Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Things Have Got To Change!

Things Have Got To Change!
impulse! AS-9212

Recorded 1971

1. Money Blues (parts 1-3)
2. Dr. King, The Peaceful Warrior
3. Things Have Got To Change (parts 1-2)

Archie Shepp had the knack of simultaneously sounding nothing like anything he'd done before, but at the same time sounding totally familiar. So it is with this classic impulse! session from 1971, precursor of the following year's more well known 'Attica Blues'.

The lineup is extensive, being a who's who of the players Shepp had worked with over the previous few years. That might lead you to expect more outside playing, but the emphasis here is much more rhythmic, with a strong soul/R&B flavour. It's the free-jazz album Stevie Wonder would have made in 1971, had he put his mind to it.

The theme is the Blues, of course - it always is in Shepp's music. Oppression, poverty, violence; it's all here, Shepp's socially conscious vision telling it like it is with great passion. Standout track here is the title cut; an extended jam that begins quietly with some early electronica, providing a backdrop to a tune you could hum and a steady increase in intensity, culminating in the choir's mantra "Goddammit! Things Got To Change!". From there the improvisers are unleashed, with Shepp serving up one of his characteristically savage solos, railing against the oppression of his people. Contrast this with the neat and tidy playing of "Dr. King", a duet between Shepp and Cal Massey on rhodes that manages to be tender, yet incisive at the same time, setting the listener up nicely for the main event that follows.

And 'Money Blues' - "I work all day, I don't get paid, Money, Money, Money" - not only the root of all evil but also the root of much misery. Someone pay the man (but make sure he keeps on singing).

Don't just take my word for it - read this review.

1 comment:

Peter MacDonald said...

Do you have I Know About the Life? That one's going to be my next review.