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LEON ROSSELSON - Where Are The Barricades?

LEON ROSSELSON - Where Are The Barricades?
Fuse Records CFCD999

Rounding off 60 years of songwriting, this cornerstone of the left wing of the folk fraternity signs off with a rafter-raising musical compendium of landmark songs brought up to date, and a few tantalizing new numbers. Even if you don’t necessarily buy into his politics, you have to admire his ability to get his message across, boldly going where few others have dared to venture. His targets cover all the bases, from benefit cuts to the blockage of Gaza, via the Falklands and First World War trench warfare. To top it all, he has included a song that basically sums up the daily grind of retirement activities (Active Ageing). I was looking forward to slowing down a bit when I finish the day job – I reckon I’ve just gone off the idea.

In the best tradition of protest singers, pretty much all of the songs are put across with a solitary voice and guitar, and I don’t see how multi-layering these tracks with multiple overdubbed vocals and instruments would improve them. This is intimate and, at times, brutal truth being retold with honesty and integrity. These songs speak to me directly and are a reminder to us all that ethics and principles matter – and somebody has to stand up to the Government and their cronies.

I know he’s said that this is his last album – he is 82 this year – but I hope Leon continues to act as our conscience for many years to come. Heartily recommended listening – and packaged with care with extensive explanatory notes, this is a classic on every level.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.