Billy Bragg playing at the TUC Manchester demo, October 4 2015. Photo: Andrew McCaren/LNP/Rex Shutterstock
Soundtrack to protest: 5 of the best
Just a few weeks ago on October 4th, more than 60,000 people took to the streets of Manchester to protest at David Cameron’s austerity policies and attacks on the rights of working people and their unions. In a show of strength and feeling by the real “Big Society” the message was loud and clear – banners, placards, speeches, newspapers, posters, badges, stickers, balloons, flyers, chants and leaflets all said what needed to be said.
Then there was the music – the music of protest and revolution which is rich in history and variety and powerful in delivering the message. The music that, over the years, has harnessed anger of the youth, the disaffected, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the minority and these days, the majority who did not vote for the policies that are hurting them.
My DJ desk was in pole position to watch the oncoming crowds as they marched towards and past the main TUC stage, listening to the array of Trade Union speakers, enjoying the live set from working class hero Billy Bragg and the DJ playlist that I’d carefully considered. There were so many tracks to choose from and so many I could’ve played – but here are five songs from that day that have buoyed up protest many times in the past, and will do so again and again:
Billy Bragg – Power In A Union:
Ok… I didn’t actually play this on the day, as the man himself gave us a live version! Had he not done so, then it would have been 100% on my playlist. It’s a classic track for occasions such as this. It’s inspiring, it’s sing-along and it’s bloody well true.
“The Union forever, defending our rights, Down with the blackleg, all workers unite, With our brothers and our sisters from many far off lands, There is a power in a Union”
Muse – Uprising
A bit more up to date and my favourite track from this world famous stadium rock band from Teignmouth. There’s an epic feel to this track, taken from their Resistance album in 2009.
“Rise up and take the power back. It’s time the fat cats had a heart attack You know that their time is coming to an end We have to unify and watch our flag ascend”
Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down
From the get go, Paul Weller’s first line gets you on message; an infectious mix of keyboards and drums creates a beat you can’t help but want to dance to. The Modfather hits the nail right on the head.
“You don’t have to take this crap. You don’t have to sit back and relax. You can actually try changing it”
The Jam – Eton Rifles
Paul Weller again, this time at the peak of those wonderful heady days of The Jam who stormed into our lives as part of the Punk and New Wave scene of the late 70’s and early 80’s. When you hear this track, you just think of upper class, over privileged public school boys, with no connection to the people whose lives get messed up by the decisions they get to make at the top.
“Hello Hurray – Cheers then mate – it’s The Eton Rifles, Eton Rifles. Hello Hurray – an extremist scrape with The Eton Rifles, Eton Rifles”
Goldblade – We’re All In It Together:
Possibly one of the best known slogans in these modern times of austerity and cuts, George Osborne’s words have never come back to haunt him quite in the way that John Robb has ensured with this slab of pure punk rock protest.
“Rich are getting richer, The poor are getting stuffed!”
On another day, I’d probably play some different tracks – perhaps there’d be room for Free Nelson Mandela by Special AKA, Killing in the Name Of by Rage Against The Machine, No Government by Anti-Pasti, Decontrol by Discharge, White Riot by The Clash, Stand Strong Together by Louise Distras…the list is endless which probably demonstrates how no matter who’s in power, who’s making the decisions and who’s calling the shots, there’s always room – no, a need – for protest pop and revolution rock!
Got any suggestions from your own soundtrack to protest? Leave us a comment: