A Review of the Jack Hardy CD
"Coin Of The Realm"

"Coin Of The Realm"
by Jack Hardy

Copyright 2004
Great Divide Records
178 W. Houston #9
New York, NY 10004

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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The neo-conservatives have their Project for the 21st Century. What is it? It's a self-described "non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle."

Factor in suppositions such as these vis a vis the current state of affairs in Iraq and elsewhere, and the result is the grist for the mill that is the recurring theme of "Coin of the Realm."

Subtitled "Songs for the New American Century," Jack Hardy's latest release is an indictment of the neo-cons' and others blinding arrogance, willful cultural illiteracy and despicable morality cloaked in the cape of sanctimonius ideology.

In lesser hands, taking such a direction could have easily resulted in the easy but lazy name-calling route of simply stating that the neo-cons are bad people, akin to the "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry's bumbling results in the deportation of a restauranteur who shouts from his jail cell that Jerry Seinfeld is bad, a very bad person, very bad.

But Hardy, who lost a brother in the terrorist acts that brought down the World Trade Towers, blends blistering rants with incisive episodes of subtle nuance and reflection to create a highly lucid and literate release that eviscerates the surly who deign to ignore reality on the basis of their omnipotent authority to create, not react, to such.

"In Bed with the Enemy" is the standout example. Skewering President Bush while covering subject matter from those (otherwise known as his base) pickpocketing the wallet of this nation, Jeb Bush's role in the 2000 Florida vote recount debacle or the desire to go to war with Iraq, it opens with:

"It's hard to rattle your saber
when you're in bed with the enemy
everyone's tallying up favors
and kissing you like it's Gethsemane...

It closes with:

"...now you want to go to war
with your cool coward's vengeance
get their minds off elections
and their bottomed out pensions
your blue blood boiling
with cowboy condescension..."

Whether it be the fervent desire to distance himself from this country's economic downturn or the 'bad news' emanating out of Iraq, Hardy sings of Bush in his chorus:

...you banged up this Barbie in a whole lotta trouble
said: "you're money's on the dresser and I'm done with you"
but she's not moving out she's in love with you..."

The title cut, "Coin of the Realm," showcases the difficult transition of rebel into ruler, with the resulting tamping down and transformation of the opposer into defender of the status quo.

The biblical "Cain and Abel" pointedly questions the efficacy of almighty power.

About the tumult of the 1960s and the Vietnam War, "Sword in the Stone" uses touches of Arthurian legend to depict the difficult choices facing many young men during that time.

"Denial" pokes at the escapades, fallibilities and resulting 'excuses' of the power elite--Presidents Clinton and Bush, the 'fallen leaders' inhabiting organized religion and just about anyone who has fallen on his or her own sword--who always seem to skirt by mirrors without ever catching a realistic glimpse of the cause of their problems.

Connecting the subjects of the sometimes dangerous and deadly treks of economic immigrants to this country, economic voraciousness and the 9/11 loss of lives, "Pray for Me" travels the touchy road of explanation for these events.

Hardy closes with the quietly powerful "Holy Ground," an indictment of the ecclesiastical mighty and those possessors of 'the truth,' of the blood spilled in so-called acts and attitudes of righteousness and of those who seek divinity via material offerings. The last two lines go:

"...take this sword, if you still insist
divide the child, said Solomon is his wisdom."

Red state or blue state, agree or disagree with Hardy's philosophy and leanings, there is depth and subject matter a-plenty here for digestion. Kudos to Hardy for speaking his mind without resorting to lies, distortions and Orwellian doublespeak. Bravo to this much needed new currency--may this 'coin of the realm' remain in circulation forever.

Track List:

All songs written by Jack Hardy.

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