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Socialist Review, December 1993

Ewa Barker


Songs of sanity

From Socialist Review, No. 170, December 1993.
Copyright © Socialist Review.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Review Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Bringing the News from Nowhere
Songs by Leon Rosselson
Fuse Records £14.95

Leon Rosselson has been writing songs for more than 30 years. Throughout my revolutionary time of life his songs have been there, part of the struggle.

What is exceptional about Rosselson is the quality of his song writing.

His straightforward ‘protest songs’ are all here. Songs like Palaces of Gold, familiar, but worth remembering afresh, and Coats off for Britain with its roll along chorus which brings back memories of a ‘Manchester against the Missiles’ benefit concert. But these are not the best.

‘A song, after all, is not a statement, a manifesto, a bulletin, a confessional or a message board,’ says Rosselson in the introduction. What I like most about his songs is the way they portray the complexity of the world, which lifts them above the level of manifesto or message board. There’s a life giving tension within each song, between reality and dreams, between defeat and rebellion, between dance and order.

There are 125 songs in the book, and so many shit hot favourites amongst them crowding each other out. I can only mention the very best which are the songs Rosselson has created from the writings of past revolutionary heroes. Abeizer Coppe ‘a ranter till he died’ is resurrected from his sermons.

And finally, The World Turned Upside Down, Rosselson’s famous song about the Diggers, rightly placed as the very last song. Like so many in this book, a sane song about a crazy world.

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