Demo tapes

Demo Tapes brought together newly-digitised sound archives and music groups around the north west region to create new works around the theme of protest.

Musicians Pops Roberts and Phillip Howley led workshops with young people at More Music in Morecambe, Collective Encounters in Liverpool and Brighter Sound in Manchester in May and June 2021. The groups listened to sound archives relating to protest and politics and created new works in response to them.

You can listen to their new tracks and the archive audio that inspired them here:

New music – track list

More Music

Baybeat Streetband – Some People Think There Is No End 00:03:00
Baybeat Streetband – It’s Not Your Song It’s Our Song 00:06:14
More Media Collective – Last Chance To Dance 00:08:54
More Media Collective – We Had The Magic 00:13:58
[Archive] Peter Cookson on growing up in the 1980s without positive gay role models, 2014 (Archives+ LGBT CENTRE/6) 00:18:42

Collective Encounters

Collective Encounters – Role Models 00:21:40
[Archive] Joe and Peter perform The Leaving of Liverpool at Jacqui and Bridie’s Club in Liverpool (Archives+ MASON/59) 00:26:41
Collective Encounters – Why Blame Me? 00:31:02
Collective Encounters – We Are People Too 00:34:37

Pops Roberts & Phillip Howley

[Archive] Millie Bobker on her introduction to 1930s anti-fascism, 1978 (Tameside Local Studies & Archives 1103/763-1) 00:38:58
[Archive] Female reads a song about giving, 1981 (Bolton History Centre BOLTONOH/50) 00:42:01
Pops Roberts & Phillip Howley – Give Yourself 00:42:39
[Archive] Mill hooter & miners riding a loco on their way to the coal face at Bickershaw Colliery, Leigh, 1991 (Archives+ SOUNDS/80 &115) 00:46:51

Brighter Sound

Brighter Sound – The Train 00:48:32
[Archive] Mary Johnson remembers the local community’s fear after the 1957 Windscale fire, 2010 (Whitehaven Archive Centre SS/25) 00:50:41
Brighter Sound – Spilled Milk 00:52:44
[Archive] Colin Wilkie and Shirley Hart sing ‘You won’t get me down your mine’ (Archives+ GRANEY/15) 00:56:39
Brighter Sound – We Ain’t Loving It 00:59:50
[Archive] Raymond Ahern describes the community spirit on the Moston miner’s estate, 2015 (Archives+ BRADFORD PIT/19) 01:04:07
Brighter Sound – Before We Blink 01:05:43
[Archive] Luchia Fitzgerald on going to the Union Hotel for the first time in the early 1960s, 2016 (Archives+ OH/4314) 01:11:19
Brighter Sound – Untitled 01:13:12
[Archive] Mike Nixon on changing weather patterns, 2011 (Carlisle Archive Centre DSO 313/37) 01:17:45
Brighter Sound – Slow Down It’s Not Time Yet 01:18:31
Brighter Sound – Black Lives Matter 01:22:35

Rioghnach Connolly

Rioghnach Connolly – A Stór Mo Chroí (Treasure Of My Heart) 01:27:22
Rioghnach ConnollyThe Story Of Cotton 01:32:27

[Archive] Paul Graney introduces Marie Little’s version of The Story Of Cotton (Archives+ GRANEY/443) 01:38:58

[Archive] American hobo sings his train song (Archives+ RMAN/1146) 01:46:13
[Archive] Ivan Fryman sings the Bradford Pit song (Archives+ MISCEL/994) 01:47:21
[Archive] My father was a docker (Archives+ MASON/59) 01:48:25
[Archive] The ballad of the tunnel (Archives+ MASON/85) 01:50:58
[Archive] The Black Diamond Folk Group perform Oh Freedom at the Howff club, 1965 (Archives+ MASON/85) 01:53:55
[Archive] The Hooters perform We Shall Overcome at the Hooters club, Birkenhead, 1965 (Archives+ MASON/18) 01:56:22

Listen to sound archives

The blogs listed below give introductions to some of the recordings we have digitised recently which might inspire you, including stories of political involvement, queer creative response, anti-nuclear protest, climate change, industrial protest and mass trespass. Where possible we have included download links in case you would like to sample the clips.

