Saturday, 31 January 2015

War songs - 15 songs with a war theme

1) Pere Ubu - "30 Seconds Over Tokyo"
A song about the dropping of a nuclear bomb, even though neither of the two that were dropped were over Tokyo. Still, unnerving sounds for an uncomfortable track.

2) Mickey Dread - "World War Three"
I grew up in an era when we did talk about the possibility of a third world war with due seriousness and dread. But somehow, when transposed in a reggae idiom, it doesn't quite seem as apocalyptic.

3) DOA - "War In The East"
White man reggae, so yes the threat and menace are back in it. Still I like the almost jaunty rise in timbre of the line "War only brings destruction".

4) Dead Kennedys - "Chemical Warfare"
So you steal some chemical agent and who do you target with it? Only the Country Club Sunday golfers!

5) Minutemen - "Dream Told By Moto"
Yes we really did think about what would you do with the 4 minutes left of life before the bombs hit. And this seemed to be the unfailing response. Typical male perspective, 4 minutes being sufficient.

6) The Pogues - "The Battle Of Brisbane"
In which Shane Macgowan accompanies himself by beating a tin tray against his head.

7) The Clash - "Washington Bullets"
The Clash sing about Latin American politics, of the American government's interdiction against anything faintly Marxist on the continent and the murky world of drugs, guns and money deals.

8) Fund-a-mental - "Sbrebrenica Massacre"
From an album called "All is War", one of the angriest albums you will ever hear as they catalogue the West's campaigns against Muslim states. This is haunting.

9) Black Sabbath - "War Pigs"
Ozzy and Co po-faced for once rather than camping it up.

10) Flipper - "Sacrifice"
There is something primal and primeval about Flipper's basic sound and that seems to fit perfectly for this song.

11) Rage Against The Machine - "Killing In The Name Of"
I was never really into them, so this is about the only one of their songs I know and that really only from the crowdbombing campaign to get it to the Christmas Number One instead of some TV Talent show dreck.

12) Gang Of Four - "Armalite Rifle"
This was only ever a B-Side on a single, but demonstrates their political aesthetic which informed all their early songs.

13) Stiff Little Fingers - "Wasted Life"
The band from which I was the most spoiled for choice for songs about war, hardly surprising that they came from Belfast, but they managed throughout it all to remain pretty non-aligned, quite an achievement in that community torn by strife.

14) Ian Brown - "Illegal Attacks"
Ian Brown the spokesman for Britain's illegal invasion of Iraq with America, based on a fictitious report into Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons capability. It's a long way from Madchester's non-stop party vibe.

15) Discharge - "Visions of War"
Discharge, the band that would be invited to soundtrack the apocalypse.

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