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Musicians & tQ Writers On Anti-Fascist Anthems
Luke Turner , October 4th, 2016 08:32

Featuring contributions from Ben Durutti, Penny Rimbaud, Bobby Barry, Jeremy Allen, Ben Myers, Kevin McCaighy, Stewart Smith, Neil Cooper, Matt Evans, Tony F Wilson, Leo Chadburn, Emily Mackay, David Bennun, Phil Harrison, Arnold De Boer, Joel McIver, Russell Cuzner, Jeremy Bolm, John Doran, TV Smith, James Sherry, Jonathan Meades, Tristan Bath, JR Moores, Julian Marszalek, Captain Sensible, Andy Moor, Christine Casey, Nic Bullen and Stewart Lee

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The Beat – ‘Two Swords’

No single movement in chart pop music since has politicised a generation as much as the ska revival of the late 70s and early 80s. Much like the Specials’ (more cynical) ‘Do The Dog’, ‘Two Swords’ is a clarion call for a youth unity at a time when swastikas and right-wing views were as much a pose or fashion statement thanks to the Pistols and Bowie’s naive flirting with Nazi emblems and imagery. The message of unity seems wishy-washy until you consider the politics of the era. Despite constant NF attacks on minorities, there was no real mainstream political right-wing threat. But that’s largely because at the time, racism was institutionalised and May 1979 saw the most draconian right-wing government of the 20th Century come to power (whose subterfuge we're still uncovering over 25 years later). Exactly 12 months later, The Beat released their first full-length ‘I Just Can't Stop It’, easily comparable to that of The Specials' self-titled debut. Including what must be one of the earliest uses of the c-bomb in a pop song with the lyric, "Even though that cunt's a Nazi", ‘Two Swords’ marries a frantic upbeat ska riff to a punk attitude. The central maxim of the song criticises the futility of political fighting, suggesting that the violence simply escalates opposing sides to even worse extremism. They had a point.
Ben Durutti


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