dr feelgood

This Machine Kills Capitalism – Buy Thee Faction’s ‘Good Politics’ – the new album

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“a dose of wildly galvanising, blisteringly angry, insanely entertaining blue collar rock’n’roll….mixing the grungey pub rock power of Dr Feelgood with the bolshy brass of Dexys, virtually every track is scalp-pricklingly good…” (Mojo – 4/5)

“The pseudonymous collective purvey piledriving, brassy RnB and proletarian-rousing politics, and deliver both with unapologetic gusto, at a time when both are needed more than ever….they offer a blood transfusion to the world-weary, painfully over-sophisticated state of 21st century pop.” (Classic Rock 8/10)

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If you are desperately trying to find the soundtrack to the fightback against neo-liberalism, and this Tory-led government. If you are desperate for solution songs, not protest songs. If you’re wondering what happened to noisy soul bands with guitars and horns. If you want a brilliant album for only £7 (incl.P&P), then look no further. Thee Faction’s third studio album – Good Politics: Your Role As An Active Citizen in Civil Society – is out now. If you’re happy with the Mumford-isation of music, then this is not for you. But if you know, deep in your soul, that art is a hammer not a mirror, and if you need music free of ego and rammed full of devastating political analysis delivered with joy, hope and humour, you really need this record.

Like all those TV-advertised compilation albums in the 80s that you didn’t want, Thee Faction’s albums are not available in the shops.* Neither are they available for download. We don’t want intermediaries, and we don’t think you should have our music without the carefully considered and designed packaging that accompanies it. So you can only get it direct from us. Order right now and we’ll dispatch it within a day.

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As well as live favourites ‘Better Than Wages’, ‘It Don’t Work’, ‘Employment’ and ‘Con-Dem-Nation’, the album contains some surprise treats, including ‘What Suzy Digs’, featuring our favourite living author – Francis Wheen (biographer of Karl Marx) – on tremendous lead vocals. Richard Archer out of Hard Fi pops up on vocals as usual, of course, as well as all sorts of other special guests, including the legend that is Keith TOTP. The artwork comes, yet again, courtesy of our favourite cartoonist – the Independent’s Andy Watt.

So you’re getting a beautifully packaged album, full of special guests and socialist hits. For £7. Wherever you live. It’s £7. Including postage. We may even chuck in a badge.

Still not entirely sure? Here’s a trailer for the album to convince you:

Here’s the video to the remix of ‘Better Than Wages’ Andy Lewis (off of out of Paul Weller’s band) did for us:

Want to read the pre-release reviews in full? Here’s the Mojo one:

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and here’s the Classic Rock one:

classic rock review

There’ll be more reviews now the record’s out, of course. But get in now. Get your copy. It’s the soundtrack to the class war. It’ll put a smile on your face and hope in your heart. And an analysis on your tongue. A socialist needs nothing else.

So waste no time. Buy it now:

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Come on. Help a DIY band out. You may have given up buying records. Make an exception. Cos this one’s for the Movement. Order now. £7 including P&P. Click through and order.

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*well, bar a couple of ultra-comradely ones run by people we love and trust.

DDR of R&B, Half Moon Putney, January 21st: Why 21/1, Why Putney, Why the Half Moon?

On the 21st January we launch our new, semi-regular club night at the Half Moon in Putney (tickets here). We’ll be playing our Socialist R&B. The Nuns will be doing their all-girl tribute to The Monks. Nylons and Baby face from Thee Faction will be DJ-ing, along with a special set from legendary disc-spinner Billy Reeves, veteran of every fashionable club you can think of. It’s a chance for left-leaning grown-ups to drink and dance and discuss. It is going to be fantastic. If ever we needed an evening of diversion from the misery of Cameron and Clegg’s austerity, it’s now. So we thought we’d provide you with one.

This much is clear. However, other things seem not to be. We are being deluged with questions. Those who have been comrades of ours for decades know that nothing we do is without symbolic import, and no decision is pragmatic. There is method in every moment of our madness. So, as you’ve all been asking, we’ll answer the three questions that seem to be pre-occupying you all.

Q1: Why the 21st January?

