Once again, I’ve been digging into the suggestion archives this week and picking up on another subject that I asked about aeons ago and never got ’round to using.
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /294/Strength to Endure /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/125 /Used Prior/28 /Unique Songs/94 /People Suggesting/53
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/9 /Duration/39:19
This one goes back a long way, too. This was the 42nd suggestion thread, back in Jun-18 (I’ve asked for suggestions on over 160 threads as of this week), and I’m not quite sure why I didn’t use it at the time.
Anyway, more recent events have perhaps provided fresh impetus to this one, with a variety of uses of power being shown in these ten songs, and there is a content warning for discussion of abuse and racism/far-right politics.
Thanks, as ever, to everyone who suggested songs, and I guess this week is proof that they all get considered in the end, even if it takes a bit of time!
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Get In The Ring
Originally recorded, of course, by Snap!, but I’m including this crackling nu-metal take by fellow Germans H-Blockx instead – and they do, of course, still feature original rapper Turbo B. on part of the song. It is very much a song of its time, this thumping rap-metal version comes from 2002 (and is that a sample from Another Body Murdered I hear, too?) and is a muscular, masculine track to its core, that’s for sure. What they have the power of, though, I’m not really sure.
/Big Bad Baby Pig Squeal
One of the more notorious, ferocious indie bands in the early nineties, perhaps their defining statement remains this bruising three-minutes of rampaging rock. Lesley Rankie howls her way through a raised middle-finger to misogynists and people who thought women couldn’t “rock”, with the iconic chorus refrain “Hips, Tits, Lips, Power” that made it onto countless t-shirts since, and is a mighty display of female power. Other album Fat Axl was remastered and reissued a few years ago (and sounds great), now, how about Organ Fan?
These metal lords had already announced themselves with their earlier, spaced-out and stoner metal (Negasonic Teenage Warhead being the best example of that), but Powertrip as an album saw them step up. The production was planet-sized, the riffs as huge, and perhaps Dave Wyndorf’s ego wasn’t far off. Some of the songs on the album perhaps dragged on a bit, but the mighty title track, from the instantly recognisable opening riff to Wyndorf’s closing howl, doesn’t waste a second. Wyndorf is so cool, and so sure he’s going to be a planet-straddling star, that he’s done a deal with the Gods to ensure all is fine for him, and this song is a devastating display of a band – and singer – at the very peak of their considerable powers.
/Rage Against The Machine
/Take The Power Back
/Rage Against The Machine
Back on their 1992 debut, Rage Against The Machine made strong use of their major-label backing to make a host of political statements and agitation, on one of the best produced, best sounding albums I own. Seriously, the production is flawless, and indeed is traditionally one of the albums that I use to test new audio kit. Take The Power Back is one of the best exemplars here, too, as Zach de la Rocha seethes at forced conformity and the falsity of the “American Dream”, agitating instead for change that begins in the classroom (teaching children anew, rather than the same old propaganda) and evolves as people grow and learn.
Thirty years on, and little has changed – indeed things may have regressed, as a recent article noted that most of the ruling class in the US are now double the average age of the population. Change must come from the young.
/Vulgar Display of Power
One of those songs that absolutely bristles with power, Walk is, in the cold light of day, a song of toxic masculine power writ large. All roaring riffage, drum beats like punching fists, and Phil Anselmo offering the world out for a fight for daring to disrespect him.
Sadly, these days, the question is what kind of power? The allegations of “White Power” associations won’t go away after the 2016 controversy, and indeed planned German shows as part of their “reunion” (of course, only including a couple of original members now) were cancelled only recently.
/Nine Inch Nails
/Big Man With A Gun
/The Downward Spiral
The shortest track on the sprawling beast that is The Downward Spiral is also one of the most intense, but it also rather satirises the kind of masculine power that Pantera embodied. Here, with thundering drums and jagged guitars, and a morass of electronics, Trent Reznor sneers at men who use their power and strength to abuse and terrify, as if it is the only way to get sexual thrills (the conflation between guns and phallic imagery here, of course, is deliberate). The song last justs over a minute and a half, and the way it just keeps building means it could only ever stop dead.
/I Hold Your Heart
One of the bleakest songs on Dubstar’s immaculate comeback album is also one of the brightest, sunniest musically. As the triumphant brass sweeps through a retro-soul sound, Sarah Blackwood tells a story of spousal abuse and control, told from the point of view of the abuser, which makes the song only the more devastating. I believe the official term is coercive control, and it makes me angry that such appalling abuse still happens – and indeed seems to being recognised as happening more.
/Tears for Fears
/Everybody Wants to Rule The World
/Songs From the Big Chair
Everyone wants power, right? Everyone wants their chance, saying at some point “If I ruled the world…”? Tears for Fears rather put that idea into song in their massive 1985 hit, as they assessed the rush for global domination and threat of mutually assured destruction at the time. Not exactly enamoured with environmental destruction even then, in less than five minutes they remind that having power has consequences – not that, it seems, anyone was listening.
/Equal Rights, Equal Lefts
I close out this week with two songs whose assessment of power rather resonates in current struggles today. Later nu-metal artist Otep Shamaya has continued their furious rap-metal attack for two decades now, with a progressive, pro-LGBTIQ+ stance that promotes inclusivity and kicks down, viciously, on bigotry. This track is perhaps the best example of all of this, as Otep roars back against those who choose to discriminate against people who have different lifestyles to them – and indeed legislate against them too. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – other people’s sexual orientations or gender status are none of your fucking business, and we should be allies, not enemies, of people still fighting for their rights to exist.
/Idlers and Skivers (Knockin’ at the Door)
/Doin’ The Manch
One of the regular British folk suggestions that I get turned out to be exactly the right song, at exactly the right time. This is an a capella West Yorkshire folk song that compares the plight of the working man of the past to the working man of today, noting the post-Second World War settlement that resulted in the NHS, but that little else changed. Certainly in the three decades since this was written, wages have slid back again, opportunities have been narrowed, and the future for young workers looks worryingly bleak. In the meantime, strikes continue across a host of disciplines, as the Tories continue to be uninterested in helping anyone but themselves. Workers have power, and – at least for now – the right to strike, but sadly that power means little without political will, it seems.