0 Rebel Rock: The Politics of Popular Music John Street (Basil

Blackwell £19.50: £6.95 paperback) 0 Beating Time: Riot 'n’ Race 'n' Rock ’n' Roll David Widgery

((‘hatto £6.95)

Politics and popular music have been linked together since Presley first twitched his pelvis. Both the issues

and the music have changed over the

years but there has remained a

consistency ofspirit which allows for '6

reasoned argument. In Rebel Rock

John Street goes beyond the obvious ;

political content of the song and looks at the politics of actions. The musicians and the lyrics are only one

element (albeit the most important): .

the audience. market forces. broadcasting policy. and the prevailing political climate all exercise influence. l low they do this.and to what effect. is the subject ofStreet‘s argument. He writes

clearly and objectively. revealing his

musical tastes more by omission than inclusion. Street concludes that pop and

Waterstone’s September Diary

54—i‘h-e—List 22 Aug 4 Sept

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politics are uneasy partners. pop‘s inability to motivate is strongest when it combines ‘innovation with popularity". Musicians who manage this ‘are the ones who understand what the politics of pop are about‘. In reaching this concltision he pulls apart the myths and machinery of an industry. questions the limitations inherent in style and audience expectations and suggests reasons why ‘l-ive Aid‘ was such a success and why other musical movements have restricted force. “is knowledge of the business and music add interest to what is a complex proposition. Any band struggling to get a record deal could spare themselves a few disappointments by reading this book.

David Widge ry‘s Bearing Time is an example of how music can be used to promote a political cause. Rock Against Racism was initiated to combat the growth of violent racism. particularly the National Front. in Britain‘s inner cities. Widgery‘s account is personal and polemical. often reading like a socialist

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manifesto. He is in danger of alienating all but the most committed. The movement had a limited success. it brought the issues to the public's attention and it appears to have weakened support for the NF. But rock concerts can only achieve so much. Racism. as Widgery admits. is a moral issue depending on individual intelligence backed up by political changes.

It would be a pleasure to say that Widgery offers solutions and optimism. it would also be a relief to suggest that it will inspire sympathy and support. He doesn't and it won‘t. Widgery has written a diatribe. his judgements are glib. almost smug. His final statement speaks for itself; ‘An alternative to racism will not be effective ifit is presented by socialists who change sides. trade union leaders who adopt the mentality ofmiddle management. male revolutionaries who treat women like skivvies. or Marxists who turn Socialism into something as obscure as particle mechanics‘. (Tami Cushing-Allan)

oLove Unknown AN. Wilson (Hamish Hamilton £9.95) Fleet Street‘s youngest old fogey recently renounced reviewing. rather in the manner ofone fasting for Lent. I hope it will be good for his soul and his sanity. However. his regular and sensible denigration ofpretcntious claptrap and pseudo-scholarship will be missed but if this means more

at Waterstone’s

Friday 5th 8.00—9.30pm

Tuesday 16th 7.30—9.00pm

Wednesday 17th 8.00—9.30pm

Waterstone’s will be open till MIDNIGHT every night of the Festival

. * * FESTIVAL JAZZ—free! The John Burgess Quintet

Sunday 24 August, 2.30 4.30pm

The Early Victorian Brass Band

this authentically costumed band will play a selection of Victorian marches, glees and dance music

Meet RABBI LIONEL BLUE who will be signing copies of BOLT FROM THE BLUE and KITCHEN BLUES


creator of ’Rumpole' and author of PARADISE POSTPONED, now a Thames television series


fiction from his fecund pen, his small (though perfectly formed) band of admirers will be mollified.

Love Unknown is his thirteenth book. his ninth novel. and. as ever, A.N. Wilson writes with confidence and verve. displaying a relish which suggests he is having huge fun. Few contemporary novelists have the audacity to begin ‘Once upon a time‘ and then. adopting the high tone of omniscience. embark on a familiar story of true love going awry. as ifit were one ofthe world‘s seven wonders. The opening is palpably prehistoric. as emphasised in a flashback to the sixties when a date was impressed by the exoticism of a pizza.

Wilson takes three girls. flatsharers, marries one offand leaves the other two to gawp at their friends enduring and seemingly happy marriage to the eligible heir to a fortune built. literally, on sand. But. in this modern fairytale, conjugal reality is more grim than Grimm. Simon Longworth, let us not mince words, is a cad who leaves Richeldis to juggle domestic headaches while he swans around the City stuffing his Omar Sharif face and indulging in Ugandan manoeuvres.

Yet Monica and Linda/Belinda/Lady Mason are convinced by the idyll of Richeldis’ marriage for twenty years until they spot Simon at Fontainebleau. his secretary in tow and not about to