This guy's an agitant in the grand tradition but with a modernist twist, sounding often like Mike Scott of the Waterboys, vocally and compositionally. Like Scott, Rovics has an irrepressible passion and is damned if anyone's going to get in his way. The Left could use a hell of a lot more people like him, individuals not looking to make nice-nice with Oligarch Monsters Inc. (Republicans) or Oligarch Monsters Lite (Democrats). The composer is oft mentioned in the same breath with Seeger, Saint-Marie, Guthrie, etc., but the name they leave out is Bruce Cockburn, who pens a segment of his own tunes in much the same fashion - if you've heard the semi-hit If I Had a Rocket-Launcher, you know what I mean.
Speaking of the Left, Cindy Sheehan and Amy Goodman like Rovics a lot, and it's easy to see why, what with the Americana roots, aggressive frontier spirit, and "don't tread on me" lyrics. Each song bristles with vim and vigor, spitting in the face of the Establishment whilst grinning like a Cheshire Cat. You'll be regaled with tunes about RPG, Paul Wolfowitz, New Orleans, and other molar-grinding subjects. Dinosaurs may detect traces of Tom Rapp (Pearls Before Swine) in aspects of the oeuvre, as well as Tom Paxton and others, invisibly arising through a respect for tradition, the inevitability of direct or trickled-down influence.
A few critics will know my ire when I say I'd like to mention the backing band and quote the lyrics but the PR company decided to send me a flimsily crappy advance copy of the CD despite the fact the proper release has been out for months. The damn thing's little more than an index card with blurb-type; thus, it's impossible to relate such relevant info or the tone of the artwork, which I consider should be elements of review when warranted. Two of the biggest problems I've noted in 20 years of reviewing have inevitably been the lion's share of critics themselves and the PR gaggle, the latter of which seems ignobly dedicated to damaging the milieu for the sake of saving a penny.
(Consider that my addition to a Rovickian style of protest against the fuck-you attitude the industry too oft gifts good and bad crits alike with.)
It's stylish to pine for the days of yore, but, frankly, that's a proper sentiment, given the menu of disasters lately given as producted substitutes for art. This CD transports the listener back to the golden era, replete with the piss and vinegar that so denoted the times. Thank Christ there are guys like Rovics around, men unafraid to stand up, shake a fist, and shout "No more!", moving to back thought with action. The recording's once or twice shades tad off some of the full atmospherics it should have, particularly in a coupla vocal tracks, at times overly bright, but the band's gusto more than makes up for it.
Perhaps this take-no-prisoners troubadour might want, in a future song, to one day consider what's been so damaging to the market he's working in. Were the record industry not overheld by oil and other conglomerates, monopolies also controlling the airwaves, his work might have a fighting chance on the charts. When guys like Jimmy Rabbit were disc jockeys back in the 70s and when stations like KPPC were thoroughly devoted to trotting out unknown material, the audience received a daily menu of surprises from near and far, from favored and unknown ensembles alike. About the only guy presently upholding a ghost of that tradition is Jim Ladd…who, uh, we can't help but notice spins 99.9% big label fare, most often merely choosing alternate cuts or singling out ignored megacorporate LPs by well-established artists—Ladd is, after all, a starfucker. So, the question becomes: Is there a radio jock anywhere for whom the label of "rebel" isn't just an advertising pose and who's willing to air guys like Rovics? Depressingly, it appears not.
If the mood of this review got through, then you'll know how affecting David Rovics' music can be. Should you grow tired of watching the indoctrination device (television) and note a fleeting desire to recall what it was to have the blood pound and the mind race, you might want to consider giving Halliburton Boardroom Massacre a try. The no-nonsense lyrics (no resort to metaphor softens the hammering fusillade as Rovics fires point-blank), pugilistic stance, tuneful bedrock, great back-up, and heatedly clear-headed ire are simultaneously a blast furnace and a gale of fresh winds blowing implacably where others fear to tread. Before long, you'll be blinking your eyes, looking around, muttering "Where the Hell am I and what on Earth is going on here?"
It'll be a start.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Website design by David N. Pyles