Walls Come Tumbling Down. From Rock Against Racism to Red Wedge

Daniel Rachel
13 February 2017

Daniel Rachel gives an overview of his book Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge. Rachel charts the surprisingly direct line between Eric Clapton’s racist tirade at the Birmingham Odeon in 1976, and the 1988 concert held in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday (ironically featuring Clapton performing alongside Dire Straits), and all the left-wing organising done by musicians in between. Rachel focuses on three main groups/campaigns, largely chronologically: Rock Against Racism, Red Wedge, and the late ‘80s Anti-Apartheid Movement. They argue that the 16 years between 1976 and 1992 represent the closest relationship music (underground and pop) and mainstream politics have ever had in Britain. In a much needed shift, Rachel moves the focus away from just (invariably white and male) punk bands, discussing at length the role women, reggae and two-tone ska musicians played in these organisations.

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