JackGYarwood

A selection of reviews, blog posts and other jottings of interest.

Posts from the “Music” Category

Interview: Steve Ignorant – a celebration of Crass

Posted on May 8, 2015

Few bands have been quite so successful outside of the mainstream as the anarcho-punk group Crass. During their career, the group received virtually no radio airplay, yet they have attained a dedicated following that lives on even today. Crass formed in 1977, after lead singer Steve Ignorant saw The Clash play live, and immediately decided to form a group. When he found most of his friends had either been married or had taken on other commitments, he decided to visit his old friend Penny Rimbaud. Steve states: “Just in passing, he said ‘well, what are you up to now?’ I went ‘oh, I’m going to start a punk band.’ He went ‘I’ve got a drum kit. I’ll play drums for you.” From there, the…

Punky Reggae Party – Two Cultures Clash

Posted on May 8, 2015

Though British punk never really accomplished social and political upheaval, it did achieve many wonderful things that are worthy of being celebrated. One such achievement was its ability to bring together unfamiliar cultures by an incorporation of foreign styles, such as ska and reggae. But how did reggae and punk happen to become intertwined, and what effect did this have on both genres and their fans? In 1948, Britain suffered a labour shortage due to the losses sustained in World War II. This led to an appeal for workers from the Commonwealth and the British Empire, with ads appearing overseas to actively promote migration to the “mother country”. In the same year the Windrush, an ex-cruise ship, landed at Tilbury near London, carrying the…

The Miner’s Strike and the politics of punk

Posted on May 7, 2015

Punk music in the UK was arguably a response to the poor conditions of living during James Callaghan’s time as Labour Prime Minister. Though it wasn’t until Thatcher came to power that punk really hit its political stride. One specific example of this is when punk came out in support of the miners during the 1984-85 strikes. In the late 1970s, under Callaghan, both unemployment and inflation were rising, whilst public spending was being cut. These conditions caused the first wave of the punk explosion to occur, with bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash forming as a response to the dismal realities of 1970’s British life. This initial movement that began under Callaghan’s reign in Downing Street would provide a perfect base…

Punk in Africa: The sound of resistance

Posted on May 6, 2015

Punk music has never really had an easy time, but never has that statement been truer than in South Africa during apartheid. Not only were records by alternative artists not played, they were destroyed and legislated. Up until the early 1980s there had been only one mainstream band that had dared to be multi-racial, the music group Juluka. In fact, prior to this, it had been illegal for musicians of different ethnic backgrounds to perform together in a public place under the Separate Amenities Act of 1953. This didn’t deter the punks however. In Johannesburg, something was beginning to happen. In the 1970s, a number of promising musicians, from a variety of different backgrounds, started to form punk bands. Bands such as National Wake,…

Something Special: Horace Panter interviewed

Posted on May 6, 2015

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, The Specials were a rare group that successfully combined a political message with mainstream appeal. Their style, which combined the infectious rhythms of Jamaican ska with the social commentary of punk, continues to be an influence of many musicians, including contemporary artists such as Lily Allen and Tricky. Horace Panter (A.K.A Sir Horace Gentleman) was their bassist at the height of the group’s popularity, present as The Specials took the world by storm with acclaimed singles like ‘Ghost Town’ and ‘A Message To You Rudy’. Talking to him about the origins of the band’s more political side, he states: “When I was 10 I was in The Searchers fan club because I liked the way Tony Jackson…

The Staves // RNCM Manchester // Saturday 2nd November 2013

Posted on November 5, 2013

The audience file into the concert hall; the performers tonight are The Staves, an acoustic folk trio from Watford, Hertfordshire. They have recently received acclaim with the release of their debut album, Dead & Born & Grown. The crowd within the hall seat themselves. The gig is about to begin. Stepping out first onto the stage is the support act, Christof; he is a singer-songwriter hailing originally from Holland. Christof quietly takes to the stage with the rest of his band. They pick up their instruments and begin to play their opening song. There is a shy aura about the musician, though this dissipates quickly as he strikes an opening chord. Amongst the memorable songs of his performance are the tracks ‘Love’s Glory’ and…

An Evening with Josh Ritter // RNCM, Manchester // Monday 28th October 2013

Posted on October 31, 2013

Stumbling in from the rain the audience take their seats within the concert hall; the stage is dressed for the night ahead. At the back of the concert hall looms a gigantic blue eye staring out towards the crowd. After a short wait, the lights dim and the audience let out a cheer. A female musician takes her place at the center of the stage; this is Tift Merritt, an American singer-songwriter from North Carolina. She plays through a collection of her tracks, originating from the vast supply of material she has gathered over the years. The audience is entranced. After the first couple of songs, she turns to her microphone and comments wryly: “I have never seen Manchester so well behaved before.” Amongst…

Manic Street Preachers /w/ Public Service Broadcasting @ The Ritz, Manchester 27/09/2013

Posted on September 29, 2013

The crowd packs tightly into the standing area opposite the stage. Two characters appear before them on the platform; they are Public Service Broadcasting, a London-based musical duo and tonight’s support act. Firing into a track off their War Room EP, titled ‘London Can Take It’, the two musicians waste no time in getting the crowd excited for the night’s event. By borrowing material from old public information films and adopting samples of news broadcasts into their work, they create an interesting aesthetic appeal to both their sound and their stage presence, which quite easily separates them from their more run-of-the-mill contemporaries. Their stand out tracks include ‘Theme From PSB’, a song which incorporates the traditional sound of a banjo into a modern blend…

Discovering Record Store Day

Posted on April 19, 2013

With the closure of numerous HMV stores up and down the country and the rise in downloading content amongst consumers, it is growing more and more important for independent businesses to offer unique experiences to their customers. This is so that they can tempt people away from their online competitors and back into stores. An example of a unique experience offered by record stores in this manner is Record Store Day, a hugely successful event spread globally amongst small independent stores. Founded in 2007 as a way to celebrate music and record stores, it is an annual event, offering a wide range of activities and limited edition releases exclusive to participating stores. Within the event’s relatively short history, these exclusives have included those released…

Band of Horses /w/ Goldheart Assembly @ Manchester Academy 19/11/2012

Posted on November 22, 2012

With over a thousand people bundled into Manchester’s Academy 1 the perception of Mondays as being dull and encumbered affairs was surely proven wrong. The support act arriving at all was a relief in itself to the growing crowd, as Goldheart Assembly took to the stage with heaps of energy, and a raucous sound amidst more melodic verses. Earlier in the day the band had worried their fans, via Twitter, with three of the five members confessing that they had missed their ferry from Belfast. However, as they launched into their set the panic was over. The Beatle-esque tunes and frenzied shouts coalescing to stir the crowd into a generous show of appreciation. Amongst the standout tracks of their performance were ‘So Long St.…