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“If you want to write music that’s relevant to people our age, you need to make your lyrics less obvious, less ‘in your face’. You should use metaphors and avoid obvious political statements.” Wong Yin Kit, April 2009.


We were in Redchurch Studio at work on our album Kunstlerische Schaffenspause. Those present were myself, Michael Hoang and Wong Yin Kit (known as Richard to his mates). Our other group member, Luc Tran, was in Vietnam at the time – the extent he’ll go to in order to avoid band arguments is ridiculous. 1) Michael was trying – without much success – to understand why I hardly ever include samples as one of the tools of my compositional process. 2) Richard was trying – without much success – to understand why I often use rock songs as a medium with which to convey direct, blatantly political polemic. 3) During this discussion I was trying – without much success – to understand why so many teenagers prefer to listen to old fashioned music by dinosaur rock bands or contemporary music played in very old fashioned genres by modern rock bands. While these 3 questions are not necessarily related, since they formed an integral aspect of what turned into quite a long, detailed and passionate debate that afternoon, I believe it is relevant to investigate the ramifications as they relate to the change in fashions that prevails in pop music today.

Let’s address the third matter first. When I was at school in the 1970s, teenagers would never – not ever – admit they liked music that was any more than 2 years old. In my case, I was absolved from such a stricture since I preferred avant garde classical music. To me it was more interesting, adventurous and relevant to me than the wretched bleating of middle class nancy boys who, when they weren’t being buggered by their managers, were more concerned with their eye liner than the number of homeless people scattered around our inner cities that year. That I failed to realise most exponents of the Darmstadt school were also arrogant, middle class, spoilt brats speaks volumes for my ability to avoid unpleasant truths. As the great Chinese martial artist Li Siu Lung wrote: to suppress a truth is to give it force beyond endurance. What matters here, however, is that I was free to listen to any music I enjoyed regardless of the year in which it was written. In classical music there is no longer any such property as ‘old fashioned’ – or is there?

In the 18th century, the English composer William Boyce continued to compose music in the high baroque style rather than adopt the new gallant mode preferred by Josef Haydn, Wolfgang Mozart and their pals. His detractors often ridiculed what they called his ‘old fashioned’ works. In the 20th century, a new fashion ran rampant in Europe during the 1950s: serialism. By 1960 every self respecting composer required 12 notes for a scale, not 8. Others went further and included indeterminacy, aleatoricism and improvisation among their compositional tools. I have no complaints here since many fascinating pieces were written as a result of this artistic revolution. However, during the 1960s there were superlative works written by Malcolm Arnold and Robert Simpson (among others) that were virtually ignored by the BBC, concert promoters and major record companies because their music was regarded, like that of William Boyce, as ‘old fashioned’. In 2009 there are many recordings of the chamber music and orchestral works of Arnold and Simpson now. Their works are performed at live concerts. Most of the strange, eccentric sonic doodling of the avant gardists has been long forgotten.

However, the difference is that among classical music enthusiasts, you were never going to be regarded as unhip if you enjoyed Bach and Brahms as well as Varese and Messiaen or even a joke composer like Stockhausen. At school I remember when Deep Purple released an album called Deep Purple In Rock. When questioned about my reaction to it, I admitted that they were highly competent musicians and for that reason I had more respect for them than for, say, The Who or The Rolling Stones. ‘Oh, they’re old fashioned, they’re past it now.’ was what one lad muttered with complete derision. I think both groups were still active in 1970 but I may be wrong. In any case, when you are a young teenager, 3 years is a very long time indeed, therefore the music that was fashionable in 1967 was already ancient.


There is another important factor to consider here. In 1970 there were no I-pods and the internet was 20 years away. If you wanted to buy an old record by The Small Faces for your decidedly unhip older sister, you had to trawl through the second hand shops. In 2009, it is possible to seek out (via a search engine such as Google) any recorded music from any nation and download it into your computer or I-pod. Add to this the cultural revolution that occurred during the 1990s that was epitomised by the rave scene. Here, the prodigious use of samples and quotes from old records became a major aspect of popular dance records. Hordes of teenagers hunted down ancient obscure soul and rock records in order to swipe drum beats and guitar breaks for their latest dance hall grooves created on a home computer courtesy of the ubiquitous cubase programme. The old music utilised for these new pieces emanated from a quite bewildering variety of sources that included Tubeway Army, James Brown and Led Zeppelin.


