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article imageReview: Restoration Tragedy — Radical history comes alive on new album Special

By Tim Sandle     Oct 8, 2018 in Entertainment
Brighton - Radical politics, old English instruments played with cutting edge attitude, the biggest upheaval in English history, and some stomping tunes are served up brilliantly on Attila the Stockbroker's new album.
The album is Restoration Tragedy and it is credited to Attila and his band - Barnstormer 1649. The year of 1649 was a pivotal one in English history, the year when King Charles was beheaded outside the Banqueting House, Whitehall and the country became a republic for an eleven year spell (generally regarded as the interregnum, the period in English history stretching from the execution of Charles I in 1649 to the Restoration of Charles II in 1660).
During this time Oliver Cromwell led a fledgling parliamentary democracy. Although Cromwell's time did not deliver the complete freedoms that many had hoped for it ended absolute monarchy and paved the way for a constitutional monarchy with laws passed by parliament rather than being set by the King. The period also saw the rise of radical politics and religious non-conformity. The radicals included the Levellers, a political movement that arose during the English Civil War seeking extended suffrage, equality before the law and religious tolerance; and the Diggers, the first proto-communist movement who sought the creation of small, egalitarian rural communities (notably St George's Hill in Surrey), who were led by Gerrard Winstanley.
This pivotal moment of historical time has provided the inspiration for poet and musician Attila the Stockbroker on his new album - Restoration Tragedy. Attila (John Baine) is a renowned punk poet, multi-instrumentalist musician and songwriter. The album takes a hard hitting and sometimes comical look at history that fizzes with passion and energy.
The new album combines an eclectic mix of early music and punk sensibilities, with radical lyrics drawing parallels with events of the English Civil War with contemporary issues like immigration, the inequalities of wealth, and the misuse of power and privilege (but not without hope, as with the Jeremy Corbyn inspired number The Man with the Beard demonstrates).
The album contains 14 hummable tracks, almost all written by Attila save the traditional Diggers' Song and an inspired version of Leon Rosselson’s classic The World Turned Upside Down, made famous by a Billy Bragg cover reinterpreted here in a more traditional, drum-beat metered marching sound. This is a superb album and one that provides feisty music together with a timely reminder of the importance global history - without the events of the English uprising other democracies would not have taken the shape they did, or at least not as quickly.
The fusing of the various instruments works well (Attila plays a rauschpfeife - a conical reed musical instrument - at times), and the descriptor Baroque ‘n’ Roll has been applied - leading to this being a lively, foot-tapping, hard-hitting and sometimes poignant record. Bass and drums are mixed with the sprightly sounds of mandola, mandocello, violin, viola, and recorders. These are wandering minstrels with one foot in two periods of history.
There is plenty of history in the songs, such as the story of Charles (who became the restored monarch Charles II) who escaped to France in a ship moored at the bottom of our road in Shoreham Harbour after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. This is captured on the track The Fisherman's Tale, where a fisherman of today recounts a dream of capture the escaped prince.
As well as political songs and wry social commendatory, the album closes with a lovely tribute written by Attila to his wife Robina, which closes: "And one thing that's for sure is I love you - I can tell you that I always will."
Restoration Tragedy is only available as a double vinyl LP and CD on Roundhead Records via Attila's website or at gigs.
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