Leon Rosselson
Harry's Gone Fishing
Gadfly Records (www.gadflyrecords.com)

cd cover Wry socialist-anarchism, with a sharp historical eye and a taste for good, strong melody. That's the reputation of Leon Rosselson, most widely known for "The World Turned Upside Down," his song about the 17th century English revolutionaries called Diggers, which has been covered by Billy Bragg, Dick Gaughan and others.

This fine CD bolsters that reputation. Rosselson gives us a supplemental Diggers song, "You Noble Diggers All," featuring lyrics by the Diggers own prophet, Gerrard Winstanley. "Stand up now!," the song commands, against lords, gentry, clergy, lawyers and their "law of clubs." Rousing, indeed.

"Child Killers"
This is one of the most thoughtful "folk" albums you are likely to hear. Like Dick Gaughan's great records, it takes some paying-attention to in order to get the full effect. Augmented by Martin Carthy on guitar and a fine, subtle backup group, Rosselson offers touching songs of love and loss ("She Came From Out of Nowhere" and the self-analytical, grateful "Encore").

Rosselson's great strength, of course, is his eye for current history and the unfinished struggle of the poor against vicious attack. "Mercenaries" demonstrates how it is money that drives all soldiers to do what they do, for good, or, all too often, for very grave ill. "Postcards from Cuba" is a long, fascinating meditation on the course of revolution and the ghost of Che, ending with hope despite disillusionment, and the defiant assertion that "Cuba is alive today."

Some listeners may find Rosselson overly-wordy, or too self-conscious. He certainly bares his soul, and his admirable political consciousness, for all to see (and hear). His vocabulary and erudition are daunting; there are no simple songs here. But if you are willing to get in there, take a bite and chew on these songs, you will find them nourishing. It's good stuff for the brain and the soul. - Bill Nevins

Song: "Child Killers"
composed by Leon Rosselson
(c)(p)2000 Rosselsongs and Gadfly Records, used by permission

CD Available at cdroots.com
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