Listen, Whitey! The Sounds Of Black Power 1967-74, album review

 Listen, Whitey! The Sounds Of Black Power 1967-74
Listen, Whitey! The Sounds Of Black Power 1967-74

The release of  Listen, Whitey! The Sounds Of Black Power 1967-74 coincides with the release of a 200 page coffee table book of words and photos.  The album is a wonderfully great collection of rare and essential late 1960’s- early 1970’s African-American protest songs and recordings from the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, Stokely Carmichael, Elaine Brown and The Last Poets alongside tracks from white protest singer-songwriters including Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Roy Harper.

Over a five year period archivist Pat Thomas befriended key leaders of the seminal Black Power Movement, researched Huey Newton’s archives at Stanford University, spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on eBay, and talked to rank and file Black Panther Party members, uncovering dozens of obscure albums, singles, and tapes.

Along the way, he began to piece together a time period (1967-1974) when revolutionaries were seen as pop culture icons: Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael – and musicians were seen as revolutionaries; Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, Bob Dylan, John Lennon and others. As a result, Thomas wrote a 70,000-word hardcover book entitled Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power which also includes some 200 full color images of obscure recordings that encompass rock, soul, jazz, comedy, poetry, and even religious sermons blended with Black Nationalism.

Light In The Attic Records presents the companion ‘soundtrack’ to the book, For the time first ever, Black and White artists share space on a definitive anthology of the Black Power era.  A cross-cultural overview that sees Bob Dylan’s out of print 1971 single George Jackson reissued for the first time along with several selections from Motown’s long forgotten ‘Black Forum’ label – Motown’s early 1970’s Black Power militant imprint that has never been documented until now with provocative recordings from SNCC spokesman Stokely Carmichael, outspoken African-American poet Amiri Baraka, and Black Panther Party singer/songwriter Elaine Brown.

Despite their common goal of freedom and respect, many of these activists didn’t necessarily speak for or to each other. Eldridge Cleaver was living in exile in Algiers in 1970 when LSD guru Timothy Leary showed up seeking asylum. Weeks later, Leary was placed under ‘house arrest’ by Cleaver and that moment is presented here. The Last Poets quickly splintered into several factions not long after their debut and several recordings capture that tumultuous period.

Comedian Dick Gregory was as into mocking the establishment as he was trying to make people laugh and his monologue reflects a time when ‘entertainment’ needed to be political to be relevant.

There were regional private press 7″ singles from the likes of the Shahid Quintet, and the Black Panther’s own band The Lumpen. Gene McDanielsOutlaw album has long been a cult favourite, and is represented by a 1970 live version of Silent Majority.

No Black Power anthology would be complete without Gil Scott-Heron featured on a rare 1970’s solo piano take of Winter in America. The international significance of the times is reflected with a live 1969 recording of English folk singer Roy Harper’s I Hate The White Man.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVNSQpaVBBU

Listen, Whitey! The Sounds Of Black Power 1967-74 – tracklisting:

Invitation To Black Power (Parts 1 & 2) – Shahid Quintet
Free Huey – Stokely Carmichael
Silent Majority (Live At Newport) – Eddie Harris & Gene McDaniels
Until We’re Free – Elaine Brown
George Jackson (Acoustic Version) – Bob Dylan
Dem Niggers Ain’t Playing – The Watts Prophets
Woman Of The Ghetto (Live at Montreux) – Marlena Shaw
Black Power – Dick Gregory
I Ain’t Black – Kain
I Hate The White Man – Roy Harper
Winter In America (Solo Version) – Gil Scott-Heron
Tim Leary – Eldridge Cleaver
Angela – John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Free Bobby Now – The Lumpen
Die Nigga!!! – The Original Last Poets
Who Will Survive America – Amiri Baraka

Listen, Whitey, The Sounds of Black Power 1967-1974 is out now on Light In the Attic (CD, 2xLP, & Digital Download)

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