THEE FACTION: Reading Writing Revolution (2015)
The collected works of Karl Marx, trade union solidarity, protest marches – these don’t exactly sound like good subject material for particularly funky music. But hey – go figure!
Thee Faction have worked out how to write songs with names like GDH Cole dropped in casually, and still be eminently danceable. Not since the Redskins in the 1980s has unashamedly socialist music been so damn cool.
Taking a leaf out of the Dr Feelgood book of R’ n B, Thee Faction are a tour de force of rock and roll that gets your feet shufflin’, your hips gyratin’ and your head a thinkin’. Being angry has never been so much fun.
If you are going to get angry, not to mention even, you need to know who you are dealing with, so the album opens up with ‘Choose Your Enemy’. It is quickly followed up by a song that could have been written for their most famous fan, Jeremy Corbyn. ‘You’ve got the Numbers’. “We’ve got the ties that unite, they’ve got the lies that divide…. You got the numbers, why don’t you use it”.
Title track, ‘The Three Rs’ – Reading Writing Revolution – presents a “dissertation on liberation”
‘Socialsim: Utopian and Scientific’ is Engels’ most concise exposition of Marxism. Next to ‘The Communist Manifesto’ this work is probably the most widely read introductory text on socialism. It is also the sixth track on this album, with some chunky baselines and top class guitar shredding to sex the old work up a bit.
“Freedom never came from the ballot”, opens track nine; ‘Strictly Come Marching’. With a hint of Mod showing through we are invited to “meet at the station, bring a little salad”, before going on a protest march, taking democracy to the streets.
The idea of singing about Engels and protest marches might sound a bit off the wall, but all the best songs are about real life and clearly this is life for these guys – they are the real deal, not just style rebels. They do read Engels for fun and they do go on protest marches. But no matter how dry the subject, they make it entertaining with tongues ever so slightly in their cheeks just enough to keep you smiling as you tap your toes.
Agitate, educate, harmonise!