There’s very few videos that have ever reduced me almost to tears. One is ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash (if that doesn’t make you wanna weep, you have no soul). The other is this by Hiatus.
This track is called ‘Insurrection’ and features vocals from the legendary dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson (absolute legend -actually met him him at the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2002!). This track remembers the Brixton Riots of 1981. Both Hiatus and Linton Kwesi Johnson call Brixton home. Though the area has changed over time, when people go on about 1981 being the year of the Royal Wedding of Charles & Diana, they should remember that the folks in many cities had more pressing concerns: Unemployment, racial harassment, police harassment, inner cities burning…plus ca change la meme chose, as the French say.
This video looks like it’s from news footage of the time, and if this doesn’t make you burn with righteous indignation…God help you. The Tory politician Norman Tebbit had the insolence at the time to say that ‘My Father didn’t riot. He got on his bike and looked for work.’ (Screw you, Tory scum.) My A-Level Politics teacher used to say that ‘Riots are the ballot box of the poor.’ She was unquestionably right.
Hiatus’ album Ghost Notes is out now. ‘Insurrection’ is out on April 11.
Linton Kwesi Johnson bonus video: