Friday, 30 January 2015

Oliver: Consolidated - Peel Session (24 November 1991)

Although it seemed like a number of long running global issues had been decided by the end of 1991, not everyone was convinced that nirvana had been realised by the end of the Cold War and the speedy resolution of the first Gulf War. American band Consolidated took up the role of asking the hard questions about and pointing out the flaws of "our" side (specifically the United States, but enough of it could be applied to Britain as well) over three songs in their one and only Peel session.  On the recording I heard, only the middle track, No Censorship, was picked up by the taper, but the video features all three songs and I'm delighted to put them up here.  2 out of the 3 would definitely have made it onto my mixtape: the aforementioned No Censorship and the magnificent America No.1, a coruscating attack on America's interventionist stance and the way in which wars are conducted "against a poor third world country just to divert attention away from the war they conduct against their own people every single day." which implores "the youth of Britain" to question the motives of parents, teachers, authority, government and the mass media.
Although some of their sentiments seem quaintly trite now; No Censorship reasons that Satanists should be left to get on with it, there are others, especially regarding America's relationship with the developing world that have rung uncomfortably true since the turn of the century.  The great shame is that Consolidated were a band out of time.  Raging against facism and handing around microphones to the audience at your gigs so that you can debate issues of censorship, racism, fascism, sexism and nationalism seemed laughably "right on" in the 90s, the decade of peace * all the hard work had been done surely?  Now though, the world needs a Consolidated type band more than ever and the causes they espoused and railed against through the 90s seem as relevant and prescient as ever.  And they've arguably got worse.  Interestingly, it was George H.W. Bush who was coming into his final year as president when Consolidated recorded this session in October 1991, that the band would be raging against just as they got started.  Ironically, it was his son that started to enact many of the things that Consolidated warned about, just at the point that they called it a day in 2001.

The fusion of hip-hop and hard rock in a political protest setting would be taken on to greater commercial success by Rage Against the Machine within a year of this session but Consolidated's work promises some interesting discoveries not least their 1992 album, Play More Music, which features samples from many of their interactions with audiences during their gigs as they sought to shake the notion of a gig as something lead purely by the band and with the audience only inputting through applause and cheering.  Though as the clips I've heard from that album and those interactions prove, the rock audience will never precipitate a revolution when they've paid to watch a gig.  Afterwards maybe, when they've had a drink and a kip.  Possibly...perhaps...

This clip also features the first bit of Peel himself that we've heard on this blog, linking the tracks from the repeat of the session in February 1992.  Nice to have you along with us, John.

*I mean peace in the sense that the 90s lacked the global threat, real or imagined, of nuclear annihilation from the 60s to the 80s that underlined the Cold War or the randomness of the acts carried out from 9/11 onwards and their consequent effect on the relationship between the West and the Middle East.

Video courtesy of Webbie Webster.

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