Billy Bragg’s “Help Save the Youth of America” was written under the threat of nuclear Armageddon, at a time when Ronald Reagan was threatening the security of countries all over the planet. The lunatic actor famously used a sound check to threaten, “We begin bombing in five minutes.” Bragg’s song appealed to the peoples of the world to do something to help save American kids from their own leader. It was a scary time, but such humour was both subversive and life-affirming.
Val Solo’s latest release, “When Reagan Ruled the World,” draws on the more upbeat aspects of the culture of that time. With an infectious, melodic twist on Men Without Hats and other poptastic sounds from the 80s, Solo crafts an homage to the era of the Rubik’s Cube, blue eyeliner, crimped hair, leg warmers – and, of course, the ever-present threat of global thermonuclear war.
The S.P.O.C.K keyboard man hasn’t released a solo album since Songs from Another Space…and Time in 2017, so the news that a new set is forthcoming is very welcome. The risk of a nuclear exchange is back for another generation, which has it’s own chance to help save the youth of America. This is also their time to dance.