Everyone knows we never choose these dates randomly. So there must be some vital significance to the date. Indeed there is. There are several reasons why we chose 21st January, which has always been a key date in Thee Faction’s calendar. Here are the main ones:

  • On January 21 1793 Louis XVI went to the guillotine. In the Place de la Revolution, Paris. Need we say more?
  • On January 21 1882 Marx and Engels wrote a preface to the Russian edition of the Communist Manifesto. In it they stated that: “Russia forms the vanguard of revolutionary action in Europe”. How prescient that statement was to prove.
  • On January 21 1921 the PCI (Partito Communista Italiano) was founded. It was the result of a split, as you know, from the PSI. Who led the faction which formed the PCI? Yes, Antonio Gramsci – he who, along with GDH Cole, probably forms the major post-Marx influence on Thee Faction’s work.
  • On January 21 1924 the man who did most to combine theory with practice died, prematurely, causing a crisis of succession which culminated in the rule of Stalin and the exile and assassination of Trotsky. Yes, it was on this day that VI Lenin died.
  • Finally, January 21 1950 was the day that one of Britain’s finest socialists died. When we say Blair, many might think Tony. We think Eric. On the launch night of the DDR of R&B we will be commemorating 60 years to the day since the death of George Orwell.

We hope that answers that question, comrades. We should also add that January 21 lies midway twixt the birthdays of Nylons and Baby Face and, though birthdays are bourgeois and individualist, we do like to mark the occasion because it always represents a chance for an evening of comradeship, drinking and dancing. So, if the five key political reasons for coming to the DDR of R&B on the 21st January don’t appeal to you, perhaps you just like the idea of celebrating the twin SG attack of Nylons and Face.

Q2: Why Putney?

A significant number of the questions we’ve been fielding about the launch of the DDR of R&B have focussed on this point: Thee Faction choose their venues carefully. So, why Putney?

What they think of the Liberal Democrats in Putney. NB this office is 80 yards from the Half Moon.

This one surprised us, because we assumed you would all be aware of Putney’s revolutionary and socialist heritage. But it seems not all comrades are up to speed on this, so here is a tiny selection of reasons why it had to be Putney:

  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was a long-term resident. Daughter of a political philosopher and a feminist pioneer, she married PB Shelley (don’t believe the Romantic hype on Shelley, comrades – the man was a staunch socialist. If you don’t believes us, read Paul Foot’s ‘Red Shelley’), and wrote Frankenstein. Years before Comrade Gramsci wrote of a war of position, Comrade Mary was writing numerous articles on how cooperation and solidarity would form the basis of a reformed civil society. And she wrote ‘em in Putney.
  • Thomas Cromwell was born and bred there too. Now, we don’t view Cromwell entirely uncritically. Indeed, he got involved in all manner of Machiavellian nonsense. But the break from Rome, the destruction of the power of the Church in England and Wales, and the first steps towards ending the weirdness of feudalism and ushering in the first signs of modernity can be laid at his door. Well, it can be laid at the dialectic of history’s door, but he was one of those that facilitated history taking its course. And he was from Putney.
  • Just decades later, along came another resident of Putney: Thomas Hobbes. Now, the 17th century was when it all happened in England, political thought-wise. And the key reason (which most of you will already have guessed) for us choosing Putney would probably not have happened without the great work Hobbes did. Social contract theory is at the heart of liberal thought. But it is way more radical than that. Hobbes reasoned that, at some point in history, humans must have placed subsumed their own interests to those of a commonwealth, or state, which, in exchange for a slice of human ‘liberty’, put an end to the war of all against all, and allowed a passage out of the ‘state of nature’, where life was ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. That is to say, by agreeing to live under a state, in an ordered society, man could have a better life. Now, we have all manner of problems with Hobbes’s analysis, but what he outlined were essential principles of modernity from which you can trace many of the origins of Marxist political thought.  We don’t see subsuming our interests to those of an omnipotent sovereign as the end of history, but we certainly recognise that moment as a key one in getting to where we want to go.  And a political philosophy where a divine being was effectively absent was a brand new thing, and without it, none of the key debates and events of the 17th and 18th centuries would have happened in the way they did. And Hobbes came straight outta Putney.
  • But the main reason why we chose Putney was that it was there that the Putney Debates happened. In 1647 the New Model Army was headquartered in Putney. And at St Mary’s Church (the church by the river, next door to the cinema) the soldiers and officers embarked on a series of debates which gave rise to some of the most radical plans for the future ever to have been outlined.  What had, perhaps, started with Cromwell and Hobbes (both of Putney, remember) culminated here in The Levellers. They demanded universal (male) suffrage, sovereignty to lie in the elected chamber of Parliament, and the power of the Lords and King to be eradicated. Religion would be removed from public life, and religious duty to be removed from society. In short, The Levellers envisaged a modern state – one that Britain still has not achieved. In Thee Faction’s view  there has never been as significant a political moment in Britain as the Putney Debates, and they happened 100 yards from where we are launching the DDR of R&B on the 21st January. This is no coincidence, comrades.
  • Oh, lest we forget, Clement Attlee was a Putney boy. Born and bred. The man had his faults, but he led that 1945 government that gave a whole country hope, and gave them good reason to believe that, far from being something to fear or something which only sorted out problems,  a state could provide more than just a safety net. The state could aggregate a vision of the good life, and could deliver it, to all. Attlee led a socialist government, including genuine socialists within it, and went some way to delivering on a vision of the good life which Thee Faction believes in. And he started off in Putney.

