Reading Writing Revolution : Thee Faction

Owen Jones was only this week bemoaning the lack of mainstream political bands in recent years. If you ignore the Manics and their legacy, and the fact that his soppy Labour Party thinking seems to make him consider Red Wedge to have been more influential and effective than Rock Against Racism / Love Music Hate Racism, it was generally a sensible article.

If not very original.

Let's hope it'll soon be out of date though.

One band that might make this happen are one he had to apologise to for omitting.

Thee Faction have been ploughing their rabble rousing garage-y 'Socialist rhythm and Blues' for 5 years, bringing down the Tories one song at a time. They have made quite an impact on the critics and the organised left with their brass fuelled, irresistibly jiggy 'beats to burn bankers by' (Nicky Tesco, The Members) being present at protests everywhere from Burston to Tolpuddle, Orgreave to Oxford Street.


With 'Reading Writing Revolution', they have produced their most polished, accessible, danceable and possibly commercial record to date. And without comprimising the hard hitting politics one jot. First single 'Chose Your Enemy' is a perfect example – sounding like The Housemartins pushed onto the streets by The Redskins, or The Larks in a United Front agitating with Chumbawamba during their most commercially successful phrase, the track yells 'hit'.

Yet the song is all about bashing the bastards that hold us down.

Other stand out tracks are 'Rent Strike', 'Police State' and 'Equality', while 'Strictly Come Marching' shows that Thee Faction have not lost their essential sense of humour, poking fun at those who rule and ruin us. 'Bastards' is an angry punky romp while 'Bubble' is a mostly gentle acoustic paean to freedom, in all its meanings. The album rants and rocks and preaches and pogos and hectors and harmonises and tootles and takes a stand, like Joe Strummer duetting with The Supremes – what Trotsky would have listened to in that Finnish hotel room before returning to the struggle (2). It's highly enjoyable, dangerously tuneful, subversively catchy and dialectically danceable, as well as being (as the title implies) properly educational - thought provoking and agitational.

As I listen it to it, it is the night of the debate between the party leaders. Their muted mouths gyre and gimble in meaningless rehearsed improvisation, studied sincerity.

In a fair society those speaking against the current system would get as much air time as those wanting to defend it. Instead tonight we have 7 talking heads saying more or less the same thing in defence of the status quo.

In a fair society, songs as good as Thee Factions would get a similar exposure to the billion brands of brain dead identikit Idol Pop pap we are generally blasted with to keep us in our place. This record deserves to be number one in election week to show that yes there is an alternative, we don't all have to sit back and relax and take their crap. To show that, yes, political music does need to make a come back.

But I am enough of a realist to know that this won't happen; I have had enough brushes with the music biz to know that it's not talent or songs or passion or truth, but who you know and whose arse you kiss that secures success.

As I said, even Owen Jones omits to mention Thee Faction.

However we can all do our bit – make a stand against racism, join a Trade Union, organise a petition against an injustice, don't let the big wigs push you around at school or college or work.

Think for yourself. Be a creator not a consumer, a doer not a ditherer, an activist not an audience.

And do it all to the soundtrack of this album.

This record has helped clear the muck of ages coming from the leaders' debates out of my system.

So, as someone once said, 'ten out of ten and fuck the marking system'! (2)

Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T

You can download the single 'Chose Your Enemy' for free and order the album here

(1) See Leon Trotsky : My Life, end of chapter 13
(2) NME review of Generation Terrorists, Barbara Ellenm 1992