A Review of the Anne Feeney CD
"Have You Been To Jail For Justice?"

the Anne Feeney/Chris Chandler CD
"Live From The Wholly Stolen Empire"

"Have You Been To Jail For Justice?"
by Anne Feeney

"Live From The Wholly Stolen Empire"
by Anne Feeney/Chris Chandler


This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/05
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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The Left isn't dead, not as long as Anne Feeney and Chris Chandler are alive, breathing and recording. These two artists use their material to stoke the fires of what they hope to be the funeral pyre of injustice in all its forms, and appear to have a grand time while doing it.

First things first: Feeney's solo release, "Have You Been To Jail For Justice?," is laden with socio-political recordings. The title cut of the same name lauds those in the past willing to accept both noxious aspersions cast and physical injury inflicted by the threatened powers-that-be in the fight for human rights. It also calls for others to step up now and continue on. Think about it--the many things we now take for granted in this country such as no child labor, the right to vote given to women and minorities, the 40-hour work week and eight hour day, the right to unionize, were all virulently opposed at one time. But first one person, then another, then another stood up to fight the moral fight.

"Rebuild America--Keep Hope Alive" repeats a line that still provides tingles: "...keep your eye on the prize and hold on..."

"War On The Workers" opens with:

"Listen up--we've got a war zone here today
Right in our heartland, and across the USA
These multinational bastards don't use tanks and guns it's true
But they've declared a war on us--fight back! It's up to you..."

The continued search for cheaper and cheaper labor is explored in "Maquiladoras." The struggles of families affected by outsourcing is the motif of "Whatever Happened To The Eight Hour Day?"

Welfare of a different sort, the type we rarely hear or read about in the main mass media, is seared in "The Corporate Welfare Song":

"...We should all be irate at the corporate welfare state
Right here in this mightiest of nations
AFDC is disgraceful to me
I'm talking Aid For Dependent Corporations
Free enterprise! Ha! The cruelest of lies!"

Thankfully someone is continuing to perform the music of the late Al Grierson. Feeney wisely includes two Grierson songs, "Widow's Lament" and "Flowers Of Auschwitz," which, alone, provide enough reason to purchase this CD.

Eric Schwartz' clever but lacerating "Who Da Bitch Now?" provides memories of the atrocities committed against James Bryd, Matthew Sheperd and Abner Louima, respectively.

Well, you get it by now. Feeney is a defender of the defenseless, a musical fighter for economic and social fairness. Some may say a rabble-rouser. Take the latter as a compliment, Ms. Feeney.

"Live From The Wholly Stolen Empire" is as indicated, a live release compiled from a number of venues where Feeney and Chris Chandler performed.

It tackles many of the same subjects as Feeney's solo CD but in a very different style. Chandler is a spoken word artist, and he and Feeney intersperse his 'raps' with her singing various songs that dovetail with the subject matter Chandler is presenting. In short, Chandler generally leads with his verbal 'vision quests' and Feeney connects musically to them. Together, they skewer various aspects of American life and culture, as well as the pompous and self-inflated figures in our everyday life.

"Carnivals #3," probably the most clever riff here, pokes at the freak show starring Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, John Ashcroft, George Bush, the late Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, Henry Kissinger, John Poindexter, SUVs, CNN, uber-consumerism and more.

Taking on reality television in "The 21st Century Skid Row Man," one of Chandler's cracks is: "...we'll prove Iraq has the bomb if we have to drop it on them ourselves..." Feeney backs Chandler singing verses of American patriotic songs.

"Whoops/I Shall Be Released" lambastes the over-the-top American desire for security and safety protections.

Chandler creatively goes in many directions throughout "Top Banana/People Get Ready," lampooning vocational directions of various figures. One gem: he describes the floors of the commodity markets as "mosh pits of the corporate world."

Environmental abuse is the primary subject in Chandler's funny, yet sad, "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Abyss/Round-Up Ready."

An ATMinduced to invoke words spoken by Martin Luther King opens "Freedom Is.../I Am A Pilgrim," where Chandler provides the details of independence seen through what seems to be the eyes of Timothy Leary-type travel.

With "Martin Luther Classic/Food," Chandler and Feeney twine cable television, the printing press, fig leaves, the wheel, Latin, Martin Luther, the Pope, the Crusaders, hunger and capitalism. Did I miss any?.

What certainly deserves mention on this particular release is the clever tie-ins between the subject matter of Chandler's riffs and the choice of songs Feeney sings.

The ghosts, but more importantly, the legacies of Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, the Berrigan Brothers, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks and others, thankfully live on through Chandler and Feeney. Of course, their next release could be titled "Live From Guantanamo Bay."

Track List:

"Have You Been To Jail For Justice?"

"Live From The Wholly Stolen Empire"

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