As a slight digression, consider Gentle Giant. They were the greatest progressive rock group in the world. There can be not the slightest dispute about that – it is a scientifically proven fact. While I enjoy each of their albums, let us pick their 4th one – Octopus – released in 1972. It was the first Gentle Giant record to achieve significant sales both in Europe and America; it became one of their most loved and respected recordings. It possessed a superlative combination of memorable melodies, dazzling instrumental counterpoint, a couple of a-capella vocal fugues and some intriguing lyrics. In 1984 I remember reading, with absolute disgust, an article in some pop music newspaper about the alleged sheer irrelevance and pomposity of progressive rock. Now this journalist was obviously in his 30s and therefore would have been a teenager when progressive rock first became fashionable. He cited Gentle Giant as one of the bands who merited his puerile comments. The primary audience for this group during its existence tended to be white and middle class. This is not a criticism, merely a factual observation. Music journalists who are employed by the corporate media (New Musical Express, The Face and so on) are all middle aged and middle class. Young, working class writers are simply not eligible for employment by this system because its task is to help the government maintain the social order by channelling youthful rebellion into safe and non-threatening areas.


Bear in mind that at this time I had never heard a single work by the group. In fact the first time I ever heard the music of Gentle Giant was in 2003. Therefore, my reaction to his scribbling was not motivated by any desire to defend a group who had provided me with treasured musical memories. However, I possessed sufficient perspicacity to appreciate that his feeble rant was inspired purely by a desperate desire to appear trendy, hip and cool by his perceived readership and nothing else. Which pop groups did he regard and respect during the early 1970s? His defence of commercially acceptable punk rock (The Clash, The Damned and other pop stars) certainly did not fool me nor, I suspect, the majority of his readers. If Octopus by Gentle Giant was a highly enjoyable record in 1972, does it cease to be a highly enjoyable record in 1982 simply because it is no longer 1972? Of course not. Does the music change in any manner simply due to the succession of years? Of course not. If a piece of music is excellent, it retains those qualities that generate its excellence regardless of the historical period in which it is heard. When I listened to that album in 2003, I was immensely impressed by its contents. I was also highly surprised to have found a recording from 1972 unknown to me that was of such inestimable interest.


The net consequence of this is that in the 21st century, you are no longer considered unhip and uncool if you possess tracks by Deep Purple and Marvin Gaye on your I-pod along with Coldplay, Eminem and Shocking Lemon. Is this a cause for celebration? Does this mean teenagers have liberated themselves from the tyranny of fashion? Sadly, no, it does not. You see, ‘old school’ and ‘retro’ are now rather hip and cool! So when we hold a UNIT rehearsal in my flat, it is not to the modern CDs the lads go when they want to borrow a disc of possibly intriguing music from my collection. They reach for the 1970s progressive rock. So why do I find this rather sad? Because it represents a sad indictment upon the state of contemporary pop music that it is so bland, conservative and often even irrelevant to teenagers that they are compelled to delve into the recordings of past decades in order to find music that means something to them.


When Fabio and Grooverider introduced the world to the genesis of what would soon become rave culture with dance music in all its various forms (house, garage, techno, drum’n’bass etc), their use of samples was considered novel and innovative. A sample is an excerpt, usually looped (a repeated section or riff), taken from a previously recorded piece of music by another singer or group. By the early 1990s, groups such as The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers and The Orb used the technique in ever more inventive ways: the excerpts were sped up, slowed down, subjected to echo, reverb, digital delay and other extraneous effects in order to integrate them into the music. This was artistic recycling on a major scale. This was ecologically friendly music! The inclusion of excerpts from pre-recorded works also added a new dimension to the world of popular music: it confronted the issue of copyright and ownership. An artist known as Plunderphonics released a disc that consisted entirely of samples taken from works by Michael Jackson from which new works were created. This generated a furore among the record company executives who released the original recordings and a court case proceeded which resulted in the Plunderphonics disc being banned.


