Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

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 www.brightonfestival.org for more info.


by: Andy Sturmey




Share    


Shooshh is arguably Brighton's most popular beach nightclub. The pandemic left the club and its team with the constant challenge of reinventing itself to adapt to new rules wherever it was possible in order to survive.

Africa in the Lounge returns for another series of concerts drawing on musical traditions from across Africa. The next shows will be streamed live on Youtube and Facebook from Ooosh! studios in Brighton, on 23 and 30 April.
Credit Erin Hambly

Drug Store Romeos formed at college in Farnborough when childhood friends Jonny and Charlie pinned an ad about finding a bassist for their new band to the school's notice board - Sarah replied and quickly proved herself a better vocalist than either of them.

Multi-award winning theatre ensemble Rhum and Clay are bringing their latest critically acclaimed production, The War Of The Worlds, to Worthing this May.

The Blind Cupid Shakespeare Company has teamed up with Brighton based project Quarantine Kids Storytime to produce short form audio dramas of Shakespeare's plays. The collaboration aims to deliver classical content made accessible to young audiences and those new to the Bard.

Philippe Cohen Solal (Gotan Project) and Mike Lindsay (Tunng) continue their audio, visual and digital exploration of America's most celebrated Outsider artist Henry Darger, with the next instalment of the project.

The registered arts charity Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival has received two grants to help the organisation recover and reopen over the next few months. 
Credit Jamie MacMillian

Author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE took time out to explain what it's like to return for a second time as Guest Director, and what's in store for this year's very different, but as ever eclectic, Brighton Festival 2021.

Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie has teamed up with solo artist and Savages vocalist Jehnny Beth to release the album Utopian Ashes. 

Kavanagh are the epitome of unsigned, DIY rock'n'roll. With a fearsome live reputation, they have won two national Battle of the Bands competitions and have toured the UK. Based in Brighton, they featured on the I Am Not Your Slave compilation album of unsigned talent from the South East. 
Credit Taylor Jewell

In the final weekend of lockdown, Charleston invites audiences to tune in online for a bite-sized version of the annual Charleston Festival.
Credit Holly Whitaker

Drawing influence from a wide range of eras and genres, Brighton-based troupe Genn have released new EP Liminal. From the opening bass ostinato of its first track Feel to the hooky refrain of closer Falling Out, through rock'n'roll, psychedelia and funked-up, post-punk vibes, Liminal is a veritable rollercoaster journey.

Brighton, today, became the first UK city to launch a multi-arts festival since lockdown. 
Credit junodreamband.com

Quintet Junodream - who play The Prince Albert, Brighton, later this year - possess a rare flair for infusing their immediately compelling alt-rock with an abundance of creative sonic embellishments

Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd