Faith Petric reviews ‘Below the Radar’

Posted Feb 19, 2010

"Below the Radar" CFCD 40

FAITH PETRIC (Feb. 2010):
As the title suggests, the subjects of most of these 13 songs are not among those getting intense public scrutiny. They’re below the radar, focusing on what is of continuous and primary importance to many of us: peace, visions of a more just and loving world, poverty, international relations and more. There are also a couple of great love songs and a definitive paean to the pleasure of people singing together.

First song is the tender Scottish “Road to Dundee”, followed by Tom Paxton’s “How Beautiful Upon the Mountain” (Isiah 52 #7) slightly changing words in the second verse to reflect the English experience. “Anna Mae” and “Palestine” are two of four songs on the CD written or tune adapted by Seattle-based Jim Page. Page’s “Collateral Damage” (adapting Martin Hoffman’s tune used by Woody Guthrie for “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” aka  “Deportee”) is one of the most moving and painful in my experience, saying “Collateral Damage is all we will be.” But you will want to learn and sing it, it’s powerful.

“Friends Like These” from George Papavgeris, may well bring tears to the eyes of attendees at Friday evening song swaps of the San Francisco Folk Music Club or of others who attend regular sing-together gatherings. The chorus asks: “Who needs fame, and who needs fortune, who needs a life of ease? I’m the richest in the country when I’m blessed with friends like these”.

The CD’s final cut, David Ferrard's “Visions of Our Youth”, appropriately encourages both young and old: “in that moment, or so it seemed, we were able to change the world”. Other songs are by Si Kahn, Leon Rosselson Ian Campbell, David Ferrard and trad.

Bailey’s long and illustrious career places him as one of the finest of England’s singers. His work contains the soul of working class ideals and gives a radical alternative to the mainstream music industry. You will play this CD often, learn and sing its songs with friends.