However, the notion that the prodigious use of samples to create a musical collage was new and revolutionary only applied to rock and pop music – classical composers had in fact adopted this idea decades earlier. In the 1950s there were experiments made with compositions created directly onto magnetic tape that took recordings of trains, concert halls and prerecorded music, often subjected to electronic manipulation. These pieces were grouped under the title of musique concrete. Later, composers combined electronic sounds with live instruments or voices and the precorded sounds often included fragments (samples) of previously recorded music. The eccentric American John Cage often wrote works designed to incorporate radios broadcasting classical, jazz and popular music during a performance. There was also the concept of live collages actually composed to be performed by the musicians during a piece. Sinfonia by the Italian avant garde composer Luciano Berio (1968) is the most notorious of these with its extensive quotes from the Symphony No.2 by the Austrian Gustav Mahler. The German 20th century composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann frequently included quotes by Beethoven and Wagner in his orchestral works. Finally, the most eloquent use of collage is not in an avant garde work at all but in the scherzo of the 4th Symphony of Robert Simpson where Joseph Haydn is quoted (Symphony No.76) as it nonchalantly skates through all manner of turbulent tumult hurled at it from the late 20th century.


Now, by the late 1990s, rave culture was not merely past its prime, it was virtually moribund. Criminal gangs and the establishment music business had each colonised all its major aspects such that nothing of the original culture remained untarnished. As both old and new outfits became bereft of inspiration and ideas, the samples were about the only aspects of the music that were still enjoyable. By the 21st century, samples were generally adopted by groups who were devoid of original ideas. Also, if the majority of your music is based upon looped samples then you need not spend much time writing and performing much music yourself. So, there are three reasons why I do not use samples in my own works, at least not in the form of incorporating recordings of music by other people. First, I am in a group with highly competent musicians who do not require the crutch of samples to prop up their performances. Second, we possess a sufficient wealth of compositional skills and ideas such that we are not obliged to resort to samples in order to compensate for the creative poverty that afflicts so many other contemporary groups today. Third, the prodigious use of samples, like the genres of house, garage, hip hop and rap, sounds so old fashioned and dated now. To hell with all that 1990s gear – I want to write 21st century music!


The question raised by Richard Wong is the most fraught with difficulties when engaged in any attempt to answer it. I have frequently returned to the issue of the use of popular music to propagate political ideals in various essays. This is primarily because I have yet to satisfy myself that there is a convincing answer to the problem. When I told Richard I wanted UNIT to be of interest and relevance to people his age (17), his reply was unequivocal. “If you want to write music that’s relevant to people our age, you need to make your lyrics less obvious, less ‘in your face’. You should use metaphors and avoid obvious political statements.”


This surprised me – not because of the content but because of the speaker. It was a most unusually articulate and astute observation from a lad who, to be brutal, has hardly built his reputation from intellectual pursuits or the pithiness of his profound statements. Well, perhaps I can be accused of under estimating his abilities. Besides, I’d not seen him since he last contributed to a UNIT recording, back in 2006 – when he was 14. It also disturbed me. If his assertion is accurate – and I have no particular reason to doubt his ability to represent his peer group, after all – then it implies that teenagers possess scant interest either in what is happening to this country or the reasons responsible. It further suggests that teenagers prefer not to confront the ugly realities of life in what is fast becoming national socialist Britain but choose drugs, third rate poetics (rap) and escapism instead. Well I can understand that – but where do we all go when there is nowhere left to run and hide?


