Wednesday, 13 January 2016

"If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution"

I’m currently reading Peter Doggett’s 2007 book There's a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of '60s Counterculture and I was curious to google a certain Columbia Records advert the author mentions in the text. The infamous ad “The Man Can’t Bust Our Music” appeared in various underground publications in late 1968 and was greeted with jeers and mockery for Columbia’s apparent commitment to the revolutionary cause. Worse still Columbia wasn’t exactly a wellspring of edgy revolutionary music - apart from the idiosyncratic United States of America, the label had no firebrands like the MC5 or Last Poets to call its own, instead it looks like the mixed race of agitators pictured in the advert have been busted for listening to avant-gardists like Terry Riley and Stockhausen. Ironically, had the label waited ‘til 1970, the ad might have worked as a spot for one of Columbia’s biggest sellers, Bitches Brew which truly was the music of revolution, not to mention Mati Klarwein’s Afro-centric album artwork couched in the politics of Black Power and Black Pride.

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