The Fascist Groove Thing: A History of Thatcher's Britain in 21 Mixtapes (Paperback)
The Fascist Groove Thing had many names: Thatcherism, monetarism, neoliberalism, individualism, militarism, nationalism, racism, and anti-unionism for a start. Popular music in Britain responded to this monster either by pretending it didn't exist or by throwing every weapon it could muster at it. This book collects five hundred interesting songs that addressed one alarming feature of Thatcher's Britain or another: the notional mixtape "Whistling in the Dark," for example, consists of songs about Thatcher's war on the trade unions; "Shopkeepers Arise " comprises songs about consumerism and the rise of so-called popular capitalism. The chapters that follow each mixtape reconstruct the arguments these songs were having with Thatcher's version of Britain (and, sometimes, with each other). The arguments are often polemical, frequently vitriolic, always riotous; they are an alternative account of the decade. This account mattered at the time because popular music said things that other media were unwilling or unable to say: when Thatcher dragged the country into a completely unnecessary war in the South Atlantic, for example, the TV news and the national newspapers dutifully cheered or kept quiet, so popular music provided a crucial national forum for critical dissent. These songs still matter today because they are a documentary record of that dissent. The Fascist Groove Thing's been running the show for forty years now, and we're forgetting that it wasn't inevitable that it should turn out this way.