However, let’s be fair. Was the situation really any better when I was a teenager? What did teenagers in the 1980s really achieve, after all? If our merits are to be judged merely on our achievements then Richard and his pals are welcome to laugh at us with contempt. I suggest that different criteria should be used, not to salvage any self respect on our part, you understand, but to emphasise the importance – indeed, the necessity – of a radical paradigm shift in the mentality of the average teenager in Britain today. We did not (most of us) vote for Margaret Thatcher and we most definitely did not vote for Reichsmarshall Tony Blair. Fair enough, most of us refused to vote at all, but this was not so much due to apathy but because we realised that there was actually no person or party in Britain who deserved our vote: they were all complete bastards. Why encourage such scum? Our reasoning took this form. If we participate in their ballot box ballet with its proscribed choices (which deny real choice) then we sanction this absurd and deeply offensive electoral edifice so we thus have no recourse to complaint regardless of who is actually elected to run the country. Why is this? Because by voting in the poll station farce, you give credence to it; in effect your participation bestows upon the British electoral system a legitimacy it does not deserve.


During the 1980s and especially during the 1990s, we continued to squat empty property, to sell and take drugs and largely to ignore the petty, restrictive, draconian rules and laws by which the government sought to control and regulate our behaviour. Something then went drastically wrong in the 2000s: British youth started to yield, surrender, give up and give in. The soundtrack to contemporary youth consists primarily of bland pop muzak and, for those who wish to adopt the pretence of rebellion, gangsta rap. There are more swear words and shouting than ever before but the anger and aggression is generally reserved for other gangs of teenagers, other rappers, other social groups, other racial groups and other people who are equally inoffensive and unimportant. Gangsta rap, hip hop and, especially, R&B are irrelevant because they provide safe and utterly ineffectual avenues for teenagers to let off steam and avoid being any threat at all to the people actually responsible for making our lives miserable.


In 1982 a group of teenagers from Kent called Anthrax released a record called Capitalism Is Cannibalism. The music was harsh, tuneless and brutal – the real sound of capitalism perhaps. There were dozens of other groups like Anthrax (although most of them were nowhere near as intelligent or pithy). These teenagers saw what Thatcher was doing to Britain and they were sufficiently disgusted by it to write a song of extreme anger and outrage as a protest. Now name me one equivalent group (excluding UNIT) from 2002 who released a record attacking the Blair regime in a similar manner. No, neither can I.


There was even, for a while, a frankly preposterous (yet, in hindsight, understandable) belief that punk rock groups were ‘political’ or at least their lyrics and attitude were relevant to political protest and social dissent against the establishment. From 1976 to around 1980, punk rock was no more politically active than glam rock – The Sex Pistols were simply The Bay City Rollers with safety pins and swear words (except Les McKeown could actually sing in time and in tune). A look at the primary trio of punk bands from this first wave reveals the true extent of any political rebelliousness from that quarter. The Sex Pistols were little more than the realisation of a daft concept by a couple of Kings Road clothes shop entrepreneurs, Malcolm McLaren and Vivian Westwood; The Monkees for 1970s Britain. Session musicians assisted for most of the music and the songs themselves were rarely written entirely by any members of the group itself. The group was contracted to Virgin Records and so worked hard to accrue hefty profits for the Branson financial empire. Anarchy In The UK, is it? I rather think not, old bean.


I must add that this is not merely the disingenuous carping of a dispossessed progressive rocker 30 years after the fact. Even when I was at school, virtually nobody took The Sex Pistols seriously – almost every 15 year old knew they were a joke. The Clash were far less fun and far more offensive because they adopted the uniform of political dissent and moral outrage purely as a means to sell records and accrue larger audiences at their concerts. Remember that during the late 1970s agitational propaganda, political slogans and social protest were especially relevant to working class people: unemployment was rife, homeless people littered the streets, Marxist led unions held the nation to ransom with their greed and bourgeois aspirations and the government bent over backwards to offer its arse to Saudi Arabia in an effort to squeeze out even a faint hope of slightly cheaper oil. Meanwhile The Clash, all dolled up in military drag, posed for their album cover as guerrillas on a flat bed truck. This was their latest insult to everyone in Britain who genuinely fought for political change and social improvement. The Clash were signed to gigantic American corporation CBS who, like EMI, were dab hands at financing weapons systems with which to keep those uppity niggers in Africa in their place.


