an innovative and unique sound. Yet you won't find their music in record shops. Band member Simon Richmond talks to Hannah Dee and Martin Smith.

You have made a choice not to make records. Is that because of a musical ideology?

There are two ways of looking at it, and we kind of like to have it both ways. On the one level it isn't really an ideology. It's what musicians have always done, which is perform and entertain. The recorded music industry is about 100 years old whereas performed music is as old as humanity. The choice to perform and not record is more in tune with what the spirit and essence of making music is all about.

Picket lines and songs of protest

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Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello talks to Martin Smith about playing at stadiums, demonstrations and coffee shops.

Tom Morello strolls into the hotel lobby wearing an IWW baseball cap - the International Workers of the World or Wobblies as they are more commonly known were advocates of militant industrial trade unionism in the early part of the last century. He also carries an acoustic guitar, with the slogan "Whatever It Takes" painted on the front. By any definition Tom Morello is not your average rock star.

Celebrating the Everyday as Radical Rap Goes Global

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When politicians want to confirm how magnificently out of touch they are with the real world, they'll make a comment about current music, probably hip-hop.

Some have complained that rappers are to blame for making teenagers violent, although surely if violence could be caused by music about violence, Tchaikovsky must have caused mayhem with his 1812 Overture. Nineteenth century Europe must have been awash with drive-by cannonings, and soldiers snarling "Prussian mothafuckah".

Even worse are those who try to embrace hip-hop, such as David Cameron, who you expect soon will tell us: "My shadow cabinet crew is well sick and ready to mash up Labour. You get me?"

The Sound of a Soviet Tragedy

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Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich was born 100 years ago. Simon Behrman looks at the music of an artist whose life was intertwined with the fate of the 1917 revolution.

The failure of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to live up to the hope it promised was the greatest tragedy of the last century. Its effects were felt not just in the politics and subsequent history of the 20th century but also in the art and culture that surrounded it. Dimitri Shostakovich occupied a central position in these events, and more than any other composer his music explores the hopes and tragedy of this period of history.

Morrissey and the Love That Dare Not Sing Its Name

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Today the pop industry can easily cope with artists who are openly gay, but can it cope with artists singing about men having sex with men?

Morrissey remains one of the most enigmatic and compelling figures in recent pop history. As the lead singer of The Smiths, arguably one of the most important indie bands of the 1980s, his poetic lyrics, romantic anguish, ambiguous sexuality and vision of a troubled and alienated Britain cut with many a sensitive soul. His solo career has followed a similar trajectory. But I want to start this column in a way that I don't mean to continue. The Morrissey of the past is someone I have loathed and hated, but at times sympathised with.

'Playing jazz is a form of resistance. It's about being independent and not conforming. But resistance can also mean standing up to authority'

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Composer and multi-instrumentalist Courtney Pine spoke to Martin Smith about how the battle against prejudice has been a backdrop to his musical career, and about his new album, Resistance.

In 1986 a 22 year old jazz musician from north London released his first solo album, Journey To The Urge Within. His name was Courtney Fitzgerald Pine. The album was a huge hit, breaking into the British Top 40, the first album by a British jazz artist to do so. It established Courtney Pine as a leading figure in the jazz scene. Twenty years later he has just released his 11th album, the critically acclaimed Resistance. He took time out from his 40-date tour to speak to SR about it.

A Country Divided Against Itself

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There's more radicalism in Nashville than you might think.

Country music, it ought to be agreed, can't be cool. Teenage kids in the Bronx are unlikely to rob passers-by for their Nike stetson, and you wouldn't increase your chances of getting into the most prestigious nightclub in town if you stood in the queue with a pedal steel guitar.

Power to the People

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Matthew Cookson uncovers John Lennon's radical past 25 years after his death.

John Lennon was murdered in New York 25 years ago. This year has seen a slew of articles about the former Beatle's life. One key aspect that few of the media remembrances touch upon is Lennon's radical politics, but these were integral to his music, particularly in the later Beatles years and after.

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