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The idea for this article came to me after a few too many red bulls and about an hour of listening to anarchist folk punk. Somehow, the idea was okayed. I did have to promise not to get too political, but that might be a relative term. Vive la Révolution!
The association between punk and Anarchism is as natural as any union could be. Both mentalities have a strong focus on DIY, whether aesthetically or regulatory. Both are distinctly anti-establishment. The Sex Pistols ‘God Save The Queen’ is a prime example of both, even if the band’s main focus has shifted to being dead or selling butter as of late. For me, there can be no finer example of Anarchism in music than folk-punk. I mean, sure I’m biased towards folk music, but the essence of folk-punk is essentially the same as that of old punk. The DIY aesthetic remains, even when it’s now much easier to have albums professionally recorded and released. The rejection of the establishment has actually increased: the folk-punks no longer follow the established norms of punk, playing with instruments such as cellos, harmonicas, banjos, and even accordions.
Ramshackle Glory provide a perfect fusion of folk, punk, and Anarchism on their 2011 album ‘Live the Dream’. The songs focus on the futility of elections of centre-right vs centre-left (or even just plain centre vs centre) addiction and recovery, friendships and betrayal – all played with an obvious Anarchist overview, as frontman Pat “The Bunny” Schneeweis always does. Except that as of last year, he officially quit both Anarchism and Punk. Ah well, the tunes still stand.
It would be impossible to write an article on politically infused music without mentioning folk legend Billy Bragg. While most artists avoid politics as a whole, or progress to talking politics when they feel more comfortable with the issue, Bragg has been an outspoken socialist and activist almost his entire career. His top hits include ‘There Is Power in a Union’, played at practically every socialist gathering ever (including rallies for Jeremy Corbyn), that time he took Boris Johnson to Glastonbury and mocked his pronunciation of “Glahs-ton-burry”, and ‘The Internationale’. His music often contains revolutionary themes, though he is astutely in favour of democratic socialism. Few can communicate such overtly political themes and appeal to so many people, but Bragg consistently draws in thousands.
Next week I'll be talking about the skinhead subculture in regards to its own unique politics. Check back soon for that!
Mad Alice Records is an Independent record label that strives to support local artists and talent. We pride ourselves on being a Non-genre specific label, and aim to meet the needs of all artists. We offer a range of services, from recording and production to management and branding.