Leon Rosselson

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Thu Nov 2 10:29:25 MST 2000

Leon Rosselson
Harry's Gone Fishing
Gadfly Records (www.gadflyrecords.com)

Wry socialist-anarchism, with a sharp historical eye and a taste for good,
strong melody. That's the reputation of Leon Rosselson, most widely known
for "The World Turned Upside Down," his song about the 17th century English
revolutionaries called Diggers, which has been covered by Billy Bragg, Dick
Gaughan and others.

This fine CD bolsters that reputation. Rosselson gives us a supplemental
Diggers song, "You Noble Diggers All," featuring lyrics by the Diggers own
prophet, Gerrard Winstanley. "Stand up now!," the song commands, against
lords, gentry, clergy, lawyers and their "law of clubs." Rousing, indeed.

This is one of the most thoughtful "folk" albums you are likely to hear.
Like Dick Gaughan's great records, it takes some paying-attention to in
order to get the full effect. Augmented by Martin Carthy on guitar and a
fine, subtle backup group, Rosselson offers touching songs of love and loss
("She Came From Out of Nowhere" and the self-analytical, grateful "Encore").

Rosselson's great strength, of course, is his eye for current history and
the unfinished struggle of the poor against vicious attack. "Mercenaries"
demonstrates how it is money that drives all soldiers to do what they do,
for good, or, all too often, for very grave ill.  "Postcards from Cuba" is
a long, fascinating meditation on the course of revolution and the ghost of
Che, ending with hope despite disillusionment, and the defiant assertion
that "Cuba is alive today."

Some listeners may find Rosselson overly-wordy, or too self-conscious. He
certainly bares his soul, and his admirable political consciousness, for
all to see (and hear). His vocabulary and erudition are daunting; there are
no simple songs here.  But if you are willing to get in there, take a bite
and chew on these songs, you will find them nourishing. It's good stuff for
the brain and the soul. - Bill Nevins

Song: "Child Killers"
composed by Leon Rosselson
(c)2000 Rosselsongs and Gadfly Records, used by permission
used by permission


Louis Proyect
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