Music

Workers' Liberty summer camp 2019

Published on: Wed, 14/08/2019 - 11:36

Fifty friends and supporters of Workers’ Liberty gathered in the hills of West Yorkshire for our annual summer camp on 8-11 August.

Although storms were forecast, socialists of all ages enjoyed wild swimming in a nearby waterfall, hiking, trips on the canals and steam railways of the surrounding valleys, football, and our annual pub quiz and talent show.

Longtime socialist Bruce Robinson ran a presentation on African Jazz; we learned about the history of Esperanto in the European workers’ movement; and we enjoyed talks from Deliveroo strikers, Nama’a al-Mahdi the Sudanese revolutionary

Blues Power

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2019 - 09:12
Author

Barrie Hardy

Right-wing politicians always have great difficulty trying to get support from anyone with artistic integrity. In the Thatcher era, when numerous talented musicians sang up for the Labour cause under the banner of Red Wedge, all the Tories could cobble together were talentless tosh like Vince Hill, Jim Davidson and Mrs Mopp. Similarly, the Trump Presidency from the world of showbiz have been decidedly threadbare. Apart from the odd aged crooner or obscure country artist, the chief White House favourite has been the despicable Ted Nugent – NRA nut and serial slayer of North American wildlife

Dirty Old Town

Published on: Wed, 12/12/2018 - 13:59
Author

Sean Matgamna

A vast number of popular singers have by now recorded Ewan McColl’s song “Dirty Old Town.” Luke Kelly, Liam Clancy, Esther Offarim, The Pogues, Rod Stewart (in Las Vegas!), Paddy Reilly, Van Morrison, Roger Whittaker, Julie Felix, and many others.
It is sung by Manchester United supporters at football matches. (Salford is part of Manchester).

It is a good song, I think. It was made in 1949 for performance at London’s Unity Theatre, an ancillary organisation of the British Communist Party (CP).

I met my love,
By the gas works wall.
Dreamed a dream,
By the old canal…
I heard a siren,
From the

Hugh Masekela 1939-2018

Published on: Wed, 14/02/2018 - 12:34
Author

Bruce Robinson

South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela died aged 79 on 23 January following a recurrence of prostate cancer. He was famous internationally for his playing and singing; for blending South African musical styles with jazz and pop; and as a prominent anti-apartheid activist. Born in Witbank, a mining town near Johannesburg, Masekela started his musical career in a school run by the British anti-apartheid priest Trevor Huddleston.

After seeing a biopic about jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke, he agreed to stop getting into trouble at school in exchange for learning the trumpet. He then became part of

A soundtrack for the movement against Trump

Published on: Wed, 08/03/2017 - 11:41
Author

Bas Hardy

Found dead people in the forest Tallahatchie River and lakes
The whole wide world is wonderin’
What’s wrong with the United States

What’s wrong indeed! Lyrics from the Staples Singer’s Freedom Highway recorded twenty five years ago still resonate. It’s now the closing track on the second solo album of Rhiannon Giddens.

Her latest collection of songs lay bare the condition of Afro-Americans from slavery days to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Although the thoroughly reactionary Trump regime trumpets the “threat of terrorism”, the black population of North America has lived in a state of

Real soldiers do feel sad

Published on: Wed, 08/03/2017 - 11:30
Author

Carrie Evans

Last week saw the drop of Stormzy’s debut album Gang Signs and Prayer . Whilst the whole album is beautiful, brave and ambitious, it’s a bit of a grower and maybe not what most grime fans were expecting. It deals with themes of black identity, love and spirituality in a way mostly unheard in grime before.

One track, the final one, above all others, has been causing waves. Lay me down is a heartbreaking, complexed ode to depression. The track is not just about Stormzy’s experience with mental illness, but also the underlying pain of being from a working-class background in London; of growing

100 years of jazz on record

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2017 - 13:46
Author

Jim Denham

It was fortunate for both jazz and the phonograph industry that their emergence co-incided: the improvisational music that is jazz was caught in its early days by the phonograph, and jazz repaid the industry a million times over in sales of music that owed its existence to early jazz.

It is generally accepted that the first jazz records were made in New York on 26 February, 1917. The band was the Original Dixieland Jazz (or “Jass”) Band from New Orleans, and the records were Livery Stable Blues and Dixie Jass Band One-Step, which were released as the two sides of a 78 rpm record on 7 March

Belligerent but beautiful songs

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 11:48
Author

Janine Booth

When I grew into adulthood in the 1980s, the Tory government's onslaught saw us staring into a bleak future unless we fought back. So we did, and our fightback had a soundtrack.

The better-known voices of that soundtrack — the Paul Wellers and Billy Braggs — are still playing to this day. But one of the less known, and to me one of the best, died last month at the too-young age of 60.

Billy Franks led the Faith Brothers, writing belligerent but beautiful songs of working-class lives and battles, and playing them to an ardent congregation who lived those lives and fought those battles. Their

"Act natural, whatever that means for you"

Published on: Mon, 30/05/2016 - 02:46
Author

Daniel Randall

Daniel Randall reviews Aesop Rock's The Impossible Kid (2016, Rhymesayers Entertainment)

It's difficult to know how to describe Aesop Rock to someone unfamiliar with his work. There are so few other rappers, or writer-artists in any form or genre, who are anything like him that it's difficult to think of an adequate frame of reference. Let's try this: the barrage of imagery and refracted cultural references that characterise his current lyrical register is redolent of Thomas Pynchon, and his increasingly narrative and character-driven lyrical approach echoes Slick Rick, a rapper he has

Bread and Roses - an evening of Socialist Feminism in Newcastle 2 May 2016

Published on: Wed, 04/05/2016 - 00:07
Author

Anthony English

With a spiraling list of performers and an unconfirmed set-list, our evening celebrating all things socialist and feminist was beginning to make Live Aid look like a lot of fuss about nothing.
However, as history has so often taught us, triumph can be found lurking in the jaws of disaster.
So it was that on a bank holiday Monday at The Cumberland Arms in Ouseburn, a veritable feast of music, poetry and drama unfolded before us.
Two prominent themes emerged as the each performer/speaker regaled us with their own unique perspective on the role of feminism in shaping the class struggle.
Firstly,

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