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Fuse Records CFCD099

The Anti-Capitalist Roadshow is a collective of singers and songwriters, comprising Frankie Armstrong, Roy Bailey, Robb Johnson, Reem Kelani, Sandra Kerr, Grace Petrie, Leon Rosselson, Janet Russell, Peggy Seeger and Jim Woodland; plus the only known socialist magician, Ian Saville. No, I’m not sure exactly how, but he uses magic tricks to illustrate Marxist theory - if he has a magic wand that makes politicians disappear, I could suggest a few names!

The roadshow is a response to the injustice felt by many to the way in which the Westminster government is imposing an austerity programme that victimises the poor, vulnerable and disabled. The roadshow’s aim is to raise spirits and give hope and heart and a smile or two to those who are angry at this injustice.

This last point is a good one, and this double CD collection mixes a number of styles to get the messages across, including humour, as in Robb’s Why Not? which has a music hall style and chorus, as an ability to laugh in times of adversity is an essential survival tool. Plenty of other approaches are here as well, from reflective to angry, from poignant to joyful statements of solidarity.

Topics cover, amongst others, the plight of would-be benefits claimants, trade unionism, occupation, police, pacifism, arms dealers, migration and the roles of activists in general. Any of these could have a whole album dedicated to them, but this collection gives us lots of timely reminders of just what is going on out there.

In addition to specially written pieces, there are numbers from earlier hard times, and the whole thing is rounded off by Frankie and Leon performing To My Countrymen / Proletarian Lullaby by Berthold Brecht. Although written in the early 1930s, they still speak to us today of themes of deprivation and struggle.

Based on this release, the live event should not be missed.

Gordon Potter


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This album was reviewed in Issue 95 of The Living Tradition magazine.