26 September 2005

Aztec Camera - The Red Flag


It's the Labour Party Conference this week, so I'm posting two versions of its founding anthem, now an anachronistic call to socialism whose lyrics have about as much relevance to the modern Labour Party as Motorhead's version of Louie Louie.

First up is Aztec Camera's version, from the B-side of the How Men Are single. This comes from a funny time, the mid-late 1980s when Thatcher was winning her third election, hopes of nuclear disarmament were crushed underfoot, a majority of British teenagers believed they would die in a nuclear war, the miners had been broken and with them went, for all time, any real hope of strength in trade unions.

But these worries and struggles had galvanised those of us who opposed. Flailing around in the cess-tides of monetarist greed and arrogance, emboldened by the resilience and comradeship we saw among the miners and their supporters, there was this widespread feeling that somehow socialism was an imminent off-the-peg answer and - even more implausibly - Neil Kinnock's Labour Party would deliver it.

It's easy to look back now and see those times as the abandonment of the socialist dream, as Labour deliberately letting the miners be beaten, as the germination of the Blair tory-lite nightmare, that the old flags were tired and that the party should have ended conference with a chorus of 'we'll sing the red flag once a year'.

But back then, for many, that's where genuine hope lay. Worthy, intelligent people like The Smiths, Jerry Dammers, Tom Robinson, Paul Weller and, er, Bananarama signed up to Red Wedge, a sort of Labour Rock The Vote thing.

And Aztec Camera, hardly the most political band, recorded this version of The Red Flag. On the B-side of the strong, wise yet understated How Men Are, this simple piano and vocal version of The Red Flag shows off that wonderful purity and yearning in Roddy Frame's voice, that dry, plaintive yet consoling lightness and honesty he does so well, removing all the bombast and mumble usually associated with the song.

[mp3 deleted to make way for new ones. Sorry!]


Anonymous said...

hi, great site. did you ever post a red wedge move on up link?


merrick said...

sorry, I don't have move On Up (or any other Red Wedge live stuff)

good luck finding it elsewhere