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Song You Need To Know: LCD Soundsystem, ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang’

Beloved dance-rock anthropologists revive 1980s synth-pop hit by Heaven 17 about dancing, dictatorship, and fighting the power.

Tristane I Mesquita

“History will repeat itself” declared Glenn Gregory — correctly — on the original version of “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,” in a voice partway between demented crooner and cyborg newscaster. The song was a minor and fitting hit for his U.K. synth-pop act Heaven 17, who took their name from the band in Anthony Burgess’ future-dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange. At the time it was recorded, Gregory was invoking President-elect Ronald Reagan (“Fascist god in motion/Generals tell him what to do”) and developments in Margaret Thatcher’s England, as he chided listeners “Don’t just sit there on your ass/Unlock that funky chaindance” over an assault of Linn drum beats, popping hard-funk bass, wirey post-punk guitars, and a woozy, Roxy Music-conjuring sax.

On their new live-in-the-studio LP Electric Lady Sessions (a reprise of their 2010 London Sessions), LCD Soundsystem frame their own remixed/remodeled favorites with a matched pair of political British synthpop hits, both from 1981: The Human League’s “Seconds,” about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the aforementioned by Heaven 17, who evolved directly from the Human League.

It’s sly symmetry from these anthropologists of late-20th-century dance-pop, who deliver an impressively breakneck and faithful reading of “Groove Thang.” Nancy Whang’s vocals adding a bonus layer of activist meaning for the #MeToo era, while the lyrics remain disturbingly spot on (“Evil men with racist views/Spreading all across the land … Europe’s an unhappy land … Democrats are out of power”). The only small change is when Whang notes “The Orange One is president.” Perhaps it’s time they start covering “Crushed By The Wheels (of Industry),” too.

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