Socialist Worker

Jon Savage’s 1966—when popular music captured the mood of rebellion

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2483

For revolutionaries and radicals 1968 is the key year in the last 50.

The Black Panthers patrolled the streets of US ghettos, workers and students occupied the streets of Paris and there were firebombs on the streets of Berlin. Even Britain got a small taste of the action.

But music journalist Jon Savage insists you could hear the sound of distant drums in 1966.

He sets the scene with the threat of nuclear holocaust, the beginning of revolt against the Vietnam War, and the fight for the liberation for women and black people.

Savage finds threads of each in even the most popular music’s lyrics.

There’s no hiding the intention in The Uglys’ Quiet Explosion, which reflects the widespread fear of war.

But listen to The Monitors’ Greetings (This is Uncle Sam) and you could be forgiven for thinking it was apro-Vietnam war song.

Then you find out that those about to be drafted into the US Army would sing it at Monitors’ gigs as a cry of rage.

The Psychotic Reaction’s Count Five and The Association’s Along Comes Mary are a homage to another theme.

They’re based around the new mass drugs culture that would spread to both sides of the Atlantic.

Mixing pop with obscurities is Savage’s proven technique.

And he does it brilliantly here.

Jon Savage’s 1966: the year the decade exploded
Ace Records
£18.99
Out now

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Tue 8 Dec 2015, 17:19 GMT
Issue No. 2483
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