So you’re right, comrades. The choice of Putney was far from random. To be honest, there was nowhere else in London we could have chosen. The closest contender was Staines – for in Runnymede did Magna Carta come into force.  But Putney’s credentials were that much stronger. So we had a meeting, and the DDR of R&B was delivered to SW15.

If you get to Putney early, we implore you to visit the Putney Debates exhibition at St Mary’s Church. You really do owe it to yourselves to see it.

Q3: Why the Half Moon?

OK, so it had to be January 21st, and it had to be Putney. But there are plenty of possible venues in Putney. Why choose the Half Moon?

The answer to this one is incredibly simple. Is there a more R&B venue still operating in London than the Half Moon? There might have been contenders, had the Station Hotel or the Marquee or the Eel Pie Hotel still been in operation. But they’re not. And the Half Moon has hosted all the greats. Champion Jack Dupree, Geno Washington, The Pretty Things, Arthur Crudup, Memphis Slim, Dr Feelgood, The Rolling Stones, Eddie Floyd – they’ve all played there. And it is still where the kings of R&B play when they come to town. If you want to see Wilko Johnson in London, you’ll seek him out at the Half Moon.

So there was no competition. It had to be the Half Moon. It is a superb venue. As you will see on January 21st.

So, we hope that answers your questions. Do get in touch if you have more. We’re really looking forward to the DDR of R&B  at the Half Moon on the 21st January. We will see you there. Please wear your best clothes: you owe it to your comrades to make the effort. That’s what solidarity is about.


Comrade Wilko in Moscow

товарищ!

If you’re in Moscow today, get yourself over to the 2morrow film festival. Its closing event features Julien Temple introducing Oil City Confidential, then a screening of the film itself, and then Wilko Johnson and his band live on stage.

It’s been a while since Thee Faction played Moscow, and the place is very different now. But they loved their Socialist R&B back in the day. They’ll be hungry for some Wilko action tonight. Good luck to Comrade Wilko, and our old Muscovite comrades.

The Bullet Cable – Socialist R&B’s essential tool

Thee Faction are not normally given to endorsing products. But every now and then a product comes into our possession which is so good, the world needs to be told. Of course, although suppliers of musical goods have always tried to get us ot endorse their products in exchange for freebies, we’ve always refused. But this product we have here is bought and paid for. And is well worth endorsing.

It’s a Bullet Cable. It’s 30 feet long, when uncoiled. But it won’t ever be uncoiled, because it is its coiledness that makes it so epic. It’s black and white. And it glows in the dark. It is old skool beyond. It has Comrade Wilko written all over it, frankly. It is a tremendous piece of kit.

If you have a guitar, and you intend to play some Socialist R&B, you need one of these. Go and get one.

Capitalism fucks us over. Again. Goodbye to the 100 Club.

Latest victim of capitalism/Boris Johnson/the coalition (take your pick) is legendary London venue the 100 Club. For our generation the 100 Club is synonymous with the birth of punk – a movement Thee Faction were involved with but not part of (anarchy? Pah…). For other generations it brought them the earliest R&B, skiffle, jazz and so on. Slap bang in the heart of London was a proper venue that looked and felt like a working mens’ club sandwiched between the temples to consumerism of Oxford Street. It felt like a great big two fingered salute to the nonsense around it.

But the nonsense around it has had the last laugh. Cos the 100 Club is closing. According to Jeff Horton, director of the club:

“The writing has been on the wall, so to speak, since the rent increased by 45% in 2007. It was an increase that was unsustainable. Just as pertinent have been the increase year on year in Business Rates that have now reached a ludicrous level of  £1000 per week, and now the Government are increasing VAT to 20% from January. There have been over a dozen increases in duty on alcohol in the last two years or so as well, meaning that my supplier’s bills have increased some 40% in that period.

The bottom line is that the club has a liability to it’s landlords and HMRC that suck 80% of it’s income out of the business. How can that possibly be right?  The business rates, for instance, don’t include refuse collection.”

As we said, take your pick of the usual enemies. Landlords? London’s government? The Coalition government? They’ve all had a hand in it. Capitalism tends towards monopoly. Fact. The free market utopia of small scale producers and businesses trading happily with each other, using the market as the ideal medium of exchange to ensure the mutual spread of wealth, is 100% bollocks. If you’ve got Top Shop, Debenhams, HMV and the rest surrounding you, and a government committed to helping big business, the little guy is going to be shafted.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re no cheerleaders for the small businessman. But they’re way less scary than monopoly capitalism in league with government. As Horton says:

Darling Buds at the 100 Club this week

“when you have a law regarding commercial rents that stipulate they can only go up, what is to prevent another increase happening again in 2012 when the next Rent Review is due?? Is the increase going to be 45% for the third review in a row? These increases do not in any way reflect the social or economic climate at any given time.  It is purely a way of legally fleecing small, and in all probability, medium sized businesses, certainly in Central London.   It is a practice that needs to be stopped……and now.

