Anti-Nazi Song Consigned to off-peak (Independent on Sunday, 15 May 1994) 1994
TAYLOR'S ANTI-NAZI SONG CONSIGNED TO OFF-PEAK PLAY
Independent On Sunday 15th May 1994
Roger Taylor, formerly of Queen: 'The media seems shy of it'
ROGER TAYLOR, former drummer and vocalist with the band Queen, recorded his latest single, "Nazis 1994", hoping to strike a blow against the rising tide of neo-Nazism. The record trumpets a simple message: "We got to kick those stinking Nazis."
He reckoned without the broadcasters, record retailers and advertising watchdogs who object to politics in pop. Thirty independent record shops have refused to stock the single, fearing reprisals from neo-Nazis. The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre has banned the use of the offending phrase from any advertisement for the single.
A spokesman said yesterday: "What we objected to was some of the lyrics they intended to use in the commercials. We deemed this to be in breach of the Radio Authority code on political advertising. Clearly he is not referring to a non-existent party but the extreme right wingers - the BNP and the British Movement or whatever they are called."
The BBC's reaction was more subtle. It does not ban records any more; when it did the offending discs stormed to the top of the charts.
But a panel of six senior producers, chaired Radio One managing director Paul Robinson, decided Taylor's offering was not a record for daytime listening, despite the fact the that it entered the pop charts at number 22.
The panel, which meets every Thursday morning, selects the 40 singles that Radio One daytime DJs will play the following week. Taylor's record was consigned to a few late night airings.
A BBC spokesman refused to explain why the record had not been included in the play list: "All I am allowed to tell you is either it is on the play list or it is not.
"There is no formal restriction on this record. In our judgement it deserves to be played some but not a lot so if it is played it is likely to be after the nine o'clock watershed."
Allan Jones, a writer and one of the country's leading authorities on popular music, said there were far too many records with unacceptable lyrics - particularly in the rap genre - for the BBC to ban them all.
"But it's a sensitive time with the D-Day celebrations coming up,' he said. Taylor himself is bewildered. "For me it is not political. It is a case of fundamental right and wrong. Peddling hatred through ignorance is wrong.
"The record is fairly out spoken but it doesn't make any political statements in my view. I find it odd that it is a successful record but the media seems shy of it."
He said he was concerned about the rise of far right groups in Europe and the election of Vladimir Zhirinovsky to the Russian parliament.
He dismissed suggestions that he might be jumping on an anti-racism bandwagon: "For a start, I don't need the cash. The more done to raise awareness of the dangerous things coming out, the better. Increasingly, the idea is spreading that the holocaust didn't happen. A lot of young people who don't know could easily believe that."
But why didn't he just stick to making nice, safe pop records? "Wouldn't that be lovely and cosy?" he said.
"We [pop stars] are people not androids. We've got views. I'm 44, I've got opinions and I don't see why I shouldn't use a bit of my art to put them over. I think music is one of the most powerful media forces in the world today."
Panel members did not know that Taylor had already toned down the record. In one version of the song he gave full vent to his spleen and hardened the lyrics to include obscenities.
In truth, notwithstanding Taylor's fine intentions and renowned musicianship, "Nazis 1994" is not an earth-shattering record. It is repetitive, monotonous, a drum-driven drone. Here are some of the lyrics:
And they say that it didn't happen
What the Nazis did to the Jews
If they think they've a second coming
Then we got different news
"I'm sure his heart is in the right place," Allan Jones said. "But it is just not a very good record. Let's face it - he's an ageing rock star and they just don't want to play his record.
"Pop station audiences want little boys that they can look at and fancy or dance records. This song, as well as being controversial lyrically, is not a good tune."