Billy Bragg cuts tribute CD to International Brigades

‘Jarama Valley’, the song inspired by one of the key battles of the Spanish Civil War, has been recorded by the Bard Of Barking, Billy Bragg for a new CD marking the 75th¬†anniversary of the conflict.

The Battle of Jarama, southeast of Madrid claimed the lives of 150 members of the British Battalion of the International Brigades in February 1937 when Franco’s fascist forces tried unsuccessfully to surround the Spanish capital.

The disc also features Maxine Peake, backed by Urban Roots dub ensemble, as she delivers the famous speech by Spanish Republican leader Dolores Ibarruri – (aka La Pasionaria) – at the farewell parade to the International Brigades in Barcelona on October 28 1938.

‘Jarama Valley’ was written anonymously, to the tune of ‘Red River Valley’ it became the unofficial anthem of the British volunteers and has been sung by veterans and their supporters to this day at events to commemorate the legendary International Brigades.

Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger recorded the song using US lyrics referring to the ‘Lincoln Battalion’.

As well as the Battle of Jarama, this year sees the 75th anniversaries of the battles of Brunete, Belchite and Teruel, in all of which the British Battalion took part.

“The International Brigade volunteers were part of a generation of anti-fascists who stopped the Blackshirts at Cable Street and then fought Hitler, Mussolini and Franco on the battlefields of Spain,” Billy Bragg says.

“While their own government was appeasing the fascist dictators, these brave volunteers knew that fascism had to be defeated and were prepared to die in order to do so. I’m proud to play my part in preserving their memory.¬†They will continue to be an inspiration to all of us involved in anti-fascist campaigns today.”

Maxine Peake said: “The words of La Pasionaria eloquently express everything that needs to be said about the International Brigades. I’m honored to be able to recite her speech and help make sure that their example of international solidarity and anti-fascism is remembered today.”

Specially produced for the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT), the artists have donated their talents for free and proceeds from the CD go towards the trust’s work.

The IBMT keeps alive the memory of the 2,500 men and women who went to Spain from 1936-39 to join the International Brigades to help the Spanish republic as it tried to put down the military revolt launched by Franco with support from Hitler and Mussolini. The civil war is regarded by many historians as a prelude to the Second World War.

The Jarama Valley/Brigadista reprise CD is available exclusively from the IBMT and can be ordered for £5 plus £1.99 international shipping from www.international-brigades.org.uk (accept payment by MasterCard, Visa, American Express; can use PayPal).

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