The combination of politics with folk music has become almost a cliché. Folk was foremost among the musical voices that heralded ardent protest against the Vietnam War, conservative values and an oppressive mindset. Some of it was certainly overly preachy and some of it was downright bad; as if any yokel with a guitar and a left leaning ideal could be a folk singer. However sometimes the mix was much more effective, and the results were not only palatable, they were extraordinary.

Pearls Before Swine - Balaklava
Tom Rapp's folk project Pearls Before Swine redefined the idea of a protest record with Balaklava; a mix of melancholy folk and subtle psychedelia. Long considered the band's finest work; the record is not entirely consistent, as it does mix
in a few tangents that stray from Rapp's solid originals. The protest nature of the record is subtle though, surrealist lyrics paint a picture of a disquiet world and the harmful nature of man. Natural sounds mix with standard guitar and lush orchestration giving the record surges of emotion and a great cinematic feel to it. The record has gone on to influence a whole resurgence of psych folk musicians who have used Rapp's formula to great effect.

[MP3] Pearls Before Swine - Images Of April
[MP3] Pearls Before Swine - I Saw The World

Buffy Sainte-Marie - It's My Way!
Buffy Sainte-Marie became a strong voice in folk music as time wore on but her debut record still stands as one of the most direct, focused and scathing condemnations of war and the mistreatment of Native Americans. Though the original
songs, with the exception of a reinterpretation of the traditional "Cripple Creek", were all very topical none of them seemed to stray into the unfortunate territory of whiney protest music. She sang with a conviction that rang from her very soul. Not a word was sung that you didn't think she believed to the very core. With all of folk's resurgences and reinterpretations there should be more mining of such a talent.

[MP3] Buffy Sainte-Marie - Cod'ine
[MP3] Buffy Sainte-Marie - The Universal Soldier

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posted by dissensous at 10:34:00 AM


Anonymous julia said...

thanks for the buffy!

5:44 PM  

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