The Fascist Groove Thing : A History of Thatcher's Britain in 21 Mixtapes

(1 review)
Current Stock:
Adding to cart… The item has been added

The Fascist Groove Thing had many names: Thatcherism, monetarism, neoliberalism, individualism, militarism, nationalism, racism, and anti-unionism for a start. Popular music in Britain responded to this monster either by pretending it didn’t exist or by throwing every weapon it could muster at it. This book collects five hundred interesting songs that addressed one alarming feature of Thatcher’s Britain or another: the notional mixtape “Whistling in the Dark,” for example, consists of songs about Thatcher’s war on the trade unions; “Shopkeepers Arise!” comprises songs about consumerism and the rise of so-called popular capitalism. The chapters that follow each mixtape reconstruct the arguments these songs were having with Thatcher’s version of Britain (and, sometimes, with each other). The arguments are often polemical, frequently vitriolic, always riotous; they are an alternative account of the decade. This account mattered at the time because popular music said things that other media were unwilling or unable to say: when Thatcher dragged the country into a completely unnecessary war in the South Atlantic, for example, the TV news and the national newspapers dutifully cheered or kept quiet, so popular music provided a crucial national forum for critical dissent. These songs still matter today because they are a documentary record of that dissent. The Fascist Groove Thing’s been running the show for forty years now, and we’re forgetting that it wasn’t inevitable that it should turn out this way.


“It’s not often that reading history books works best with a soundtrack playing simultaneously, but Hugh Hodges has succeeded in evoking both the noises and the feel of a tumultuous 1980s. Proving that pop music is the historian’s friend, he has here recovered those who help us best make sense of a scary, precarious, and exciting world.”
—Matthew Worley, author of No Future: Punk, Politics and British Youth Culture, 1976–1984

“Very interesting and timely indeed.”
—Anne Clark, spoken word poet, The Smallest Act of Kindness

About the Contributors


  • 5
    Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry

    Posted by Phil Eaglesham on 11th May 2023

    To use another Heaven 17 analogy. This is a brilliantly researched musical timeline through the struggles, protests and soundtracks of the 1980s under the yolk of Tory rule. Those who stood up and those who stood by. A good analysis of pop subversion as well as punk anger and some deep dives into the anarcho scene set to political upheavals and community despair.