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Various Artists - Hail To The Thief # 2   Songs To Send Bush Packing

Hail To The Thief # 2
Songs To Send Bush Packing

Various Artists

Running Scared Productions
P. O. Box 697
New York, NY 10033

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Guntram Gudowius

By the time I read about this production and requested to review the CD, sadly it was too late already, but I was still interested in what efforts folks in the US would go to effect a change. Plus, I thought it would give me proof to present to my friends when they wonder why I do like the USA as a country.

Even though the desired change did not come, this compilation is a document of history through the eyes of the people and should be featured in schools and libraries. As a citizen of Old Europe, I might not be familiar with every quote or detail referred to in the songs, but the lyrics certainly reveal refreshing perspectives on the inner and outer "workings" of the government and its cronies.

What makes this compilation so interesting is the combination of familiar veterans of political and protest song like Tom Paxton, Utah Phillips, Faith Petric, Magpie, Julius Margolin, Kim & Reggie Harris and folks who might have listened to and were influenced by them. While all songs have political content, not everyone deals directly with the president, rather some offer a greater view of the possible consequences.

For the prelude Hail To The Thief! is played on the bowed saw by Chris Bricker with some guest Kazoos to make it a march (It says they are played by George B., must be a different one or did I miss something?) followed by Stupid's Pledge recited by Utah Phillips and hailing from another Bush and another war, still up to date.

George Mann sings I'm George W. in which he takes a closer look at pre White House George B. Jr., set to the tune of Stephen Foster's Oh, Susanna and with banjo, mandolin and harmonica accompaniment giving it a kind of hillbilly feel.

Kim and Reggie Harris give us with Big, Big World the broader view and revive the term New World order made famous by George's Dad, all set to some nice acoustic rock music.

It's About Oil is not only the opinion of Montana singer Amy Martin who takes care to uncover the different disguises and pretenses which served as reasons for the war. Some clever play with words make me chuckle.

Steve Brooks, who has the knack to write a song about any subject and put some kind of twist in it, comes up with BushWhacked, He gives an explanation to the beaten people who lost their jobs or who have jobs but still can't make ends meet. Packaged as Texas swing with chorus.

Magpie give us another view through George's eyes in I Trust The People, performed in their harmonious style.

Tom Paxton calls many of his songs of particular political events "short shelf life songs" The one in this collection, called In Florida, does not let us forget what happened in that state on the day of and after the election in 2000. In good Tom Paxton tradition, it comes with a smirk ;-)

Again Utah Phillips, this time reading a poem by Bertold Brecht called General brings things down to the essential, the soldiers who need to make all the equipment work.

I Don't Want To Be A Soldier lists many of the reasons why people should not serve in the armies of the world and the voices of 88year old Julius Margolin and George Mann resonate with sincerity in their pledge for peace.

Lisa Rogers put presidential quotes in Bless His Heart and thus apologizes for the Head of State and the state of mind he's in, explaining why the guys in the background pull the ropes — "With a presidential push he's a "Son-Of-A-Bush" — and other clever lines can be heard in that song by Mark Levy with accompanying 12-string guitar.

Julius Margolin and Faith Petric take up the roles of concerned parents in George Mann's song If You Were My Son, I'd Whack You One, which while not advocating child abuse, still raises the question of the old-fashioned discipline to set that "boy" straight.

In The World From The Bottom Up And Other Observations, Utah Phillips compares the worth of a human life, be it fallen war hero or frozen homeless person, and the rage that continues to rise in a growing number of people in the face of ongoing injustice.

With the tunes of Beans, Bacon and Gravy and Solidarity Forever set to new words by Bernard Gilbert, San Francisco's Labor Heritage-Rockin' Solidarity Labor Chorus brings us to the present and point at the lies that were told by the government on a variety of issues with W Medley II.

Pat Humphries and Sandy O. team up as Emma's Revolution and sing "Peace, Salaam, Shalom," a song that could have been sung for a long time and probably will have to be sung for some time to come.

In Jen Cass's Dear Mr. President, Joe Jencks sings a letter to the President as written by a disillusioned soldier who claims that "I don't think it's treason to ask for a reason, nothing you told us is true" and framed with the opening and closing line "…I know you probably won't read this…"

After the instrumental Home, Home On The Range interlude two songs by George Mann finish the album, the first implicating Bush and his gang as rotten apples who spoil the country for people like you and me and thus need to be shaken off the tree and thrown out. The sound of George and Julius's backing band brings the balancing driving confidence and almost happiness to the angry lyrics. The last song If I Only Had A Brain, the old chestnut, of course, with updated and clever words about you know who and sung by George and Julius, lets you get away with a grin even though it increases the bewilderment that someone like that could become the head of such a great country.

I am amazed that 88 year old Julius was executive producer of this project and that he and George M. produced the first volume in August 2001.

It certainly is not only a time document but also provides listening pleasure and hope for the future. .

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2004, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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