This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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It's comforting to know there are still musicians today displaying the courage of their political convictions, however miniscule the financial rewards and personal recognition may be for their performances. Janet Stecher and Susan Lewis, aka Rebel Voices, are such a duo. Borrowing their moniker from part of a rich, violent and unfortunately unknown vein of labor history, Stecher and Lewis titled themselves after a Joyce Kornbluh book featuring the creative art of members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Rebel Voices are not fence straddlers--their music is of and for the underdog and the disenfranchised, damning the selfish, short-sighted and harmful policies and acts of governments and individuals.
"Borderlines" addresses the hopscotching of manufacturing to what are the cheapest labor forces du jour around the world. Stecher and Lewis harmonize:
"...I guess I finally put it all togetherSimultaneously saluting the resistance of, and excoriating the unjust imprisonment of Geronimo Jijaga, Sundiata Acoli and Leonard Peltier, "If You Can See Me" pleads for light to be shined on political prisoners everywhere. They sing:
Borderlines don't hold their loyalty
They don't care who is the drone
Hands of yellow, black or brown
Profit is their only deity..."
"...I am not famous, I'm not Mandela"I Hype The Songs" is Barry Manilow's worst nightmare. Stecher and Lewis offer:
But I am imprisoned in a jail...
...Down at the market,
No one talks about it,
On the TV you won't hear my tale.
But if you can see me,
Then they must free me,
Won't you please lift up the veil..."
"I've been extremely clever,Tossing in another dash of humor with "Billions of Brain Cells Ago," a ditty about..., about..., oh yes, one of the golden age glorious effects of aging, they sing:
You think you hear a good song
I package words and the melodies together
Call it music and I hype the songs
I hype the songs and give the whole world trash
I hype whatever songs will bring in the cash
I hype the songs that make musicians cry
I hype the songs, I hype the songs..."
"There's so much I've forgottenCharlie King's "There Is A Wall," places the hoopla surrounding the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in a larger context. Stecher and Lewis sing:
My lights are dim, my lobes are lame
I know I'll never think the same
But at least they didn't die in vain
The things I used to know
Billions of brain cells ago..."
"...There is a wall, and its the oldest wall of all,The chorus goes:
Stretched back from my doorstep straight back to 1492
It hides the ovens, it hides
The settlements, the homelands,
Pink triangles, shackles, passbooks and tattoos...
There is a wall, and its the meanest wall of all,
A wall of fear: holds danger out, desire in.
A wall that bristles each time
The warden brings back tales,
Inside we're starving to buy the bricks
To build the cells,
To bury love, to bar the door, to ban the stranger..."
"...Don't you want a piece of that wallStecher and Lewis have pleasing voices and their engaging harmonies provide a bonus to the listener. For those left wondering where our social conscience has gone, try Rebel Voices.
When it comes down?
Don't you want to live to see it fall,
When it comes around?
When that wall is gone
No matter which side you were on,
Can you say you took a piece of that wall down?
Don't you want a piece of that wall?..."
Janet Stecher and Susan Lewis on vocals are assisted by Ruthie Dornfeld on violin; David Lange on piano and synthesizer; Janet Peterson on cello; and Greg Scott on ukulele, bass, percussion and guitar.
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