Then there was The Damned, easily the least offensive of the Big Three punk bands at this time. They were considerably more honest in every respect: they played their own instruments and, to be fair, played them rather well. They concocted no contrived political rhetoric in order to accrue credibility from the music press and audiences, unlike The Clash and countless other no hopers from this period. They never set out to change the world – they merely wanted to hold bigger parties than anyone else. Personally I found them just as boring as The Sucks Pastilles and The Clash but if someone put on a record by The Damned when I was in the room, at least I didn’t feel compelled to head for the door at Olympian speed.


It is no accident that virtually all punk bands were white, male and middle class. One of the rare exceptions, Poly Styrene (the vocalist for a band called X Ray Spex) found the scene so traumatic that she ended up under psychiatric care not long after her band recorded their first album. A Marxist organisation calling itself Rock Against Racism made a concerted attempt to address what they perceived as The Problem in Britain in the late 1970s. I suspect a few of their members may even have been genuine opponents of racism but I bet these people were also among the first to leave the organisation once they realised what was actually on its agenda. The motto for every RAR meeting should have been ‘How To Persecute Anyone In The World Who Isn’t Exactly The Same As Us’. How many Asian, Oriental or Black Caribbean members were there in Rock Against Racism?


There were pop musicians who provided insightful and intelligent responses to the dreadful state of Britain at this time and whose articulation was memorable: John Cooper Clarke, The Fall and Alternative TV are the three examples that come immediately to mind but by no stretch of the imagination could such people be called ‘political activists’, nor I suspect would they thank you if you tried. There were many highly committed political activists at the time who dedicated their lives to raising social awareness and provoking constructive change in our society – but none of them had either the time or the inclination to be in pop groups. Most of the punk bands of the day were actually no different in their aspirations from the pop groups of the 1960s. They wanted fame, fortune and fanny. There were only 2 primary differences between 1960s pop groups and 1970s punk bands: the former generally learnt to play their instruments at least to a reasonable standard and they never tried to disguise their desires behind a feeble facade of political rhetoric.


Were there any bands from this era who revealed genuine political sentiments? At the time, some of us believed this to be the case when a bunch of communist sympathisers called Crisis released their first single as part of a campaign to raise awareness of gross corruption and avarice perpetrated by Southwark Council. No Town Hall moaned about the millions of pounds due to be spent on a new town hall while hundreds of people remained homeless. PC1984 was the now obligatory rant to equate the police with fascism and a totalitarian state. Holocaust was a plea for public awareness to realise the National Front were neo-nazi sympathisers. Well, pardon me, but every one of the political agitators I knew were already well aware of that back in 1974. Their next single continued to display all the politically correct sentiments. White Youth was a tedious drone that exhorted black and white to unite and fight while UK79 suggested Britain was becoming a fascist state. Their final single featured Bruckwood Hospital, a daft rant about psychiatric patients escaping from a hospital – well, as an ex-psychiatric patient myself, I really don’t need a bunch of middle class dandies using vulnerable people as a means to invoke amusement. Alienation was enjoyable but utter nonsense. They also released a thoroughly tedious album of seven miserable Marxist moans against nothing much called Hymns Of Faith. This gaggle of grim geeks collapsed early in 1981, unable to continue the farce.


A couple of months later, the 2 founder members, Tony Wakeford and Douglas Pierce, who were responsible for most of the music and lyrics in Crisis, formed a new group called Death In June. This sad and sorry outfit would trawl through all the badly played acoustic guitars of the world during the next decade in an unsuccessful effort to find a single memorable melody. Every record was a celebration of German soldiers, national socialist chic and a barely disguised celebration of the third reich – but never overtly, never deliberately. In other words, they possessed neither the decency nor the courage to stand up like real men and admit they found fascism more attractive than socialism. They were obliged to allow themselves a semantic escape hatch through which to crawl so that the mystique would allow them to be able to sell records and concert tickets. Death In June were not alone in this absurd behaviour. The 1980s witnessed a whole plethora of pathetic middle class malcontents out to shock mummy with their naughty antics: Sol Invictus, Current 93, Whitehouse and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. Toward the end of the decade this scene perked up a little when an American performance artist called Boyd Rice entered the fray and added a slightly more articulate voice to this previously painful charade with essays and lyrics that were by turns amusing, angry and insightful. Finally, the pantomime Nazis had a Führer.


