Dave Randall - Sound System [Book Review]


In Sound System guitarist and activist Dave Randall poses an arguably unanswerable question: What power does culture, and specifically music, have in society? His answer is that it holds more influence than it’s given credit for.

He arrives at that conclusion by drawing on his experiences touring the world with the band Faithless, among others, and examining music’s place in political activism, from Socrates’s assertions that “the modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling of the most fundamental political and social conventions” in 380 BC to Beyonce’s performance of Formation at the 2016 Super Bowl in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

While his historical analysis is not comprehensive, Randall synthesises key academic and cultural opinions, beginning with Theodor Adorno’s notion of the “culture industry” and his assertion that popular music amounts to an “impoverished and debased language” that serves to strengthen those in power.

Read the rest of the review in The Morning Star.

[This piece was originally published on 25/04/17]