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


Jim White gets around. When he's not releasing his own critically acclaimed solo albums he splits his time producing records for other songwriters, exhibiting his visual art in galleries and museums across the USA & Europe and publishing award winning fiction.

To mark 150 years as a performance venue, Brighton Dome is seeking memories from across its rich history. Submissions will help inform new heritage displays which will go on show when the refurbished buildings re-open in late 2018.

Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal has been chosen as the 2018 'big read' for children across Brighton & Hove and beyond. 

Son of Dave is fifty years old, and has lived for twenty-one years in the UK, hailing originally from Winnipeg Canada where he was steeped at a young age in the blues-bar tradition. 

The stand-up Jon Richardson is chatting from a rather unusual location. He reveals that,“I'm currently in the Aldi car park in Clevedon.” Who said that the life of a comedian isn't non-stop glamour?

A remake of one of Brighton's most iconic films, Brighton Rock, is set to take place this week on the 70th anniversary of the classic starring Richard Attenborough – and members of the public are invited to dress up in vintage 1940s attire and take part.

Brighton charity Same Sky has launched its crowdfunder for Burning the Clocks 2017 – an uplifting antidote to the excesses of a commercial Christmas. 
(c) Gone Fishing + Marathon Artists 2017

MMODE – aka Belfast brother & sister duo Lucy & Thomas Gaffney – have  announced that their self-titled debut album, MMODE, will be released next month.

The WWE bandwagon rolled into Brighton recently to deliver its quality brand of big names and even bigger action.
Pic by Ian Kelsey

It's not often a group of young men pool their creative resources to benefit the health and wellbeing of others. It's even rarer when those young men are musicians. But that's exactly what the Brighton-based collective, 40 Shillings On the Drum, have done with the release of their new single. The English Coast.

Direct from an extended season in London's West End, Bill  Kenwright's production of Alan Ayckbourn's farcical tale of matrimonial mishaps, How the Other Half Loves comes to Theatre Royal Brighton, this month.

Experience the whisper of stories, speaking of the Black Atlantic, singing of jazz and Harlem and the African American literary renaissance in As Waves of One Sea. 

Louise Redknapp rose to fame as a member of the girl group Eternal. She left the band to carve out a successful solo career achieving sales of over five million records with five albums.
Stereophonics (c) Andrew Whitton 2017

Twenty years after their debut (Word Gets Around) and six No.1 albums later, Stereophonics are set to release their new album Scream Above The Sounds, this week.

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