All the same, give me an honest fascist band like Skrewdriver any day. They supported the National Front and, later, the British National Party – they were national socialists and proud of it. Besides, their lyrics were funnier and their music rocked! Now, their political allegiance aside, Skrewdriver were (at least initially) a punk band and they never tried to disguise their extreme right wing political beliefs. From 1981 onwards they risked imprisonment, physical assault, social exclusion, the impossibility of live concerts and impounded records rather than behave themselves and spout the safe politically correct slogans demanded by the music business of the day. This was in the time before gangsta rap when promoting the rape of women and the death and intimidation of jews and homosexuals became hip and trendy once again. They supported national socialism with an honesty and integrity that was both laudable and impressive. Of course, to appreciate this it probably helped if you were a national socialist. It is therefore unfortunate that socialists and anarchists have never found a pop group of their own who displayed an equal degree of commitment to their political causes. Before all you old, sodden middle aged middle class punk types scream ‘Crass’ at me, I ask you to consider just how many genuine anarchists and supporters of working class revolution ever considered Crass to be a feasible or acceptable provider of the soundtrack for the cause.


What about The Jam? Here was a refreshingly articulate pop group with its roots in the original punk rock wave of the 1970s and its branches in the mod revival and soul boom of the 1980s. One writer once stated that had The Who formed in 1976 they’d have sounded just like The Jam. This is questionable. There is none of the quirky eccentricity nor the bitter cynicism of Pete Townsend in Paul Weller, the singer and guitarist of The Jam whose technical prowess (all 3 members were highly competent musicians) immediately set them apart from all that punk dross. Despite being signed to Polydor Records, a huge corporate record company, Weller made scant effort to hide his socialist beliefs. However, that didn’t prevent his band attaining the upper reaches of the national popular music charts on no less than 15 occasions from 1977 to 1982. That they achieved this despite many of their lyrics displaying blatantly left wing political texts is nothing short of miraculous. It wouldn’t be allowed to happen today, of course – New Labour National Socialism would see to that. However, just how political can a pop group be when they’re making money for a multinational corporation? Just how much of the politics Weller espoused was so much rhetorical window dressing? I suggest his beliefs were a damned sight more honest and genuine than The Clash (for example), no matter how odious and risible. Despite being an ardent supporter of Rock Against Communism for nearly 3 decades now, I still respect The Jam for having the courage to express their beliefs in a public forum and for doing so in a musically proficient manner.


Now it can be argued – perhaps with some justification – that after the first wave of punk (1976-1979) died a death that was long overdue, the second wave exhibited an ostensibly overt political awareness not apparent in their predecessors. This was inspired by a group of hippies who realised that the summer of love in 1967 had, 12 years on, mutated into the winter of hate. They were rather more intelligent and articulate than most of their peers and indeed their origins were related to the avant garde art and music scene rather than the standard blues and rock circuit. When they elected to form a music group in 1979, they were not so much a punk band as an outsiders’ interpretation of what a punk band might be – the difference is crucial if we are to comprehend what motivated this group who, within a few hectic months, had their name sprayed on walls and leather jackets across the entire length and breadth of Britain. Crass had arrived. By 1981 it had become de rigeuer to adopt these commandments: thou shalt be an anarchist; thou shalt be a vegetarian; thou shalt be a pacifist; thou shalt wear black rags; thou shalt be a boring bastard. To be fair to Crass, at no time did any of their members insist or even suggest that their followers should adopt the same modes of dress, behaviour and belief systems as themselves. Indeed, they often made it clear they did not want actual followers at all. ‘You are all individuals!’ they’d yell from stages and concert halls across the nation. ‘Yes, we are all individuals!’ their young acolytes would scream out of sweaty mosh pits from Carlisle to Cornwall.


