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
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
Environmental abuse is the primary subject in Chandler's funny,
yet sad, "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Abyss/Round-Up
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
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
"Have You Been To Jail For Justice?"
"Live From The Wholly Stolen Empire"
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