Sunday, 10 January 2016

War! What Is It Good For? (A Music chart at least0

For my first themed music chart of 2016 I thought I'd reflect the world situation and offer you songs about war, armies and soldiers. I'd done an earlier chart about weapons which can be viewed here. So put on your tin hats and ATTENTION!

1) Jona Lewie - "Stop The Cavalry"
An anti-war song for Christmas that went to Number one. Juxtaposes the subject of war with an upbeat brass section. Whatever happened to Jonah Lewie I wonder?

2) XTC - "Generals And Majors"
XTC were an interesting band who tried to forge a British rock sound that wasn't based around US blues. They had lots of reasonably placed records in the singles chart, and I used to own all their albums, but there was always something just a bit brittle and light about their sound to my ear.

3) Angelic Upstarts - "Last Night Another Soldier"
Punk rock  was of course very anti-war and with the ongoing 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland until the new millennium, there were plenty of songs of protest about the military. I wonder in the current climate of terrorist threat whether you could still pen such songs? Lead singer Thomas 'Mensi' Mensforth was an ex-soldier (citation needed). As was Billy Bragg. So I guess they know of what they sing

4) Gang of Four - "He'd Send In The Army"
You can sing directly about war and its abominations, or you can use war itself as an oblique metaphor for all human relationships and conflict at its heart. Like Gang Of Four do.

5) Killing Joke - "Wardance"
Killing Joke landed on the scene at punk and new wave were on their last legs and brought us a tribal electronic throb. Lead singer Jaz Coleman was very interested in paganism and this song brings all that together.

6) Abba - "Super Trooper"
and by way of complete contrast... You couldn't get a less warlike song. From the group that brought you the blood and guts of "Waterloo"

7) White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army"
A song immune fro ruin despite being appropriated by football crowds into their terrace chants. For a duo, they sure made a racket.

8) Massive (Attack) - "Five Man Army"
From the band who dropped the 'Attack' part of their own name in deference for Britain going to war in Gulf. Still, singer/rapper Tricky made recompense by producing a brilliant cover version of Public Enemy's track "Black Steel in The Hour Of Chaos" about Afro-Americans being  disproportionately conscripted.

9) Spizz Energi - "Soldier Soldier"
Always a bit of a joke band, not least because they kept changing their name, this was one of their more forceful numbers, even if the video is throwaway campery.

10) Elvis Costello And The Attraction - "Oliver's Army"
Not the official military, but a song about mercenary fighters, broadened out for an overview of world geopolitics. From someone looking so young in this video too!

11) Stiff Little Fingers - "Tin Soldier"
Well SLF were from Ulster, so I guess they were entitled to ding about 'The Troubles' since they were living right in the middle of it. Until presumably they moved to London to have music careers... I do however remember singing along to this and punching my hand in the air to the chorus.

12) Pink Floyd - "Corporal Clegg"
An hallucinogenic take on the military, from the UK, why not?

13) Minutemen - "Just Another Soldier"
Was there ever a political protest band as committed as the Minutemen? Many of their songs were anti-war, replacing indignation with the Vietnam campaign of their musical influences, with those of the goings on under Reagan in Central America.

14) Ramones - "Bliztkrieg Bop"
Blitzkrieg was an apt description of the Ramones' attack on their instruments. Sadly this song has been appropriated by a UK home delivery service. One without drones.

15) The Jam - "Little Boy Soldiers"
Colonialism causes war, Paul Weller said so. And yet all his stage and album imagery embraced the nationalism of the Union Jack...

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