Archive for Red Wedge

The personal is political and vice versa

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2016 by dazzlesoundproductions

I am deep into Image result for walls come tumbling rachelwhich is an oral history of pop ‘n’ politics from Eric Clapton’s notorious Brum rant* in 1976 to Thatcher’s third victory in 1987.  The story is told by those who were there which is great, there is no narrative except from those describing events unfolding.  You can see how a party line tends to develop in any organisation and these left-leaning ones are no different.  The fascinating clash is then between maverick musicians who just didn’t think like politicians and er, politicians.  Eventually, there develops an acceptable set of beliefs and whosoever does not share them is marginalised.  Some tragi-comic interludes in the book are one of the founder members of Steel Pulse being ejected because he would not embrace rastafarianism: Rock Against Sexism being comprehensively patronised by the right-on music press; the laughable attempts by the far right to create their own bands and Red Wedge never getting an album together because none of these good socialists could agree royalties splits.  Surely the solution was a live album?

Red Wedge was fatally hobbled from the start because it acted as the Labour party with guitars and could not accomodate anyone who had doubts about both Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock/Tony Benn/Arthur Scargill, which was quite a lot as it happens.  A lot of useful dialogue was started but always ended with an exhortation to vote Labour.  There was no attempt to reach out to the Greens or SDP or anyone else, everything was viewed through the prism of bi-partisan politics.  Oh and electoral reform was a dirty word.  The fact remains that a pile of excellent rousing music was produced by the individual bands within these movements and social attitudes shifted perceptively but as a design for life?  No.  I used to think “the personal is political” slogan was a pathetic cop out, start the revolution without me chaps.  Now I think it could be chiselled on RAR and Red Wedge’s headstones.

*You can find this appalling episode recreated on Youtube.  At best he has only ever half-apologised for this and I find it weird that it has been so expertly airbrushed away.  Also detailed in the book is the truth behind David Bowie’s salute to the crowd at Victoria Station the same year, verdict this time, not guilty, except of reading too many books about the Nazis.