Days Of No Immunity  –  Lewis Papier (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

o-SMALLPOX-570One of the things I love about Mr P’s music, and there are many things, is that you certainly get value for money. Where others might deliver a groovy beat and a set of fun but ultimately throwaway lyrics, Lewis Papier instead offers so much more. A song, an intricate and deftly wrought tune, an idea, an opinion and a history lesson all rolled into one, that’s value for money if ever I saw it. You can keep your landfill pop and cliched rock, give me something I can get my head engaged with anytime.

It’s a fascinating narrative, set in Leicester, a place long associated with the anti-vaccine movement right from its earliest days. We may think that such movements are a recent development but the arguments swirling around the practice of vaccination date back to the early1800’s when Jenner first sought to prove the validity of the idea. Here the story line starts small “Your son needs his treatment or else you’ll go to jail” but soon takes us to national concerns  “In the town of Leicester, such a mighty throng, arm in arm we marched against, the power of the state.” And against these historical drawing of battle lines it raises the question, how much of the eradication of diseases such as smallpox and cholera was due to vaccination and how much was due to the advances in sanitation also taking place? The pro-vaccination side of the argument may have taken the credit but perhaps it is time that history was re-evaluated, re-examined and where necessary re-written?

Jon Statham is again called on to provide the vocals and does so with conviction and that sense of the theatre which underpins much of Lewis’ work. Guitars cascade and strings sweep and the vocal narrative takes centre stage for a story which comes from the medical battlegrounds of Victorian England as the arrogant march of the new sciences ran roughshod over the legitimate concerns and fears of the people and often turned a blind eye to the actual consequences of their actions.

As always Lewis’s song does something that most music doesn’t, it makes you reach for the history books…or more likely the search engine…to find out more, research the back story, and in doing so reveals a chapter of history that has long been swept under the carpet of convenience.
Music is great when it makes you feel something but very rarely does it make you think this much and for that Lewis Papier has my undying, and largely unvaccinated, gratitude.


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