Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can Anyone Write a Protest Song?

Hello Friends,

As we move closer to the G8 and G20 summits here in Ontario - I can't help but reflect on good old fashion protest songs. History has shown that these are the times in which some of the best music is made. It brings out real emotion and ideas for bands/artists to write some of their finest stuff.

Punk music is a genre that started and revolves around the protest. It's not the only genre making their voices heard though and so over the years we've seen some powerful recordings released that reflect times and change. Here's a few beautiful tracks that come to my mind.

The Beatles - 'Revolution' - This tune reflects a transition in time for the Beatles from the trippy days of Sgt. Pepper to a more open minded band that wanted to see changes in the world. It's kind of hard to see that's what they were getting at as this particular tune conjurs up memories of Nike running shoes :(

Cat Stevens - 'Peace Train' one of the most classic anti-war tunes of all time. Title speaks for itself. Well done Yusuf.

Bob Marley - 'Redemption Song' - Lyrics reflect on a speach give by Marcus Garvey in 1937 about slavery.

Sex Pistols - 'God Save The Queen' this single was release on the day of Queen Elizebeth's silver jubilee in 1977 as a big fuck you to the British Monarchy. More . Original lyrics and song entitled 'God Save The Queen' aka the actual National Anthem for England.

Public Enemy - 'Fight the Power' released in 1989 on the soundtrack to Spike Lee's 'Do The Right Thing' this is track served as a Civil Rights protest song that touched on many monumental speaches and movements throughout history.

Sam Cooke - 'Change Gonna Come' Inspired by Bob Dylan's ability to write a protest song - Sam put pen to paper and du up all the inner battles he had been dealing with as he grew to pop stardom in a white world. This is by far one of the my favourite recordings of all time. So very powerful. Everyone needs a little Sam Cooke in their lives.

Manic Street Preachers - 'Let Robeson Sing' a tribute to Black American actor, singer and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson. This chorus is killer when you see them live in concert.

The Clash - 'Rock the Casbah' this song is a look at an Arab King's ban on Rock Music (wiki page). If you don't own any Clash records/recordings - then do yourself a favour and pick-up 'The Story Of The Clash'

Billy Bragg - 'Sexuality' This track is an anti-homophobia and general sex-positive message tune that had The Smith guitarist Johnny Marr and Kirsty McColl on backing vocals. One hell of a track and very powerful lyrics.

Happy G8/20 to you and yours.

Thanks for reading/listening.

Gregg Stewart

Monday, June 14, 2010

Holy Shit Have You Heard These?

Hello Friends,

I've been all over the map of late in terms of what I've been listening to. It started with shuffle last week when it decided to serve me up some classic Tragically Hip in the form of the 'Up To Here' album. I then decided to give Gord Downie's new album a full listen and I'm glad I did as it's beautiful.

As the week came to a close I found myself listening to lots of great NEW music. From new Chemical Brothers, Ladies of the Canyon, Sleigh Bells and my personal new favourite (I know it's not brand new) Two Door Cinema Club. It keeps coming - the world must be a mess - as history shows music is always at it's best when there's stuff like war and conflict happening. Maybe we've just turned a corner as humans. Whatever it is - keep it coming. I digress...

I'd love for you to check out a quick 5 suggestions when you can. I promise they will make you smile.
Thanks for reading/listening.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's the simple things like the robots Stevie G draws...

Hello Friends,

It's only Tuesday and there's already so much going on in Toronto. I personally had a late Monday so missed out on 2 big shows tonight including Billy Talent at The Horseshoe and The National at Massey Hall. Although seeing Billy Talent at The Shoe would have been amazing - it was well worth a rough start to a Tuesday morning for a late night seeing British rockers Athlete at Lee's Palace.

It's always strange to meet a band face-to-face as you really don't know what to say to them other than stating the obvious "I love your tunes". Thankfully most musicians really just want to chat about music...and these guys did just that. It was a pleasure to have now met them.

Athlete's now released 4 full length albums - each with its own collection of gems. I can't honestly remember how I heard about them - but it was likely via the hit single 'Wires' from the sophomore album Tourist back in 2004. I soon came to learn of the debut release Vehicles & Animals which housed many melodic greats as well. I've always been partial to the title track from that album and had totally pictured the lyrics to be about Liverpool FC midfielder Steven Gerrard. It turns out that Stevie G. is a mate of the band and and has nothing to do with Anfield's hero. Oh well - I guess that's the beauty of all music - it's open to interpretation.

The band and their crew were super friendly and an all round great night was had by all pre, post and during their tour stop in Toronto. Thanks lads.

Here's a quick beginner's guide to those of you who may not be familiar with Athlete body of work.
In some sad news, Stuart Cable, the former drummer to Stereophonics passed away yesterday. I had the pleasure of meeting Stuart at one of their gigs at Toronto's Kool Haus back in 2003. He was a genuinely nice fella from what I recall. He provided a pulse to the early Phonics tunes and gave us some great music along the way, you will be missed.

Here's a few tunes to celebrate Stuart...
Thanks for reading/listening,

Gregg Stewart

Friday, June 4, 2010

Couple of Top Tunes for a Friday

Hello Friends,

It's still happening. It's a great time in music right across the board from albums, singles, tours and classics. Maybe it's the weather? Whatever it is there's something great happening in music right now to make everyone smile.

This post is a quick one just to give you a few suggestions to get you through the day and ready for the weekend.

Here are a few killer new tracks and a couple of classics for you.

Have a great weekend!

Thanks for reading/listening,