Walls Come Tumbling Down - the music of resistance

26 April 2017

Daniel Rachel, selects the songs central to four movements at the heart of his award-winning book Walls Come Tumbling Down; Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, Red Wedge and Artists Against Apartheid.


Rock Against Racism

The Clash – ‘London’s Burning’

‘Without punk,’ says Red Saunders (founder of Rock Against Racism), ‘the intervention of RAR would have been tiny.’ Unofficially, and after much deliberation, The Clash headlined the great Victoria Park Carnival in 1978. It was one of the greatest events in rock n roll history.

Watch The Clash performing live at Rock Against Racism, Victoria Park, 30th April 1978

 

X-Ray Spex – 'Identity'

'Poly Styrene inspired a generation of women. She was part Somali, part Scottish-Irish,’ says Kate Webb ‘and was like the advance party for the new self that was going to remake Britain.’

 

2 Tone

The Specials – ‘Ghost Town’

‘By the time ‘Ghost Town’ became the soundtrack of the riots and everything was going up in flames,’ remembers Juliet De Vie Wills (manager of the Selecter) 2 Tone was crumbling.’


Rhoda Dakar with The Specials – ‘The Boiler’

‘It was the most disturbing song I’ve ever heard,’ says Phil Jupitus, ‘I just remember the screaming bit at the end, ‘Oh my God, this is a rape.’ It’s the most horrific and powerful record I own, without question.’

 

Red Wedge

The Style Council – ‘Walls Come Tumbling Down’

‘‘Walls Come Tumbling Down!’ was a biblical reference to when they blew the trumpets and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down,’ says Jerry Dammers (The Specials). ‘Archaeologists now believe that the walls were undermined first; so it wasn’t the music. But that is a good point: music on its own isn’t going to work. You have to work with non-musical people and political movements that are connected.’


Kirsty MacColl – ‘Free World’

‘The Red Wedge Women’s Tour,’ says Joolz Denby (poet) was a chance to say, ‘Can we just be free to do this? There was a feeling amongst us that we were under the shadow of the boys. Simply because we stood on the stage and did it we actually changed the perceptions of a lot of young women. It showed a lot of young girls that they don’t have to just concentrate on hair and nails.’

 

Artists Against Apartheid

The Specials AKA – ‘(Free) Nelson Mandela’

‘It was a political record as education, ‘recalls Tracey Thorn (Everything But The Girl) ‘Shoes too small to fit his feet. It’s on details like that political lyric-writing turns and makes you go, ‘Really!’’



Gil Scott-Heron – ‘Johannesburg’

Performed at Festival for Freedom, Clapham Common, London, 28 June 1986. ‘I was standing on the side of the stage,’ remembers Lucy Hooberman (Red Wedge) ‘The sun was going down and everybody did that thing with their lighters like little candles which I’d never seen before.’

 

Walls Come Tumbling Down
The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge
Daniel Rachel

Charts the pivotal period between 1976 and 1992 that saw politics and pop music come together for the first time in Britain's musical history. Through the voices of campaigners, musicians, artists and politicians, Daniel Rachel follows the rise and fall of three key movements of the time: Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge, revealing how they all shaped, and were shaped by, the music of a generation.

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