Watch Out!

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Watch Out!

Watch out was our second recording, made in 1992 at Wortley Hall, Lodge Moor Hospital and Red Tape Studios, Sheffield. Sound engineers: Becky Lee and Chris Adams of Red Tape Studios. Digitally remastered by Ian Stead.

Watch Out  :“There’s a rumble of war in the air, better watch out”.  An anti-war song by Holly Near, arranged by Bronwen Westacott of Nottingham Clarion Choir. Copyright: IQ Music Ltd.

Only Our Rivers Run Free: Ireland, “A land that has never known freedom and only her rivers run free”.  A lament against continuing colonisation, written by Michael McConnell in 1973. This arrangement is by the Wolf Tones and John Abraham of the Welsh choir Cor Cochion. Copyright: EMI Music Publishers

Breaths: In some African worldviews, the invisible world of spirit and the visible world of nature exist as one.  So do the past, present and future.  Birago Diop’s poem challenges the dominant thought patterns which have brought the world into crisis.  The poem was set to music by Isaye M. Barnwell and sung by ‘Sweet Honey in the Rock’ on their album “Good News”.  This arrangement is by Emer McKay of our choir, with thanks to Janet Longbottom. Copyright: Westbury Music Ltd.

Shosholosa: At its peak in 1986-7, South Africa drew in half a million migrant workers from impoverished frontline states Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique to dig up the gold for apartheid.  This is the song of the migrants, as they travelled in by train.

Thatcher’s Gone: Nigel Wright of our choir wrote this in the days after Margaret Thatcher’s fall from power in 1990.

Ciniselani Magwala: “Hold on you cowards, we have nearly reached our goal”. Workers at the Britex factory in South Africa sang this during their lunch break one day in mid-1985 for the album “FOSATU Workers’ Choirs” just before another state of emergency was imposed. It took five more years before the ANC was unbanned.

On Children: In his poem, Kahlil Gibran encourages us not to be possessive, but to recognize our children’s own free spirits. Set to music by Tony Wilde of our choir in 1992.

Ella’s Song: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest”.  Lyrics and music by Bernice Johnson Reagon of ‘Sweet Honey in the Rock’ and sung here by five women of our choir. Copyright: Westbury Music Ltd.

A Child of Today: Steph Howlett of our choir wrote this, to an arrangement by Ken Branch, in protest at the Tory Government’s introduction of “standard assessment tests” in British schools in 1991. These measure literacy and numeracy, rather than record our children’s creativity, reducing the breadth of their education.

Internationale: Rise up, all victims of oppression!  A new, up-beat version, with words by the British singer/songwriter Billy Bragg, set to a tune after Degeyter and arranged by David Bedford and John Abraham in 1991. Copyright: Billy Bragg

Song of Choice: Peggy Seeger warns us against complacency. “If you close your eyes, stop your ears, shut your mouth and take it slow” the seeds of fascism way grow into weeds and themselves set seed. Arranged by David Bartlett of the London choir, Raised Voices. Copyright: Ewan McColl Ltd.

Nana was a Suffragette: Written by Jules Gibb for the opening of the Pankhurst Centre for women in Manchester in 1987, this song honours women of our grandmothers’ generation, who fought for our rights.  Jules passed it to us at Women’s Choirs Week at Laurieston People’s Centre in Scotland, May 1992.

500 Years: “You’ve heard about Christopher Columbus; you’ve heard of Pisarro too. Have you heard about Atou Wallpa; have you heard about Tupaq Amaru?”  Words and music by John Webber of the Sheffield Street Music Band in 1992, commemorating the 500 years that Native Americans have faced invasion, robbery and genocide.

The Red Flag: When he wrote it in 1889, Jim Connell set ‘The Red Flag’ to this jaunty traditional Scots air ‘The White Cockade’.  He later cursed those who set it to the ponderous ‘Tannenbaum’, as usually sung in the British Labour movement.  We are grateful to Billy Bragg for taking us back to the song’s roots on his album ‘The Internationale’ and to Nigel Wright of our choir for arranging it.

Draglines: “Must I weep and mourn for the land it took ten million years to form?’’ A song by Deborah Silverstein against the impact of strip mining companies in Pennsylvania, USA, on the land and the people who live there.  Sung by a small group from the choir. Copyright: Topic Records Ltd

Coal Not Dole: This was written by Kaye Sutcliffe, a Kent miner’s wife, to a traditional tune and performed by the theatre group 7:84 during the 1984-5 miners’ strike. Since then Britain’s coal communities, including in South Yorkshire where we live, have been decimated. We sang it for the 30,000 miners threatened with redundancy as this tape was being recorded. Arranged by Tactlass, a Sheffield-based women’s singing group.

Union Miner: Originally called ‘A Miner’s Life’, this is set to the Welsh hymn tune ‘Calon Lan’. Another version became popular among US miners and a later one with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. We have added to it again for the campaign to keep the pits open.

Gulf War Chant: As anger spilled over at the way Western governments went to war in early 1991 to protect their oil interests against the Iraqi regime, Nigel Wright of our choir wrote this for us to sing on street demonstrations.

Not in My Name: “Arms dealers make their fortunes on the backs of those who die.  While leaders without vision, prepare for genocide… I don’t give you my permission, no, you cannot speak for me”. Mal Finch, Sheffield-based singer/songwriter, wrote this in early 1991, in angry protest against the (first) Gulf War. The chorus was arranged by Jane Edwardson of our choir.

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