Steve Earle - The Revolution Starts... Now!
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Steve Earle
The Revolution Starts... Now!
Artemis Records (

cd cover Steve Earle doesn't pull punches. With a rebel red star blazing from the front cover of his new CD, The Revolution Starts... Now! and new songs like "Fuck the FCC (and the FBI and the CIA)," Earle calls his shots loud and clear. At a recent Santa Fe concert, fellow anti-Bush antiwar songsmith Kris Kristofferson introduced Earle as "a force of nature," and that's an apt description. Steve Earle has the energy of a hurricane these days, and that wind is blowing hard from the Left!

A country outlaw rocker from way back, Steve Earle has always made his politics clear. He taunted Ronald Reagan as a snake oil salesman back in the '80s on his breakthrough album Copperhead Road and he was on the anti-Vietnam War protest lines as a teenager while he was writing Guitar Town. But the big-time music lifestyle sometimes got in Earle's way. "We used to sing at a protest, then jump in the limo and goof off," he admits. No more. Nowadays, clean and sober and as sharp-witted as the reborn spirit of Woody Guthrie, Earle is taking no prisoners.

"I've got two draft-age sons now," he declares, "I've definitely got a dog in this hunt!" Since catching plenty of conservative talk-radio flak for the razor-edged progressive politics of his last studio album, Jerusalem, Earle has not flinched. If anything, he has turned the heat up on injustice, reaction, imperialism and the Bush Regime in his new songs and in his stage performances, both solo and with his hard-sweat rock and bluegrass band, The Dukes. A longtime foe of the death penalty, Earle wondered aloud from the Santa Fe stage, "If we were not a country that is killing people in our prisons, would we have invaded Iraq for no reason?"

Based in Nashville, deep in the American heartland, Earle stands his ground and takes the fight to the right-wing. He sang and marched with the huge United for Peace and Justice demonstration against Bush policies on August 29 in New York City and a few days earlier he spoke and performed at the Refuse and Resist Courageous Resisters award ceremony at New York University, debuting his great new song, "Rich Man's War."

"Rich Man's War" and most of the other songs on this CD bring the pain and anguish of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and related Bush-imperialist outrages front and center in a very personalized way. Disoriented, dismayed US troops in Asia and desperate freedom fighters in Palestine are linked in Earle's songs not just by immediate despair but also by a form of human faith that somehow, sometime this mess may just turn for the better, if...

That's a big "if," of course, and in his astute story-songs Steve Earle focuses on the possibility of faith, real human faith, not the flaky pie-in-the-sky type, in victory for the oppressed, for the exploited, for the murdered and wrongly-used in this world. For the people.

Steve Earle is singing his rebel heart out for the people these days. It's great music, good words to hear. And, damn, but you can dance to it! Not a dull song on the record. The Revolution Starts . . . Now! is the clearest, most fearless political record and the strongest blast of fresh air to come out of America in years. - Bill Nevins

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