Sound System

Sound System : The Political Power of Music

4.1 (58 ratings by Goodreads)
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Musicians have often wanted to change the world. From underground innovators to pop icons many have believed in the political power of music. Rulers recognise it too. Music has been used to challenge the political and social order - and to prop up the status quo.

Sound System is the story of one musician's journey to discover what makes music so powerful. Dave Randall uses his insider's knowledge of the industry to shed light on the secrets of celebrity, commodification and culture.

This is a book of raves, riots and revolution. From the Glastonbury Festival to the Arab Spring, Pop Idol to Trinidadian Carnival, Randall finds political inspiration across the musical spectrum and poses the question: how can we make music serve the interests of the many, rather than the few?

Published in partnership with the Left Book Club.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 20.32mm | 249.48g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745399304
  • 9780745399300
  • 427,076

Table of contents

1. Roots

2. Culture

3. Partying for your right to fight

4. Getting Political

5. Unity Lost

6. A short musical history of neoliberalism

7. Star Gazing

8. Their Music

9. My turn

I0. Music of the Arab Revolutions

11. Rebel Music Manifesto

12. Conclusion


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Review quote

'An outstanding book on many different levels' -- International Socialism Journal 'Ceaselessly fascinating and incredibly well researched, with a narrative voice that's simultaneously highly educated and humbly inviting' -- Pop Matters 5 Stars! -- Songlines 'Very readable and highly enjoyable' -- Socialist Review 'A wide-ranging and punchy book' -- Dan Hancox, The National 'Logical and informed, synthesising the historical and the theoretical with a spirit of warmth and accessibility. We need more left wing writing like this. I give only a fraction of a shit about music, and I can't put this down' -- Season Butler 'This engaging, hugely readable book should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the state of the world - and in the essential, life-affirming role music can play in changing it for the better' -- Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music 'What an imaginative idea, what a terrific, exciting book, weaving together the strands of music, politics and worldwide struggles' -- Yasmin Alibhai-Brown 'A thrilling trip through the dark corners and secret gardens of the music world! Dave Randall leaves no stone unturned and has produced a work of rare insight' -- Maxi Jazz, lead vocalist for Faithless 'Fascinating ... A deeply intelligent look at music and society and in particular pop's tempestuous relationship with commerce. Thought provoking, readable and clever stuff' -- Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music
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About Dave Randall

Dave Randall is a musician and activist. He has toured the world playing guitar with Faithless, Dido, Sinead O'Connor and many others. He is the author of Sound System: The Political Power of Music (Pluto, 2017).
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Rating details

58 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 36% (21)
4 40% (23)
3 22% (13)
2 2% (1)
1 0% (0)
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