Lyrics, it's all in the lyrics. Aptly named, "Heretics & Privateers" is an anthem that speaks to the mass of disenfranchised Americans who would rather step away from the treadmill of cookie cutter conformity and explore life on their own terms. Weaving a tapestry of rock, blues, and folk, John Kay is a lyricist with the uncanny ability to formulate his personal revelations into clear and evocative statements. Thematic throughout the CD, his reflections about our society are as caustic in their sarcasm and bitter truth as they
are ironic and sadly humorous in their realism. ("The Ice Age," "Sleep With One Eye Open," "Ain't That a Shame") He succinctly uncovers the callous face of the American way and becomes the voluntary spokesman for the ordinary hard working people. ("I Will Not Be Denied") Possessing too much of a conscience to sit and watch the fixed losing fight of the masses, he lashes out with his lyrics. His razor wit cuts big government and the huge corporate machine down to size and strips bare their greedy motives, bulldozer mentality and continuous commercial brainwashing . ("Don't Waste My Time," "Endless Commercial")
Owning one of the most distinct voices of rock and roll, John vocalizes his statements with the clear firm voice of reason. He cries out to his wife and child, finding shelter in their love and presence from life's turmoil ("Dodging Bullets") and expresses his genuine heartfelt emotional bond and thankfulness to the women in his life. ("For the Women In My Life")
Far from being resigned to the hopelessness of our society, John has no time for those who would rather feel sorry for themselves than be compassionate towards others. ("To Be Alive") He leaves us with the promise of a helping hand and holds up as an example the few who do the unrecognized acts of mercy and kindness each day. ("The Back Page")
"Heretics and Privateers" is not a CD to be listened too lightly. There are simply way too many poignant observations to be glossed over with just a cursory overview. The deeper you listen to this music, the more it will grow on you. The sound, style and lyrical content of many of the songs fit quite nicely with the earlier works of Steppenwolf. The present day lyrics combined with the resophonic slide guitar on "Don't Waste My Time" and "The Back Page" draws the blues across time and connects our modern social ills with an expressional vehicle of the past, demonstrating once again the power of the blues to convey our deepest feelings. Highlights on the CD include, "I Will Not Be Denied" and "Endless Commercial."
John's voice is strong and powerful, the edge in his voice is perfect for the love, angst, insight, and chastisement he delivers. A meaningful and powerful statement, "Heretics and Privateers" is a forceful social commentary too strong to be ignored.
1660 Lake Drive West
Chanhassen, MN 55317
Phone: 952.361.6302 Fax: 952.361.6936
This review is copyright © 2001 by Stephen T Davidson, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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