Land Of Hope & Fury is a collection of contemporary protest songs – a compilation inspired by the realisation on May 8th 2015 of the enormity of what the British people had done. Not just the greedy and the fascists but also those too pusillanimous to stand up for what they actually believe in. We can thank Stevie and Jamie Freeman for the work that went into putting it together.
The album opens quietly with Luke Jackson’s ‘Forgotten Voices’, the story of an old soldier left on the scrapheap feeling that his voice counts for nothing. It may be better to protest by whispering in someone’s ear than screaming in their face and even Mark Chadwick is quite restrained but I kept having the feeling that what the record needed was one really good rant. Moulettes’ ‘Lullaby’ is a lovely song but it’s somewhat opaque in this context. ‘The Hum’, from O’Hooley & Tidow’s third album takes a positive line, one that’s on the side of working people. OK, it sticks it to the aspirational middle class but that’s almost incidental.
Lucy Ward’s ‘Bigger Than That’ is a real killer track – still quiet but with uncompromising lyrics and ‘Filthy Lucre’ by The Mountain Firework Company does the same to the sound of a hillbilly banjo. There are excellent songs from Phil Jones, Will Varley and Chris T-T and Plumhall’s ‘Never Forget My Name’ serves as a warning to the slavers and taskmasters and Grace Petrie’s ‘If There’s A Fire In Your Heart’ acts as a rallying cry.
So, this is a really good collection of songs for our troubled times but, you know what, it still needs one really good rant.
“We woke up on May 8th to election results that left tens of millions of people feeling disenfranchised and without a voice. Rather than wait quietly for another five years before we got to have our say, we decided to return to the proud musical tradition of the protest song. Our votes might have counted for nothing, but we could still make our voices heard.
We contacted our many friends in the roots music world and asked them to contribute something to a compilation of contemporary protest songs, and the results were an incredibly diverse range of musical, emotional and political styles. Land Of Hope & Fury was born. Sixteen artists in total donated songs with nine of them written specifically for the album. This coming together of people, all acting out of simple desire to make the world a better place, has been the single most encouraging aspect of this project, It is the proof that Margaret Thatcher’s suggestion that “there’s no such thing as society” is as wrong today as ever it was.
We didn’t want to profit financially from the album, so we looked for a suitable beneficiary that was aligned with our frustrations, but not bound to one set of policies. Politics had let us down, so a campaigning group from outside of the political system seemed like a good choice.We felt 38 Degrees’ mix of online petitioning and real-world actions was just right for Land Of Hope And Fury, and they were delighted to take part. We couldn’t be happier to have them alongside us.”
Jamie’s brother Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, The Office, Sherlock) made a video supporting the Labour Party, so his family are no stranger to politics.
Luke Jackson – Forgotten Voices
Mark Chadwick (Levellers) – No Change
Emily Barker – Doing The Best I can
Moulettes – Lullaby
Lucy Ward – Bigger Than That
The Jamie Freeman Agreement – Homes for Heroes
The Self Help Group – Funeral Drum
The Dreaming Spires – Follow The Money
Mountain Firework Company – Filthy Lucre
Phil Jones (Hatful Of Rain) – New Homes
O’Hooley & Tidow – The Hum
Will Varley – The Sound Of The Markets Crashing
Chris TT – A-Z
Plumhall – Never Forget My Name
Grace Petrie – If There’s a Fire In Your Heart
Danni Nicholls – A Little Redemption
A 4-minute, 8-bit history of the universe from the acclaimed singer-songwriter out now
Acclaimed folk singer-songwriter Will Varley has released something you might not necessarily associate with folk music: a computer-game style music video that shows the history of the universe and man’s evolution using 8-bit graphics – and in only four minutes. The video, which has already clocked up thousands of views, accompanies his song ‘Weddings and Wars’, a track from his recently released ‘As the Crow Flies’ album (Smugglers Records).
The video was designed and animated by Varley himself – it took about six weeks of solid work and involved lots of all-night sessions. Designed in a demo version of a 1990s computer program, Will finished the game on the last day of his free trial of the software. The video is influenced heavily by the kind of games Varley played with his brother as a child, and gamers will appreciate quite a few hidden in-jokes (look out for the Commander Keen reference, for example).
Super Nintendo gaming enthusiasts will love this video, which uses the same resolution and colour palette of the classic NES and SNES consoles; those interested in evolutionary biology will enjoy the simple and darkly funny explanation of how humankind has progressed from bacterium to killing machine; but above all, music fans will love the track: a witty, melodic and extraordinarily well-crafted take on the meaning – or meaninglessness – of life.
Will Varley has been haunting the open mics and acoustic nights of London and the South East for the past decade. His polished live shows have won him a growing crew of faithful followers and after releasing a collection of home demos in 2009 his first proper album ‘Advert Soundtracks’ began production with Smugglers Records in the spring. The collection of ten songs was recorded in the attic of an old fisherman’s cottage by the sea in Kent and produced by David Hatton Jnr. (Cocos Lovers) using an old 1960′s Neumann U47 tube microphone and a beaten up laptop.
After the recording was finished, Varley set out on the road and walked a hundred and thirty miles with a guitar and tent on his back. Starting the tour at London Bridge he headed south east, strolling through the roll- ing hills of the Kent wield and singing songs to whoever would listen. The 24 year old slept in barns, camped at the side of canals and played gigs in the corner of crowded pubs. By the time he strolled back to deal, despite the blisters and the aching muscles, word of his album had begun to spread and he had many a story still to tell.
Since his return, Varley has been gigging relentlessly across the country, with a summer of festival appearances followed by an autumn of support slots, folk clubs, and a number of performances at the Occupy Lon- don protests.
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