Tuesday, 4 December 2018
BARNSTORMER 1649 - Restoration Tragedy (*A REVIEW*)
Attila The Stockbrokers new album Restoration Tragedy is a history lesson about 17th Century England circa 1649, a time of continuing Civil War, bad harvests,and rising food prices the country was in strife with factions and sects (The Levellers, The Diggers and The Ranters) fighting for social, political, economic and religious change in a divided country, of Parliamentarians and Royalists, ruled by a Rump Parliament under the control of Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army. One King had been be-headed and another exiled/escaped, and still the poor weren't being listened to.
The Levellers Trilogy, two traditional Diggers Songs and a Attila original sets the scene for a performance of some Roundhead Renaissancecore courtesy of Attila and Barnstormer 1649. Prides Purge is a catchy tub thumping number that recounts when in 1648 those loyal to the king were excluded from parliament. Like several songs on the album it juxtapositions historic events with present day ones in this case corrupt members of parliament and their dodgy deals, time for another purge?! The Fishermans Tale is a toe tapping sea shanty about not catching King Charles II before he escaped England. Monarchs Way charts his journey, after his defeat at the The Battle of Worcester this track is an atmospheric instrumental; you can smell the musket smoke in the air as battle weary Roundheads lie slumped around a fires glowing embers. Lord Protector is a doomy dirge lamenting that Cromwell was no better than the king. Burford Requiem is just that a simple slow instrumental to remember those Levellers killed by turncoats in Cromwells New Model Army at Burford Town. Piped polemics bringing the past into the present as The Man With The Beard links the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the leader of The Levellers John Liburne, together while warning of the growth of a religious cult of personalty, it's also a great example of a present day ranter at work, spreading the word with humour through music and song. On the track Wellingbourgh and Wigan Attila and his Barnstormers sets the diggers story to a spade wielding ska folk jig of a tune. The Ranters were an interesting bunch, and attracted the more lunatic fringes of society to their ranks, they were 'blasphemeous' ie they saw god differently to others,and foulmouthed. Abiezer Coppe was one such man and his tale is told by Attila, while also recounting his days when he first began his journey as a ranting poet in the 1980's alongside the likes of Seething Wells and Little Brother. The English Civil War has been a fertile ground for musicians to feed from; Bands like New Model Army and The Levellers were named after radical factions in the War, this is referenced in The Voice, which may be about Thomas Rainsborough the New Model Army leader, or Justin Sullivan, New Model Army Guitarist/Vocalist. A World Turned Upside Down the old diggers ballad, has been covered by amongst others Billy Bragg, The Barracudas and Chumbawumba, who also recorded The Diggers Song, originally written by Diggers leader Gerald Winstanley. Barnstormer 1649's versions seem to carry more conviction and authenticity to these ears.
Restoration Tragedy is more than just a record it's a work of art; both musically and lyrically it paints pictures. Brilliant stuff! the album is out now on Roundhead Records, only available on vinyl or CD, because it is more than just the music that matters, and you don't get a booklet that puts all the historical references in the songs into context with a download. Available from Attila's Webpage.
The 1960's Underground Scene, 80's Anarcho Punk, and the environmental movements in the 90's Red Wedge, and Momentum have carried on the Diggers / Levellers and Ranters visions of a commonwealth for all to share, freedom of expression, political change. are all part of a lineage from The Peasants Revolt, The Tol Puddle Martyrs, The Chartists, The Womens Suffragette movement and Trade Unions. The English Civil War is a period in our history which the rich and powerful have tried to erase, no doubt because they know that the same issues exist today as they did then, and as they have throughout our countries history; Inequality and Injustice. To really turn the World Upside Down the King Capitalism needs unseating! Protest and discontent is growing so the wealthy need to take care, but then again so do the poor, as power can corrupt. Alternatives to the present lie in the past, and to build a better future people need to understand and be inspired by Britains rich heritage of rebellion, dissent and protest.....STAND UP NOW! REFUSE TO BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP IT!