The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures

Review: Let Freedom Sing! Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Time/Life (2009)
By JEFF TAMARKIN  |  January 6, 2009
4.0 4.0 Stars


In any given Black History Month, the three-disc Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement would be a powerful anthology. But its release a week after the Obama inauguration will give these anthems and rarities chronicling African-American struggle, pride, and empowerment greater meaning — if not quite a definitive sense of closure, then at least one of measurable progress.

The subtitle is something of a misnomer, since the recordings span nearly seven decades, from Billie Holiday's 1939 "Strange Fruit" through recent tributes by Mavis Staples and the Blind Boys of Alabama. And though the focus is on those '50s-'70s cornerstones — Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddam," the Impressions' "People Get Ready," James Brown's "Say It Loud — I'm Black and I'm Proud," Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" — it's the earliest inclusions, the harrowing accounts of Jim Crow and racist murder and the defiant black response, that stir the strongest emotion.

As we listen now to Big Bill Broonzy wonder, in 1955, "When Do I Get To Be Called a Man?" and the Golden Gate Quartette long for a world with "No Restricted Signs," it's easier to imagine a promise fulfilled. And when Otis Redding volunteers his impassioned take on Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," we can finally reply with an honest "Yes it is."

  Topics: CD Reviews , Barack Obama, Barack Obama, Entertainment,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Today's Event Picks
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ROSANNE CASH | THE LIST  |  September 28, 2009
    In 1973, when she was an 18-year-old rock fan, Rosanne Cash's dad gave her a list of songs he felt she should know — mostly country, all falling under the current banner Americana. She held onto that list, and now she's recorded a dozen tunes from it.
  •   REVIEW: BEBEL GILBERTO | ALL IN ONE  |  September 24, 2009
    There couldn’t be a more apropos title than the one Bebel Gilberto has given her fourth album.
  •   GEORGE THOROGOOD | THE DIRTY DOZEN  |  July 22, 2009
    Before you press PLAY, you know what you're going to get on The Dirty Dozen : music to drink lots of beer by.
  •   SON VOLT | AMERICAN CENTRAL DUST  |  July 15, 2009
    With American Central Dust , Jay Farrar has now accomplished something he was unable to do either during Son Volt's initial run (1995-99) or his evidently aborted solo career (2001-04): released three consecutive albums of undeniable quality.
  •   DAVID BOWIE | STORYTELLERS  |  July 07, 2009
    Bowie was particularly relaxed and reflective when he took his star turn on VH1's Storytellers program 10 years ago next month.

 See all articles by: JEFF TAMARKIN

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group