The 80's were a great time for agit-pop. Some of my strongest memories of the decade were the impact of the Miners strike, and the effect it had on the musical landscape. From features in the press, to benefit gigs, to student demos, to Rough Trade releasing "Strike" by The Enemy Within: it was a time full of militancy and the possibility that political change could be instigated by the sounds we listened to, and the ideals we held. Just around the corner was the 90's and the decade that was all abut greed being good, but in the mid 80's, things seemed just that little bit more empowered; even if, ultimately, it all came to nothing. Hey, at least we tried.
As far as agit-pop goes, one record really sums up the time: "Whistling In the Dark" by Easterhouse. A chiming slice of classic 80's pop, it was full of rage and exhortation: a diatribe about a country riven apart by industrial strife. "Whistling..." is available on "Contenders", a Cherry Red compilation which I can heartily recommend. However, less is known about the band that followed Easterhouse: The Cradle. The Perry brothers, Ivor And Andy, who made up Easterhouse, had a major falling out, and Andy disappeared. Ivor went on to form The Cradle, who are perhaps most notable for the fact that they included future member of The Smiths Craig Gannon in their midst (this rounded off a nice Smiths connection, as Easterhouse's first gig in London was supporting The Smiths at ULU).
This song makes me seriously nostalgic for the 80's. Not because it's a definitive 80's classic, but because I can hear the musical landscape shifting as this piece of vinyl spins on the turntable. The days of the independent charts producing great crossover hits was fading: just over the horizon was the birth of Dance culture and a thousand new genres, feeding off each other. This record feels like the proud last stand of an old guard. But, despite all of that, it's wonderful. Like so many of the tunes I post here, the reason I love it so much is that it acts as a landmark, a beacon, a snapshot of a time which has passed. Enjoy.
The Cradle "It's Too High" (mp3)