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VARIOUS ARTISTS "Raise Your Banners" RYB Records RYB2001

The aim of protest song must be to grab the attention of the listener, and that certainly happens at the beginning of this compilation of songs, chosen by Roy Bailey from artists who have appeared at Yorkshire's Festival of Political Song,

The second track, "Haider" by Attila the Stockbroker, apparently tells an alarming tale of the re-emergence of Nazism in Austria. That is one of those far-off countries of which I know nothing, but this song is pushing me to go out and find out more. Perhaps, you say, I ought to have been grabbed from the first song, but despite it being "If they come in the morning" by Band of Hope it is already too familiar from my own record collection to shock as much. The purpose of this collection must be to introduce people to the musicians, and Bailey has put together tracks - all from the artists albums, rather than live at the festival - that should introduce something new for most of us. I was intrigued by Kath Tait, whose "Bollocks I've Got Too many Lovers" advocates passionately a sexual viewpoint which would not find favour with the Sunday tabloids, and Billy Bragg singing "The Internatonale".

There will be titbits for all. For me it was the chance to hear Coope, Boyes and Simpson with something from their Passchaendale Suite, "The Rhyme of No Man's Land", their stablemate Ray Hearne with "Rother Sing a Don Song", and Robb Johnson's "Be Reasonable". There is also material from Frankie Armstrong, Tom Robinson, Alistair Hulett, Tommy Sands, Sandra Kerr, Dick Gaughan, and Leon Rosselson with his manifesto song "It's Just A Song", all at a budget price. Useful as a pocket size record collection for the car as well.

Bob Harragan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 47 of The Living Tradition magazine.