Protest?! & 12/11/2012 ‘Protest+’ tracklist

Where have all the memorable protest songs gone? Or, to be more precise (because the old protest songs aren’t just blowin’ in the wind, they’re still in people’s consciousness), what has happened to the creation of memorable songs voicing opposition? Looking at the tracks selected for this week’s focus on protest, it’s evident that nothing is from the last twenty years – no anti-invasion of Iraq, no anti-bankers, no anti-GM food; does a truly memorable song voicing people’s opposition to such things exist in English? I know Steve Earle and many other artists are writing about such concerns, but none of their songs came to mind along with globally known anthems such as ‘We Shall Overcome’ and ‘This Land Is Your Land’.
Many of the tracks featured came from the late-70’s/early 80’s. This is no doubt partially due to my almost total immersion in music at the time – working in a record shop and spending all the (limited) money made there on vinyl and gigs – but could it also be that amongst the many negatives, one positive to come from the Thatcher/Reagan years was their riling people to such an extent that some damn good songs were created?! Something to chew over while perusing the tracks which did feature on Monday’s show….

1)THE SONS OF THE PIONEERS – OLD MAN ATOM /from ‘Protest! American Protest Songs 1928-1953’/ Viper 2006
More info: http://www.the-viper-label.co.uk/
2)DISCHARGE – PROTEST & SURVIVE /from ‘Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing’/ Clay Records 1982
More info: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Discharge/26385
3)WILLIAM ONYEABOR – BETTER CHANGE YOUR MIND /from the collection ‘Love’s A Real Thing’/ Luaka Bop 2004
More info: http://luakabop.com/africa/cmp/info.html
4)THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION – WHO NEEDS THE PEACE CORPS? /from ‘We’re Only In It For The Money’/ 1968,
Rykodisc 1995  More info: http://www.united-mutations.com/m/mothers_of_invention.htm
5)THE POP GROUP – WE ARE ALL PROSTITUTES /1979 7″ single, available on ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ compilation/ Radar 1998
More info: http://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/review/299/
6)BILL HICKS – GOOD TIMES ON DRUGS /from ‘Philosophy: The Best Of Bill Hicks’/ Rykodisc 2001
More info: http://www.billhicks.com/
7)MINOR THREAT – STRAIGHT EDGE /from ‘Complete Discography’/ Dischord Records 1989
More info: http://www.dischord.com/band/minor-threat
8)CRASS – ASYLUM /from ‘The Feeding Of The Five Thousand’/Small Wonder 1978(track replaced by silence), Crass Records
1980, 2010 (The Crassical Collection) More info: http://www.exitstencilpress.com/
9)WOODY GUTHRIE – JESUS CHRIST /from ‘This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings Vol.1’/ Smithsonian Folkways
1997 More info: http://www.woodyguthrie.org/biography/biography1.htm
10)THE LAST POETS – RUN NIGGER /from ‘The Last Poets’/ Sunspots 1970, Charly 2012 (with 2nd album: This Is Madness)
More info: http://www.math.buffalo.edu/~sww/LAST-POETS/last_poets0.html
11)KAIN – I AIN’T BLACK /from ‘The Blue Guerilla’/ Juggernaut 1971
More info: http://kainthepoet.com/
12)MARLENA SHAW – WOMAN OF THE GHETTO (live) /from ‘Live At Montreux’/ Blue Note 1974
More info: http://www.soulwalking.co.uk/Marlena%20Shaw.html
13)THE SOUND – MISSILES (live) /from ‘The Dutch Radio Recordings Vol.5’/ Renascent Records 2006
More info: http://www.musicemissions.com/artists/albums/index.php?album_id=15134

Songs which almost made it into the baker’s dozen included Suicidal Tendencies’ ‘Institutionalized’, with it’s classic protest at not being given a certain famous fizzy drink, and Robert Wyatt‘s ‘Shipbuilding’; the first was cut due to its inclusion on a previous programme, the latter simply because there wasn’t enough time. Gil Scott Heron‘s ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ was omitted for the same reason as Institutionalized.
So, where are all the memorable modern protest songs? I’ll be happy to have someone point me in the direction of some sharp and eloquent sonic or verbal attack – I’m sure there must be something out there which has yet to reach my ears! It’s not as if there aren’t enough things to cause protest these days – all the  old faves, plus fat cat payoffs, corruption (difficult to find a day here in the Czech Republic when a corrupt politician isn’t in the news), and countless injustices – but this isn’t the time or place for a balancing on the old soapbox. It is, however, time to bring this to a close.

Til next time, wishing you all love, peace, and many a sonic delight! S.

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~ by theshinybeast on November 15, 2012.

4 Responses to “Protest?! & 12/11/2012 ‘Protest+’ tracklist”

  1. Lots of hiphop and rap songs are protest songs of one stripe or another, and the indie folk types like Billy Bragg are always a good bet, but for the more “mainstream hit” variety, why not U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or Pink’s “Mr. President”?

    • Thanks for the comment! ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’is another early 80’s track, so wouldn’t get me closer to being both memorable and modern….PINK – yes! (but a little mainstream for TKS). Any specific hiphop song come to mind?

      • Well… Fight the Power and Fuck tha Police are what came to mind first, but they’re both late 80s. Water Pistol Man is early 90s, does that count (a lot of Michael Franti’s stuff could be classified as protest, but my favorite specific is Water Pistol)… Burn (Killer MIke) is more rap than hip-hop, but definitely recent.

      • I did think of including some Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, but only have it on that seemingly dead, but now showing signs of unexpected resurrection, form – cassette!

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