Protest Songs Day Four: Timezone, The Temptations, Public Image, Ian Gillan, Yes & Sting

Timezone is a one-off collaboration from 1984 between John Lydon, Afrika Bambaataa and Bill Laswell. I have this somewhere on a 7 inch single which fades out on side A after three minutes and then fades back up on side B, something that was surprisingly common in the early 80s before 12 inch singles really hit their stride. The video for World Destruction uses footage from two documentaries about impending nuclear armageddon, ‘The Atomic Cafe’ and ‘The Day After’. There was also ‘Threads’ which gives people of a certain age shivers just thinking about it.

The idea that we would all still be around in 2017 seemed debatable back in the era of Mutually Assured Destruction. So why were we so keen on apocalyptic songs like World Destruction, Two Tribes and Dancing With Tears In My Eyes? A desire for catharsis?

Over to Roy:

Motown is often cited as the soundtrack to the Civil Rights movement, its blissful uptempo soul-pop crossing over to a mainstream white audience – but the big hit singles were strictly non political and appeared to exist in parallel world to the political trauma taking place on the streets of the US. This single by The Temptations, with lyrics about poverty and unemployment marked the point in 1968 when Motown got political and bagged the label its first Grammy as well as yet another top 10 billboard smash hit.

Andy:

It seems highly appropriate, that following Richard’s much-loved choice (at least, by me!) for today, that I should follow up with another slice of Lydon bile. Not, as you may be thinking, from Johnny’s most notorious outfit, but from the fifth (yes, fifth!) Public Image Ltd album, this also follows on neatly from Richard’s Day Three selection, as it too concerns apartheid and specifically Nelson Mandela. However, I gather the line from which the title comes is actually taken from a rephrasing of an old Irish blessing “may the road rise up to meet you” (thanks Wikipedia!).

Nobody does anger better and when the line “Anger is an energy” is constantly and repeatly spat out it perfectly encapsulates the feeling of the struggle. Reaching number 11 in the UK singles chart during 1986, this shows that not everyone was into Whitney and Wham! I could be wrong but I could be right, is anyone else concerned about Lydon’s laundry issues?!


Ian:

For those of you with a literary or liberal arts appreciation, I am loving the “Joseph Campbell” style narrative arc that seems to be evolving (at least in my interpretation of the collection posts). As I have followed your commentary over the last few days, I’m seeing Campbell-style, the original selections as foundation elements (ie “Call to Adventure” & “Meeting the Mentor”). This means, in my Hero’s journey model of the ten days, I think we’re now be at the “Crossing the Threshold” stage. As a consequence, and not to over-interpret recent posts, but the “Half-Breed” and “Rise” choices of the last 24 hours seem consistent with the story-like arc interpretation driving my next selection. In today’s somewhat guilty pleasure, I recognise that pop tunes can also capture protest philosophy even if most listeners/viewers of “Top of the Pops” were clueless about the primary point of a composition. When Gordon Sumner’s “Russians” was released, I was a recent university graduate in the time of Thatcherism, Reagonomics and immanent nuclear threat. While played initially on the independent BBC6 style stations, the tune quickly moved to high rotation tune on the commercial radio networks. Regardless, I loved the elaborate narrative, melody and philosophy of the song. Of course the cynic in me was not surprised to learn somewhat later that the lyrics were composed with the help of the Oxford Rhyming Dictionary & the melody came from Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. At least, I consoled myself, the optimism was genuine (or is that too naive?)

Anne:

You all probably heard a lot more Yes than we did, (any Yes is too much Yes for me). But I couldn’t resist the video — it’s priceless. And Rolling Stone lists this as the #1 corniest pro-environment song,
“a languid, disco-inflected rant against those who are “killing our last heaven beast.” The lyrics are uniformly and hilariously overwrought, but the finest couplet has to be, “In the wake of our new age to stand for the frail/Don’t kill the whale.” In a time when Brit punk was at its ferocious apex, Yes’s tinny keys and imploding imagery was decidedly… not punk.”

Gerard:

Hmmmm …. I’m submitting this 1980 selection now rather than later due to two separate Day 4 prompts for it’s inclusion: ie. it’s title is directly mentioned in the introduction to today’s offerings ; and Mr Sumner’s assertion that “There’s no such thing as a winnable war …. .

