Friday 12 April 2013

My Top Ten Revolution Songs

I did consider a Top Ten Thatcher Songs but held off for two reasons.

Firstly, Any Major Dude With Half A Heart beat me to it - with 20 of the buggers!

Secondly, my take on the public reaction to this event is one of fascination rather than jubilation. I don't see much value in celebrating the death of any old lady, whatever her many sins. Especially when the policies and ideologies she promoted are alive and well today, some might say stronger than ever. When they die, I'll be first in line for a party...

I am amused by the effect on the pop charts though, with Judy Garland, Elvis Costello and Hefner (among others) all enjoying huge sales this week. As someone who used to work in radio, I can only imagine the hair-pulling that's going on about whether those records will get played during this weekend's chart countdown. It's like the reverse of what happened with Elton John's godawful remake of Candle In The Wind when Diana died, only it's led by the public rather than the record companies, and it can now happen instantly rather than us all sitting around and waiting for Elton to get in a studio. (That said, I now have a perverse desire to see Elton record a new version of Candle... dedicated to Maggie. And watch him get stoned to death in Barnsley for doing it.) 

Anyway, as I say, what's happened really doesn't change anything in our world. (Although I'll probably have to rewrite the script for Too Much Sex & Violence #6. Again.) What we really need to make things better... is a revolution. Or Ten...

Special mention to Revolution 9 (John Moore's old band) and Prince's original backing troupe.

10. Luke Haines - The Heritage Rock Revolution

It's a middle-aged rampage... now!

9. Transvision Vamp - Revolution Baby 

Wendy and co. go stealing riffs from Bolan, which seems appropriate under the circumstances. This narrowly beat The Cult, which would have been a cooler 80s choice... but less honest. 

8. The Clash - Revolution Rock

Tell your ma, tell your pa - everything's gonna be all right. Uncle Joe says so.

7. Neil Young - Revolution Blues

Neil goes all serial killer on us. Like he wasn't scary enough beforehand.

6. Steve Earle - The Revolution Starts... Now
Last night I had a dream
That the world had turned around
And all our hopes had come to be
And the people gathered ‘round
They all brought what they could bring
And nobody went without
And I learned a song to sing
The revolution starts now
5. Pulp - The Day After The Revolution

The closing track from my favourite album of the 90s. A pretty dark affair, but Jarvis couldn't help leaving us on an optimistic note...
I have waited and waited for this day to arrive.
The revolution was televised.
Now it's over, bye bye.
It's over, bye bye.
It wasn't their last album, but they couldn't have written a more fitting epitaph to Britpop. 

4. Tracy Chapman - Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
While they`re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Don’t you know?
They’re talkin’ bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
3. T-Rex - Children of the Revolution

As testament to how strong this Top Ten is - in any other countdown, this would be #1 with a silver bullet.
has been covered by everyone from Lloyd Cole to the Violent Femmes, Kirsty MacColl to Soulwax... but I'm sure they'd all agree Marc did it best.

2. Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

One of the coolest records ever recorded, this came so very close...
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to stay home, brother. 
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip, 
Skip out for beer during commercials, 
Because the revolution will not be televised.
...but in the end, I thought I'd go for a surprise choice:

1. The Beatles - Revolution

I'm always wary about giving a Number One to the Beatles - they had plenty before I even got here. But as much as I burnt out on this ubiquitous uber-band in my early 20s and can only cope with them in small doses nowadays, I still consider this song one of their greatest achievements. That guitar intro alone is one of the most exciting noises you'll ever hear. On the other hand, much as I consider The White Album their finest hour, I always thought Revolution 9 was a bag of cock.

There are many fine covers of this song including Grandaddy, Alice Cooper (with Johnny Depp) ... and, of course, Billy Bragg. But none of them rip your heart out from the first note like this does... 

Come the revolution, who'll be first against your wall?


  1. I would love to say I enjoy listening to Transvision Vamp. But I don't. I do enjoy the videos though. That makes me sad. I must track down the Lloyd Cole version of Children of the revolution..thanks

    1. It's on his amusing titled Cleaning Out The Ashtrays compilation. I think I may have seen him do it live too.

  2. Killing Joke - Rubicon: "Revolution / points of no return"

    1. And that's your Killing Joke track of the week covered.

  3. Does anyone know who owns the rights to Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead?. Everyone is going to feel pretty stupid next week if they find out they have just made Rupert Murdoch even richer.

    1. George Osborn bought them earlier this year. Well, I say "bought". Actually, he just swapped a couple of hospitals for them.

  4. Good old George Osbourne. Now there's a man who deserves a state funeral. Preferably next week.

    I do find it amusing that the Tories and the Daily Mail are complaining that Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead being no.1 is in poor taste, when last week both of them were comparing everyone on benefits to a bloke who killed six kids. Compared to that, nothing is offensive.

    1. They'll be even more upset if Tramp The Dirt Down gets to #2.

  5. Quite like Flower of Scotland too...and the Ballad of James Connelly...

    1. I'll let you have the Scottish & Irish, but I have to draw the line at Les Miz.

  6. I agree - Revolution is one of the Beatles best, but Revolution 9 is their worst.

    Another one for the list is Age of Revolution by the Duckworth Lewis Method.

    1. Duckworth Lewis came close - I'm a huge Neil Hannon fan.

  7. Don't ask why I'm two and a half years late commenting on this, but here I am, casting my tardy vote for Billy Bragg's Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards, which informs us "the revolution is just a t-shirt away" and advises us to "start your own revolution and cut out the middleman".

  8. I'm even later to the party! I'm surprised Muse's 'Uprising' isn't here, it has beautiful harmony vocals and an awesome synth riff.

  9. Nice suggestions, guys, but I was restricting myself to titles only for this one.

  10. Satellite by Rise Against
    Amazing song for these times.

  11. I'm even later to the party
    The Revolution Starts at Closing Time by Srious Drinking

    1. And closing time has arrived :) So time to brush up the most relatable revolution songs

  12. This is brill, added a couple I hadn't heard of to my list...


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