A tribute to Tony Allen, by Emma-Jean Thackray
Looking (and acting) like a cross between Devo, Underground Resistance and The KLF (without actually sounding like any of them) Tottenham's Drones Club claim to be more a collective than a band. Off the back of their recent single 'The Dirty Road' (apparently written at dusk in Ibiza) their three front facing members have chosen the ten best political tracks.
Drones Club: "For Drones Club all music is a political statement – we are all products of our times whether we like it or not – a chef can only prepare what’s in the kitchen. We’ve identified below a few of our favourite dishes in the buffet."
Underground Resistance – Transition
"Detroit techno came out of the ruins of the American Dream: the great automotive factories of the midwest closed one by one impoverishing millions. Just as the music transmuted socio-economic pain into something joyous – the austerity of techno’s industrial aesthetic belies its ability to move the body and the heart. The physical spaces, abandoned warehouses and factories, were transformed into cathedrals of togetherness, dereliction became possibility, rhythm sprouting from the cracks. UR took things up a notch bringing together the virtuosos of the genre and infusing their technical ability with ideological drive. From a necessarily political context they went for the jugular of the mainstream with direct, revolutionary content."
MIA – Bad Girls
"MIA protests the (now overturned) driving ban for women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Haughty and deadpan she tells us straight ‘live fast die young, bad girls do it well’ and it’s an absolute scorcher of a track."
Demon Rockers – Iron Lady
"One of UK Dancehall’s most overtly political moments ‘The iron lady she no easy lord’ over the majestic Stalag Riddim."
Laurie Anderson – O Superman
"O Superman depicts an emotional rejection of the capitalist hellscape. Laurie Anderson posits a reality in which technology has failed us, delivers no justice, the human soul can bear no more and returns to Mom.
This is the essential crisis of the late 20th century in the west – the individual’s inability to cope with the tyranny of commerce, and her retreat. This song is sung where politics meets psychology, where a deep fracture occurred that disconnects people to this day."
Sun Ra – Door of the Cosmos
"If Laurie Anderson depicted retreat, Sun Ra dealt with the horrors of the 20th century by constructing an all-encompassing off-worldview. Sun Ra built a house at the confluence of spirituality, mysticism, ancient history, race & politics. He filled this house with all kind of cool shit, including some of the deepest music ever made. He showed art’s potential to create a new reality, that which makes humanity human: we make our own myth, something realer than real. Sun Ra is the sound of paradigmatic shift, anything is anything and nothing is fucked."
Ragga Twins – The Homeless Problem
"GaryPeckover in the comments hit the nail on the head when he said:
‘TAKES ME BACK TO THE BIRMINGHAM RAG MARKET RAVE !!!!!!!!!!!1
still going flakey to this day !
wot dont kill ya makes ya stronger’"
The Clash – Charlie Don’t Surf
"The Clash explore the world built by Kissinger at the bitter end of the 70s. A world ravaged by ideologically driven, realpolitikally enabled destruction and subjugation. A world where peoples became collateral damage in the deadly bump n grind between superpowers.
The Clash subverted the rocking and rolling bubblegum aesthetic of seaside USA and quoted one of Apocalypse Now’s darkest lines: Lt. Kilgore’s profoundly superficial justification for taking a beach at the Mekong Delta."
Shadia Mansour – Al Kufiyyeh 3arabeyyeh
"Shadia Mansour, the First Lady of Arabic Hip Hop tours Gaza with M1 of Dead Prez for this celebration of Arab identity and the revolutionary symbolism of the kufiya. With fiercely intelligent precision her verses infuse everything she does with clarity, purpose and swagger this is the perfect example."
Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues
"A song plays on the radio, it’s Marvin Gaye’s paean to struggle Inner City Blues: ‘…trigger happy policing… oh make me wanna holler and throw up both my hands…’
DRONE 1: ugh what a tune
*ring ring, ring ring* it’s the phone ringing
DRONE 1: (answers) Hello? Marvin mate! Yes! Didn’t expect to hear from you. Yeah? Umm, yeah, no it’s all sorted now. Yep. No, they just sorted it all out. Not an issue anymore. Hm? Yeah well everyone just decided that it was for the best and yeah, not a problem. Ok bye mate, yep, safe, safe, yep, bye.
DRONE 2: (looks up from his newspaper) You didn’t tell him?
DRONE 1: Didn’t have the heart mate."
ACEN – Close Your Eyes
"In the face of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act of 1994, dancing itself was a political act. The sampled refrain ‘close your eyes, forget your name, forget the world, go insane’ reflects a political choice through a refusal to engage, the rejection of the brogued & cardiganed Thatcherite homogeny, a rejection of the tyranny of reason, a rejection even of the avant-garde rock counter-movements the tune itself samples, a pure pagan throwback, further still, to where dancers become primordial, zygotic: amoebas in fluid, rushing their nut."
Drones Club 'The Dirty Road' is available to stream now.