Search - Paul Robeson :: Songs for Free Men: 1940-45

Songs for Free Men: 1940-45
Paul Robeson
Songs for Free Men: 1940-45
Genres: Folk, Special Interest, New Age, Pop, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists, Gospel
  •  Track Listings (27) - Disc #1


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This is the voice of Free Men....
Rachel Howard | ocklawaha, Florida United States | 11/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've had most of these songs on vinyl and they provide me with many wonderful memories. Paul Robeson had an unusual voice: a bass with baritone colorations, huge and powerful, with what can best be described as a mellow urgency. If that description confuses, then you'll just have to get this album and hear for yourself what I mean.
Robeson championed the cause of the working man through his music. Joe Hill is one of my favorites, in which Paul sinks down to the vocal depths with an astounding ease. The Song of the Plains is a rouser, and, if I remember correctly, it's sung in two languages. The Ballad For Americans is here, and it's a classic... and, for me, it's the very definition of America and the great spirit and soul of its people and its greatness. By and By is one of my favorite spirituals, and this is the version I remember. Who sang spirituals with as much richness and depth of feeling as Paul Robeson? Maybe Marian Anderson, whose voice was unique and whose life broke through so many barriers.
This is an album for those who love freedom and the many races who seek it. God bless Paul Robeson for his incredible contribution to humanity."
The many sides of Paul Robeson...
Joe Anthony (a.k.a. JAG 1) | Massachusetts, USA | 06/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"These World War II recordings by the great Paul Robeson make for an interesting collection. Although Robeson's communist leanings are in fully evident in this collection, it should be noted that when these recordings were made the Soviet Union was a war-time ALLY of the United States. Robeson's renditions of these Soviet and left-leaning songs are also quite rousing, if one can get over the underlying Marxist-Leninist tone. As a patriotic American, sometimes I have qualms about seperating Robeson's outstanding talents from his political bent. Then again, taking into account the horrible treatment of African-Americans in the USA during Robeson's time, one can understand why he may have looked to the USSR and communism as an alternative to deeply entrenched racism and segregation.

All-in-all this collection reveals the many sides of Paul Robeson: his true Americanism; also his misguided infatuation with the USSR; as well as his deep and soulful connection to the African-American spirituals. His talents include an ability to sing in Russian, Chinese, Spanish and German. He also has a particular affection for the Jewish people as evidenced in the "Song from the German Concentration Camp" (On later recordings, Robeson would also cover Yiddish folksongs).

Interesting is also "The Purest Kind of Guy" written by the gay, left-leaning, American composer Marc Blitzstien. The lyrics are enigmatic: is it a tribute to Josef Stalin; to a little boy; or is it a cryptic gay love song?

This all makes for interesting history. The rich bass-baritone voice of Paul Robeson is, of course, always a thing of great beauty. Beware, the sound quality though, it is not very good as the technology of the day was limited."