Album review

Dan Bern

Dan Bern's New American Language scored highly in Uncut's 2002 critics' poll and established him as the leading pretender to wear the mantle of Bob. The Swastika EP is arguably even better—five topical songs issued not as a piece of product but because they demand to be heard, just like they used to publish them in Broadside and Sing Out back in the Greenwich Village days. "Talking Al Kida Blues" is the bravest, truest post-September 11 song yet written (if it's the worst disaster on US soil ever, what about the Indians and slavery?). Suffice to say that, had the Twin Towers existed and been destroyed in 1963, you'd like to imagine this is the song Dylan would have written. World Cup contains five acoustic songs in a lighter vein, written during a trip through Europe last summer. The best of them is "My Love Is Not For Sale", a kind of equivalent of Bob's "Boots Of Spanish Leather". Neither EP has anything to do with commerce, marketing or industry. These 10 songs exist simply because they have something to say that we need to hear. What a subversive idea.

Rating: 4 / 10


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Very taken with Africa Express' version of "In C", by Terry Riley, this week. I have a few takes on the piece (50 years old this month, incidentally), the latest being one by Portishead's Adrian Utley from a couple of years back, though I still probably default to what I think is the original...