The renowned lead singer once introduced this 1980 song by revealing he’d received communication from both the US and USSR leaders (Reagan and Brezhnev, at the time iirc) informing him that the song had help prevent a nuclear holocaust … but however, that it was also likely to be responsible for one in the coming year or two.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Protest Songs Day Four: Timezone, The Temptations, Public Image, Ian Gillan, Yes & Sting

  1. It seems highly appropriate, that following Richard’s much-loved choice (at least, by me!) for today, that I should follow up with another slice of Lydon bile. Not, as you may be thinking, from Johnny’s most notorious outfit, but from the fifth (yes, fifth!) Public Image Ltd album, this also follows on neatly from Richard’s Day Three selection, as it too concerns apartheid and specifically Nelson Mandela. However, I gather the line from which the title comes is actually taken from a rephrasing of an old Irish blessing “may the road rise up to meet you” (thanks Wikipedia!).

    Nobody does anger better and when the line “Anger is an energy” is constantly and repeatly spat out it perfectly encapsulates the feeling of the struggle. Reaching number 11 in the UK singles chart during 1986, this shows that not everyone was into Whitney and Wham! I could be wrong but I could be right, is anyone else concerned about Lydon’s laundry issues?!

  2. For those of you with a literary or liberal arts appreciation, I am loving the “Joseph Campbell” style narrative arc that seems to be evolving (at least in my interpretation of the collection posts). As I have followed your commentary over the last few days, I’m seeing Campbell-style, the original selections as foundation elements (ie “Call to Adventure” & “Meeting the Mentor”). This means, in my Hero’s journey model of the ten days, I think we’re now be at the “Crossing the Threshold” stage. As a consequence, and not to over-interpret recent posts, but the “Half-Breed” and “Rise” choices of the last 24 hours seem consistent with the story-like arc interpretation driving my next selection. In today’s somewhat guilty pleasure, I recognise that pop tunes can also capture protest philosophy even if most listeners/viewers of “Top of the Pops” were clueless about the primary point of a composition. When Gordon Sumner’s “Russians” was released, I was a recent university graduate in the time of Thatcherism, Reagonomics and immanent nuclear threat. While played initially on the independent BBC6 style stations, the tune quickly moved to high rotation tune on the commercial radio networks. Regardless, I loved the elaborate narrative, melody and philosophy of the song. Of course the cynic in me was not surprised to learn somewhat later that the lyrics were composed with the help of the Oxford Rhyming Dictionary & the melody came from Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. At least, I consoled myself, the optimism was genuine (or is that too naive?)

  3. You all probably heard a lot more Yes than we did, (any Yes is too much Yes for me). But I couldn’t resist the video — it’s priceless. And Rolling Stone lists this as the #1 corniest pro-environment song,
    “a languid, disco-inflected rant against those who are “killing our last heaven beast.” The lyrics are uniformly and hilariously overwrought, but the finest couplet has to be, “In the wake of our new age to stand for the frail/Don’t kill the whale.” In a time when Brit punk was at its ferocious apex, Yes’s tinny keys and imploding imagery was decidedly… not punk.”

    1. Glorious – willing to risk damp satin bellbottoms and electrocution in order to ensure the future of the whale. The video is straight out of the Brian Pern playbook (not sure this series has been on US TV?

  4. P.S. I LOVE Rise! It’s in constant rotation on the Sirius car satellite radio station First Wave — I hear it all the time. “Anger is an energy” is a very helpful mantra in NY area traffic… (I dig Timezone too, never heard it before — thank you all for all this new – to me – music!)

  5. Hmmmm …. I’m submitting this 1980 selection now rather than later due to two separate Day 4 prompts for it’s inclusion: ie. it’s title is directly mentioned in the introduction to today’s offerings ; and Mr Sumner’s assertion that “There’s no such thing as a winnable war …. .”
    The renowned lead singer once introduced this 1980 song by revealing he’d received communication from both the US and USSR leaders (Reagan and Brezhnev, at the time iirc) informing him that the song had help prevent a nuclear holocaust … but however, that it was also likely to be responsible for one in the coming year or two.

    1. Well if I were a blind man on a hill, I would indeed stand very still. Taken as a whole I think the six choices so far today have taken eclectic to the very limits indeed. Fine work everyone!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s