Fanfare for the Common Man
kittyfolk1 | Chicago, Illinois United States | 12/31/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have almost all of this artist's works, and I do believe this is my favorite. At ten years old, this topical album remains every bit as relevant as the summer it was released. The one song which relates to a situation in which circumstances have changed is "Know When to Move," about a 3M strike in South Africa in sympathetic protest against a New Jersey plant closing -- at the time an incredibly brave and risky stand for the African workers to take. McCutcheon can be proud to be among the musicians whose spotlight on aparthied helped to bring it down, so the song is all the more meaningful, I believe, in hindsight. That's the point of the "protest song" -- to render itself obsolete!McCutcheon specializes in storytelling, and the songs here are indicative of that talent. Each has a tale to tell of life in the trenches of the workplace, be it a truck driver, fisherman, farmer or post-Soviet plumber. "Ask Any Farmer" begins with the clarion call "Come fill up your glasses and gather all around," and proceeds to detail at furious pace the story of the corporate land grab of the family farm. "Stone by Stone" recalls the fall of Soviet totalitarianism from the perspectives of three everday citizens, yet wraps up the package with a call to Americans to relate to the world around them. The fact that these works were written a decade ago shows the level of McCutcheon's awareness of his times and his source material that was certainly uncommon then and, unfortunately, still is now. Yet the majority of the songs are lyrical and gracefully melodic tributes to those very people. Don't think this is a downer, it's quite the opposite! John McCutcheon's message here is of the dignity and nobility of the manual laborer, and he'll mobilize your activist soul if you have one. So if you do, I heartily recommend you nourish it with this great album!"
Great Labor Songs
Jennifer Madsen | USA | 12/24/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not only is the music on this good but, the message is fantastic. Anyone interested in the working class will love this CD."