The other week, my good friend and fellow connoisseur of fine music, Roberto Pinky Pasolli – he of Fnord Tapes and IndieToBe renown, shared the track ‘Little England‘ by the London band Slow Faction.
The rush was immediate and vital, teleporting me back to my former teenage self, listening to the likes of the Angelic Upstarts. Bands who share the gift of rhetoric, anthems soaked in the visceral struggle, for the overthrow of our chinless feudal overlords. Surely not too much to ask for, at this supposed pinnacle of civilisation.
A “pinnacle” pock-marked by racist thugs like Farage, and “bumbling” nabob’s like Boris, backed by battalions of self-serving dismantlers of the welfare state. A sorry state of affairs, earned through the blood, sweat and tears, of a centuries old, tooth-and-nail clawing for basic human dignity.
Fittingly, Slow Faction describe themselves as, “a 1st generation-influenced punk band with a real London 77 sound” – a descriptor they pull off with ease.
‘Little England‘ struck a raw nerve, particularly in the run-up to the farcical EU referendum election;
Going nowhere but looking back
Drape yourself in your Union Jack
From the terrace to the House of Lords
Shut off from the outside world
All the time you’re destroying what you love
This is real life, not some national park
Close your eyes to the 21st century
Heritage – our only industry
Is this what you want? A little England?
Is this what you want? Faded empire glory?
Is this what you want? A past without a future?
Things can never stay the same
So you hate what you don’t understand
You say you stand for the common man
So you know your history?
You only see what you want to see
So you talk about sovereignty
The pride of England and the head of the Queen
The purity of your national tribe
You only aim – to repel the tide
……Is this really what you want?…….”
‘Little England‘ is a seething cauldron of measured eloquence – bubbling with all the quintessential hallmarks, of what real punk is all about. It was never just about the fashion or the haircut, it was always about the statement, a statement borne of compassion and unity, not born with a silver spoon in it’s mouth.
I don’t see a country, mired in a monarchistic, Tory smash-and-grab mentality, having the balls to effect necessary, radical change.
Our European cousins, proven in the crucible of meaningful revolution, have a pedigree which Jaz Coleman described, in reference to the Killing Joke track, ‘European Super State’, as follows, “The origins of the European Union are Jan Huss from Prague in the 1600s. His original idea is worth studying because it’s based on the arts, it’s based on spirituality. At that time Prague was a bastion of hermeticism and Rosicrucianism and alchemy against the Roman Catholic church, so it’s worth looking at our roots there”. The essence is there, all we have to do is save it, and ourselves, from the cancer of corruption.
I’m not kidding myself that EU “politics” are much, if any, better than what passes for democracy on the shores of this sick man of Europe. My faith however does lie in a wider populace, unfettered by backwoods regionalism, and emboldened by the tantalising glimpse, of true liberté, égalité and fraternité…
‘Little England‘ is but one of ten incendiary tracks on Slow Faction’s critically acclaimed 2014 album, ‘The Brixton Tapes‘. They also have a clutch of EP’s under their belt, including the recent Woody Guthrie inspired, ‘This Machine Kills Fascists‘ – “These compositions are directly influenced by the current political climate. As John Youens says, the right wing is on the rise and also, there appears to be an open tolerance of racism and racist language in the mainstream media. It is up to everyone to challenge this and to fight for the improvements we have made in this country in terms of the relations between different cultures and not allow the clock to be turned back to less tolerant times.”
The success of music, as with other art forms, lies in it’s ability to question, in it’s ability to educate, and in it’s ability to make you want to change things for the better – if you don’t want these things, you’re not listening properly.
The question is simple – Do you want to help or simply help yourself? The politics of need will triumph over the politics of greed…