Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Sunday 08 May 2011

33 Revolutions Per Minute: Billy Bragg Guests As A History of Politics In Pop Came Under Discussion

As far back as works by the jazz singer Billie Holiday, the American folk of Woody Guthrie, through to Elvis, and Bob Dylan, protest songs have connected with worldwide audiences.
Poly Styrene Remembered

This subject was tackled during day two of Brighton Festival 2011, at the Pavilion Theatre as part of the Books and Debate programme.

Introduced by Luke Bainbridge, Associate Editor of Observer Music Monthly, and joined by Dorian Lynskey, author of new book 33 Revolutions per Minute, as well as everyone"s favourite alternative rock musician and political activist, Billy Bragg.

From the off the debate was insightful and based around Lynskey's book; to which many references and anecdotes were made during the hour-long debate.

Especially interesting were Bragg's musical influences - which helped shape his songwriting - The Clash, Ramones, Dr Feelgood and The Jam all played their part.

Bragg related his experiences dealing with his involvement in the punk movement of the 1970s, his attendance at the Rock against Racism gigs in London – which were in response to the rise in racial conflict and growth in groups such as the National Front.

Later in his career, he was deeply involved in the Miners' Strike gigs and Red Wedge political collective, which included like-minded musicians such as Paul Weller and Jimmy Somerville.

The author went on to highlight an array of good and not so great musical protest songwriting; including diverse artists such as U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday through to M.I.A, Green Day and even the Pet Shop Boys.

Songs highlighted as bad examples of protest song included Live Aid's Feed The World and Michael Jackson's Earth Song.

It was argued that pop music is a 'flimsy vehicle' in which to convey political and social comment, but an important one, and also the lack of political comment in modern music.

Many artists write about political issues; however few are willing to debate issues when given the opportunity.

Questions were opened-up to the audience; someone asked about why the current urban music scene made more political references than the current indie and rock music scene - to which Bragg related back to the West London punk scene from the 1970s where rock music fused with reggae and events such as the Notting Hill Carnival were born.

The debate concluded with an audience member commenting on the lack of female artists in the protest arena, with Bragg quick to mention and pay respects to X-Ray Spex singer Poly Styrene, who died recently.

Dorian Lynskey and Billy Bragg were available afterwards to sign copies of 33 Revolutions per Minute.

The Brighton Festival continues until Sunday 29th May. See for more info.

by: Andy Sturmey


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Last year marked the 40th anniversary of Paul Weller's first album, In The City, which he released with The Jam in May 1977.

In anticipation of International Women's Day and to mark the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act - which gave many women the vote in UK for the first time -  Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA), Brighton, will host a panel debate on women in creative leadership.  

Brighton's contemporary art gallery Fabrica has launched a crowdfunding appeal to rescue its finances in light of recent funding cuts which threaten the organisation’s future. 
Peace Pic (c) Jonnie Craig 2018

Indie rock quartet Peace have released stand-alone track, Power, a unifying anthem between the band and their fans at their notoriously raucous and tribal live shows; this is Peace 2.0; new label, new tunes and a sure fire statement of intent from the four-piece.

The Netherlands has been chosen as the lead international partner for The Great Escape who will be working alongside the Dutch Music Export to highlight the country's most prominent rising stars.

The Love Supreme Jazz Festival, the UK's only major greenfield jazz festival, today announces a host of acts confirmed to perform at this summer's event, which returns to Glynde Place in East Sussex from June 29th – July 1st 2018.

Split Britches present an up-to-the minute topical interactive show which takes unexploded ordnances as a metaphor for the unexplored potential in us all - particularly elders – and tries to uncover it. 

Albert Hammond Jr's new album Francis Trouble explores a deeply personal topic – the stillborn death of his twin brother, Francis, and the lingering effects that event has had in his life and music. 

Punk. Funk. Rock. Soul. The main ingredients in a potent witch's brew that the Bellrays have been mixing for a long time now.

Brighton Unitarian Church has been awarded a grant of £227,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore its endangered classical Greek frontage, which dates from 1820, and is one of the city centre's finest landmarks.

Star of BBC's Live At The Apollo and The Mash Report, Geoff Norcott takes to the road with his new show following a sell-out season at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Chris Difford is a rare breed. As a member of one of London's best-loved bands, the Squeeze co-founder has made a lasting contribution to English music with hits such as Cool For Cats, Up The Junction, Labelled With Love, Hourglass and Tempted.

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