In my opinion HMRC are using the same Corporate model in raising and accruing Tax.”

The 100 Club seemed to be an anomaly. Its face didn’t fit in the Oxford Street of the 21st Century (which looks just like an overgrown, overblown version of your local shopping centre). And now it’s going.

“The 100 Club, now the oldest live music and entertainment venue on the Planet, will shut its doors for the final time at the end of the year unless a sponsor, funding or a buyer can be found, after accruing losses of almost £100,000 a year for the last three years.”

Lovely though it would be to find such a saviour, it’s just so much pissing in the wind. Give it a decade and the only place you’ll be seeing live music is an identikit chain-venue – one in every city – with a centralised procurement policy, like books from Waterstones or records from HMV. You reckon such a venue-chain would put Thee Faction on? Or the next Sex Pistols or Clash or Dr Feelgood? Or Elvis?

The answer doesn’t lie in legislation, or individual benefactors, or tweaks to the tax system. The answer lies in the mass of the people standing up and making it clear that this isn’t what we want. The closure of the 100 Club is just a symptom. A depressing symptom. But let’s attack the root cause of all this, comrades.

Antonio Gramsci

Antonio Gramsci cautioned us to exercise pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will. A facebook group, or a benefit show, ain’t gonna save the 100 Club or solve the underlying problems of monopoly capitalism. But it will be a vital part of the overall war of position, and that’s what we’ve got to fight. So whatever fight is on to save the 100 Club, count us in. Jeff Horton: we’re on your side.

Know your Socialist R&B



Given that R&B does exactly what it says on the tin, it is astonishing how many people have lost sight of what it really means. You take the blues – a set of fancy scales, if you’re a soulless technical player, or a feel that you can’t be tricked into, or out of, if you’re a warm-blooded human being with soul. You then put a rhythm section under them. You create blues you can dance to. You have R&B.

So it’s easy to know you’re listening to R&B – it’s blues music, with a rhythm section, it’s chock-full of soul, and you can dance to it. The Stones were R&B. Sun-era Elvis was R&B. Dr Feelgood were R&B. Chuck Berry was R&B. The Small Faces were R&B. Sam Cooke was R&B. Thee Faction are R&B. When you hear R&B you know it’s R&B. If you hear Dire Straits and think you’re hearing R&B, you need to re-tune.

There are various noteworthy offshoots of R&B, and no doubt you can find venn diagrams and flow charts demonstrating how one relates to another. If you’re the sort of bourgeois trivia gatherer who needs to do that, good luck to you. The only offshoot of R&B which should be of any interest to comrades is Socialist R&B.

Now Socialist R&B is generally regarded by aficionados to be R&B in its purest form. The purer the R&B sounds, the more likely it is to be Socialist R&B. You know it when you hear it. You can google it. You’ll probably just get a load of links to Thee Faction. Cos as far as the general public is concerned, Thee Faction have always been the public face of Socialist R&B. But there’s plenty more out there. Dig through the archives at Sun, at Chess, or at Stax. You’ll find Socialist R&B in there.

What are the pointers? You know how to spot R&B. Add to that the bite of the local rabble-rouser, the spine-tingling of the trade union anthem, the spirit of the Communist Manifesto, the clang of the factory, the unpleasantness of wage labour , the violence of the extraction of surplus value, the pain of alienation, and the bite of what Engels called the ‘dull compulsion of the economic’. That’s your Socialist R&B.

That is Thee Faction.

A Message from Comrade Wilko

Word has reached Oil City that the At Ebbw Vale tapes have been found. Our old comrade Wilko Johnson has sent Nylons a lovely message, reminding him to keep the struggle going. As Wilko so rightly reminds us in his message above: you do it right when you attack the right.

Thee Faction’s unique brand of Socialist R&B couldn’t exist were it not for the twin influences of Dr Feelgood and Karl Marx. It’s been a while since we heard from Comrade Marx, but it’s great that Comrade Wilko is still urging us to fight the good fight. Rest assured, comrade, we’re doing so.

Comrade Wilko is playing the Half Moon in Putney on July 30th. You’ll find a pretty high percentage of Thee Faction in attendance. We’re keen to catch up with him and chew the fat. And represent. We’ve got to represent.

You do it right when you attack the right. Have we seized upon the slogan for the fightback?