Saturday, February 28, 2009


Staff Benda Bilili are like nothing you have ever seen or heard before. A group of paraplegic street musicians who live in and around the grounds of the zoo in Kinshasa, Congo, they make music of astonishing power and beauty. The band's mesmerising rumba-rooted grooves, overlaid with vibrant vocals, remind you at times of Cuban nonchalance, at other times of the Godfather of Soul himself. You can hear echoes of old-school rhythm and blues, then reggae, then no-holds barred funk. Four senior singer/guitarists sitting on spectacularly customized tricycles, occasionally dancing on the floor of the stage, arms raised in joyful supplication, are the core of the band, backed by a younger, all-acoustic, rhythm section pounding out tight beats. Over the top of this are weird, infectious guitar-like solos performed by young Roger Landu, (an ex-street kid the band took under their wing), who plays a one-string electric lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can.

The lyrics of the Staff Benda Bilili are wise, ironical advice to the people who live in the streets. In Lingala, "Benda Billi" means "look beyond appearances".

Entitled "Très Très Fort" ('Very Very Strong'... or 'Very Very Loud'), their first album was produced by Vincent Kenis (already responsible for introducing and producing Konono N°1, Kasaï Allstars and the Congotronics series). The songs were recorded out in the open, mainly in the zoological garden near centre ville. The album will be released in Feb/March 2009.

The physical version of the album contains video bonuses directed by Belle Kinoise aka Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret, who discovered the band while they were filming their "Jupiter's Dance" documentary in Kinshasa. Florent and Renaud have been documenting the story of the band since 2004, and are working on a feature-length film devoted to the life of Staff Benda Bilili, from the sidewalks of Kinshasa to their (upcoming) first concerts in Europe.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Palestine: Students under Occupation feat interview with Mordechai Vanunu 2003

Made by Stewart and Patrick. Two students members of Stop the War Coalition visit occupied Palestine to interview and build links with students resisting the occupation. Featuring interviews with Mordechai Vanunu and Arun Gandhi

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Strike at Fiat Melfi 2004 - English Subtitles

"Every industrial and commercial center in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the "poor whites" to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland. This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this."

Marx to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt
In New York