You can also find a playlist for each North West collection digitised by Unlocking Our Sound Heritage over at our Listen page. You might also want to have a listen to the Archives+ Soundcloud which holds all kinds of clips from the sound archives held at Manchester Central Library.


You can go behind the scenes on the project and find out what it was like to be involved in this podcast produced by Reform Radio:

Demo Tapes Radio Show

Demo Tapes Radio Show

A radio edit of last week's Demo Tapes performance will be broadcast on Friday 30th July 1-3pm on Reform Radio
Demo Tapes poster for 13 July gig

New commission: Give Yourself

New music released by Pops Roberts and Phillip Howley in response to political sound archives.
Songs from Under the Flightpath

Songs from Under the Flightpath

Listen to protest music performed at the Bollin Valley protest camp against Manchester Airport's Runway 2 in 1997
Songs of protest from London (via Whalley Range)

Songs of protest from London (via Whalley Range)

Introducing Songs of Protest, a radio series on the history of protest song.
Sound effects for music sampling

Sound effects for music sampling

Sound effects you are welcome to download and re-use.
Women’s Lib? “Well, I’m all for it”

Women’s Lib? “Well, I’m all for it”

Women born at the start of the twentieth century compare the politics of women's liberation of their youth in the 1930s with the 1960s and 1970s.
Pride, Protest, Action, Art! (Part One)

Pride, Protest, Action, Art! (Part One)

Luchia Fitzgerald and Angela Cooper on queer politics of resistance and support in 1970s Manchester.
Pride, Protest, Action, Art! (Part Two)

Pride, Protest, Action, Art! (Part Two)

Queerupnorth oral histories - queer artists look back on LGBTQ+ representation and social change.
Living in the nuclear age

Living in the nuclear age

Sellafield and the politics of nuclear power.
Environment Emergency

Environment Emergency

The effects of farming, climate change and tourism on the High Fells environment in Cumbria.
Introducing Demo Tapes

Introducing Demo Tapes

Why we are using sound recordings to inspire new songs on the theme of protest.
Working Class Movement Library cassettes

Songs from the pit

Song and speech on coalmining and miners strikes.
Sounds of the sea

Sounds of the sea

Songs and stories about the sea.
Protest Music and Political Life - part 2

Protest Music and Political Life – part 2

Women share stories of gaining confidence from the struggle against injustice in the 1930s.

Breaking Into Song

Oral history interviewees sing songs from memory.
Protest Music and Political Life - part 1

Protest Music and Political Life – part 1

Women share their stories of becoming more politically active and getting involved with campaigns in the 1930s.
Cotton, Curry and Commerce in Oldham

Cotton, Curry and Commerce in Oldham

Cotton, Curry and Commerce was a two-year collaborative oral history project between the Asian Business Association and Oldham Local Studies
Suffragettes - animation for International Women's Day

Suffragettes – animation for International Women’s Day

In the run up to International Women's Day I gave a number of sound clips to one of the Archives+ Community


This LGBT History Month, ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’ presented a room of curated archive audio and immersive projections. Manchester’s LGBTQ+
The Housewives of Wythenshawe

The Housewives of Wythenshawe

The strange and wonderful story of the Wythenshawe Communist Party’s ‘Trial of Mary Brown'.
English Voices, Asian Stories

English Voices, Asian Stories

Asian people from Tameside share their first experiences of arriving in the UK.
The Sound of Protest

The Sound of Protest

Oral histories are interviews with people talking about their memories of things that have happened in their life. They can
Fight Like a Girl

Fight Like a Girl

She just asked me one day…‘would I like to wrestle?’ The life of a woman wrestler in 1970s Manchester.
Women's Voices in the Crowd

Women’s Voices in the Crowd

Vicki Caren reflects on some of the women's voices she has catalogued so far... I am the Cataloguing Manager for