Now, even though I once met the group and discovered them to be intelligent, articulate and honest individuals dedicated to their cause, I found their politics offensive and their music atrocious. Unfortunately, through no direct fault of the group itself, they did attract followers – rabidly partisan fans who adhered to the ridiculously naive polemic of anarcho-pacifism with a self righteous fervour equal to the most belligerent Muslim fundamentalist. All this bollocks meant absolutely nothing to me. I was poor, working class, slightly disabled and profoundly angry with what the government was doing to my country. I was in a pop group called The Apostles by this time. When Ian Bone and his crew created the group Class War in the middle of the decade, finally, at last, there was an organisation that spoke my language, that addressed real issues relevant to me and which produced a newspaper worth reading. The great unwashed anarcho-pacifist white middle class animal lovers had Crass. I realised Class War could do with their own pop group. I intended The Apostles to be that group – but here was where I totally failed to appreciate the situation. You see, Class War did not actually need a silly pop group to sing its praises, help raise public awareness of the issues it addressed and propagate its tenets – it was perfectly capable of performing those functions itself. Besides, each record by The Apostles was bought by no more than 5,000 people; Class War sold over 5 times that amount for every issue of its paper. The Apostles were never featured in the mainstream media. Ian Bone was interviewed on the Jonathan Ross Show on national television. Case closed, m’lud.


So, doesn’t all this mean that Richard Wong is perfectly correct to question the validity of UNIT utilising blatantly political texts for its lyrics? Yes it does – his argument is simply too strong for me to refute it entirely. So far, since 2005, various works by UNIT have been broadcast on no less than 15 different programmes on Resonance 104.4 FM. Out of all these pieces, hardly any have featured our more overt political statements. It is almost as if these works have been avoided by the programme presenters on Resonance. Could this be because they find our political sentiments offensive or too dangerous to broadcast on the air? Even a cursory investigation of the radio station will reveal that such a contention is utterly without justification. Indeed, even stronger beliefs of a similar nature have been vituperatively expounded on a whole variety of its magazine and news programmes. No, the reason very few of our political pieces have been aired must surely be because the programme presenters find them a little boring; they know the problems, they are familiar with the political arguments and they don’t need to hear them recycled through the UNIT pop song process. Our strident critiques of Blairite national socialism would be shocking to the middle class wimps who run BBC radio programmes and who write for the New Musical Express; to the programme presenters of Resonance, however, they no doubt mixed with people who discussed these same ideas while I was still at school so they are hardly liable to be impressed with our manifesto. I posit that this is why they have featured our other material with such generous regularity but generally avoided the political rants.


When UNIT formed in 1999, 3 of its members were Chinese. This provided us with sufficient license to write about issues that concerned people from south east Asia, including political issues, especially since these were generally unknown to the majority of young people in Britain. When I was in The Apostles we had an Indian guitarist for nearly a year and we wrote about issues of racism at a time when literally no anarcho-pacifist punk band touched the subject with a barge pole. Certainly white people can write songs about racism but such sentiments sound profoundly more convincing when there are non-white people in the band. However, when I write songs concerned with the racism directed against white people, we are met with a stony wall of indifference. The implication here is that racially motivated assaults against the indigenous white people of Britain are in some bizarre manner less offensive than similar attacks against coloured people. This concept is a direct concomitant of the disgusting tenets of political correctness created by Marxists within the Labour Party during the 1980s. It has led directly to the imposition of national socialist policies being inflicted upon the British population today.


The problem now is that teenagers are, by and large, ignorant of political issues or, worse still, they are aware of the issues but simply don’t care anymore. There are so many more interesting distractions to keep their minds occupied: the internet, their play station games, x-boxes, I-pods and downloadable, interactive whatevers. In other words, so long as it is illegal to play live music in public places without licenses, so long as it is illegal for people to enjoy a cigarette in a pub or club, so long as we are under constant surveillance by closed circuit television cameras on nearly every street in the nation, so long as employers have the right to deny basic rights to employees, so long as it is acceptable to give jobs and homes to immigrants while these same jobs and homes are denied to British people, so long as it possible for the government to send its troops to invade foreign countries in defiance of the desires of the majority of the population, so long as it is illegal for ordinary people to protest on the streets against government corruption and the injustices inflicted upon them by global capitalism then I shall continue to defend our adoption of overt political lyrics in UNIT.


Andy Martin © 2009.




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