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Episode 149 : Andy Beckett on Pop & Politics + The Beat + Everything But The Girl

11 April 2023

In this episode we welcome author and Guardian journalist Andy Beckett to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and ask him to discuss politics and pop from the late '70s to the present day.

Andy talks about his first musical passions as a teenager in the early '80s, as well as about Rock Against Racism, Red Wedge and the politicised postpunk era in general. He recalls his first pieces for The Independent in the early '90s and explains how his broader interest in popular culture informs his perspective as an op-ed columnist and the author of When the Lights Went Out and Promised You a Miracle. In a week that saw Finland joining NATO and the indictment of Donald Trump, we ask what musicians can and can't do to change the world.

The imminent new album from proto-Woke duo Everything But The Girl gives us an opportunity to address the enduring political ideals of Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn, plus we travel back to 1981 via clips from an audio interview with The Beat's David Steele and Ranking Roger, who talk to John Tobler about youth unemployment and the menace of nuclear weapons.

After we've paid our respects to departed legends Seymour Stein and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mark talks us through his new additions to the RBP library, including pieces about the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper, Joan Armatrading, Talking Heads and Sun Ra. Jasper then wraps up the episode with his thoughts on a 2002 live review of Queens of the Stone Age and a 2015 piece exploring the influence of Spaghetti Westerns on reggae.

Many thanks to special guest Andy Beckett.