Interview: The Wet One
Bad Boss: Like A Bastard
Unions: Demolition Derby
Corporate: The Bush Doctrine
Politics: American Jihad
Health: Secret Country
Review: Walking On Water
Poetry: The UQ Stonewall
Month In Review
The Locker Room
The Legacy of 11/9
The CFMEU Race Debate #2
Keeping it Clean
Sue the Leaders?
Wrong Way, Go Back
Shame on Murray
Use or Abuse of Long Term Casuals
Speaking in Tongues
Songs of Solidarity
In 1915 Ralph Chaplin wrote Solidarity Forever, an anthem for the Industrial Workers of the World that's still widely used today. The 1930's saw Woodie Guthrie rise to prominence with songs including This Land Is Your Land and Union Maid, while the social movements of the 60's brought with them a plethora of political folk-pop songs like Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues. Even the self-indulgent 80's were able to breed urban poet Billy Bragg who assured us that There Is Power In A Union, while Oz rocker Jimmy Barnes gave a shout out to the Working Class Man.
Fast forward to the year 2000 and beyond, and there seems to be a shortage of bands and solo artists ready to take on the challenge to write about the issues faced by working people.
That's why, at the beginning of 2002, the NSW Labor Council ran a Worker's Song Competition through the Australian music website Wobbly Radio. We weren't sure what to expect when we called for submissions - but we were more than pleasantly surprised when we received over 100 submissions straddling a broad range of music genres.
In fact the diversity and quality of entries was so good that after the $5000 prize money was awarded, it was decided that we couldn't now let all these great entries disappear.
So the decision was made to put together MayDay MayDay - Songs Of Solidarity, a compilation CD showcasing 17 great pro-worker tunes from artists in NSW, Victoria, Canberra, Western Australia and Tasmania.
In recent decades hip-hop has been the musical voice of many social movements, so it's fitting that the competition winner (and album opener) comes from Sydney based MC Swarmy G. Mayday is a driving tune with an open call for solidarity. More hip-hop beats can be heard courtesy of Perth's Optamus, while the Bidston Moss Duo explore the crossover between hip-hop, rock and blues with their contribution.
If guitars are more your thing, there are plenty of places to find them on the compilation. The Long Weekend offer a song-along guitar pop tune, closely followed by the fun harmonies of Melbourne's Dogbite. Things get a bit more rockin' with longtime musical activists the Urban Guerillas, and then there's a couple of retro styled pop tunes from Mahuia Cooper and Loaf.
At the more folk flavoured end of the spectrum Peter Hicks teams up with the Hobart Grass Roots Union Choir to capture the true spirit of 60's protest songs. Craig Pinkney offers a beautiful acoustic balled, countered by John Hospodaryk's dark, angry delivery of a historically based government critique. And Ginger Tom blend slide and acoustic guitars with plaintive vocals.
Finally there are the electronic contributions. Up near the front is Beam Up's funky ode to Melbourne's now defunct tram conductors, while further down the list you'll find the quirky industrial electronica of EYE, and the harsh beat driven track produced by Adam Lincoln and Karl Learmont.
The album ends with the rousing epic We'll Take No Shit From You by Zoltan's Brother, a timely warning to the companies and governments who choose to ignore the rights of working people.
May Day, May Day - Songs of Solidarity will be launched in the Roma Room, at the Metro Theatre, George Street, Sydney - Wednesday October 30 - 7.30pm till late - performances from Bernie Hayes, Urban Guerillas, Swarmy G, The Long Weekend and Ginger Tom
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