MUSIC AND POLITICS by John & Robert Levin Sinclair


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If you think Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd and the Beatles are far out, think again. Poet-revolutionary John Sinclair (he's Chairman of the White Panthers and currently serving ten years in Marquette prison for possession of two joints) and colleague Robert Levin of Jazz and Pop are here to tell you that it's all just bourgeois decadence: tire current rock scene can ""claim about as much revolutionary potency as the Teamsters Union."" Not that its potential was ever so such much -- as a form of ""white popular music"" rock is ""a commodity by definition,"" not to be confused with Jazz, which is Art, and The New Jazz which is Revolutionary Art. (""The simultaneous rise of the New Jazz and Black Nationalism was not some weird coincidence."") To paraphrase Lord Acton, Sinclair believes that success corrupts and absolute success corrupts absolutely and the rock scene has succumbed to the ""rock-pop imperialists"" -- packagers, entrepreneurs, PR-men, death-merchants and star-makers. The only exception to the flatulence of 'Amerikan' culture which Sinclair sees is the ""despised"" progeny of Coltrane and Ornette Coleman -- Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, Pharaoh Sanders, Sun Ra plus some other black jazzmen of whom you have (almost certainly) never heard. Which makes Sinclair's critique of their hard or impossible-to-obtain recordings difficult to dispute. While it's easy enough to endorse his insistence on musical self-determination -- by which he means independent recording labels, musicians' cooperatives and doing away with the ""consumer commodity ruse"" between artists and the people -- you might wonder how inaccessibility guarantees either talent, musical integrity or revolutionary consciousness. Though Sinclair tends to throw out the baby (The Rolling Stones) with the bathwater (Blind Faith), his perceptions on the cooption of radical musical departures have merit and he may persuade you to put in a mail order for some liberated recordings unavailable at your local hip record store.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1971
Publisher: World