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Saturday, 8 January 2011

Where Is The Soundtrack? continued....'Toxteth Ablaze'

So we find ourselves in a new year, but let's begin with one last reflection on 2010.

The nice thing about this Blog is that it has grown organically, from what started out as a way of sharing new and well-established Indie Pop and our hopes of creating music videos for new artists or for our favourite older tracks that had never been blessed with any kind of visual accompaniment, to our eventual dream that we may even one day become a Record Label of sorts. And on that sunny, warm April evening when we plotted the creation of the ~Streetlamp~(which on this snowy, freezing night seems another world away) we never really though of any kind of political stance shining through our writing.
But things change....
And the gloves are off!!

It must go without saying and must be obvious to anyone who reads our meanderings that the one recording that shook us to the core in the first year of our Blog was 'The Flats' by Mariel McCormack and Marie O'Hara a.k.a. Botched Fairytale. Like the greatest records we've heard in our lifetime, it didn't just entertain us, it moved us, it motivated us, it reinvigorated us, and it awoken within us a political passion that we hadn't felt in a long time.
Back in the halcyon days of, say, 1979-1984, nearly all of the music we listened to, in fact nearly all of the music released, had some kind of political bent. In the immediate post-punk days it was practically bespoke to have some kind of political agenda within your pop music. Look at Madness. Look at The Specials. Look at Dexys. Look at virtually ANY Indie or left-field recording artist of the time and you'll see it's all there. For these were difficult times and a new Right Wing poison was seeping through the nation at the time. It shaped the political landscape and in turn the musical landscape.

We were too young to fully appreciate the bolt form the blue that was 'Anarchy In The Uk'; we were also still a little to young to fully understand the relevance of 'The Feeding Of The 5000', but by the time bands like The Redskins told us to 'Kick Over The Statues' or 'Bring It Down(This Insane Thing), or The Newtown Neurotics suggested we 'Kick Out The Tories'(see Griff's Blog) we got it completely and records became missives from the frontline.
Many songs, even ones like 'This Charming Man', became clarion calls to arms as we forged our own identities and standings. It could even be argued that Sarah Records made political statements; check out Matt & Clare's sleevenotes and fanzines, or the sleeves of any record by The Orchids which were usually draped in anti-Thatcher, anti-Poll Tax rhetoric.

But where has it all gone?
Who is making the statements now?

Some may argue that the likes of Radiohead or Coldplay fight the good fight....pffftttt, my arse!! It took Thom Yorke to make a solo album(the remarkably good 'The Eraser') to make any outright political comment. And as for Chris Martin's pseudo-bollocks lyrics and scrawl all over his me a favour!!
There just doesn't appear to be anyone, especially on any kind of major label, who are willing to take any kind of stance. Griff has already posted two Blogs asking where the soundtrack to these uncertain times is. Who will step forward? Who will speak out? Who will take arms against a sea of coalition troubles?

And the music doesn't necessarily need to be overtly aggressive. Take the piece of music I have come here to write about tonight....'Toxteth Ablaze' by Martin-A-Mel-O-Tone.

Now Martin-A-Mel-O-Tone is in fact Martin Dempsey, veteran of the Liverpool Post-Punk era, and as his nom de plume suggests was once a member of The Mel-O-Tones who recorded John Peel favourite 'I Walked With A Bugs Bunny Bendy Toy'. The track we've chosen to feature here was a track he gave away to the 'Raging Sun' compilation album in 1985. It's actually a piece of ambient music(no....wait...come back!) over which is a sound collage from the Toxteth riots of 1981. Despite it's ambience, this is one of the angriest sounding pieces of music I've ever heard and it gives me goosebumps listening to it. We also made the video that accompanies the track here.

So who's up for it? Who's up for soundtracking these times?
We need the anger and the unrest back in our music!

Is there anybody out there?


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