When Negativity Messes Up Your Mood
Modes and Melodies of Resistance
By RON JACOBS
This review first appeared July 07 / 08, 2007 in the
Weekend Edition of
and was one of two reviews by Mr. Jacobs.
The band Blusion is a blast. Their music is solid dance funk with a tinge of disco and reggae
and their CD titled Sign Of The Times is about changing the world. It uses the same
frustration and anger with the status quo that Vijay's discs do and adds a dance step to it.
Where Iyer's approach is metaphysical, Blusion's is flat out physical. The contrast between the
lyrics and the music is slightly disconcerting if only because one isn't used to hearing dance
tunes that call a pig a pig. One of my favorite spots in the CD occurs midway through the song
"Pirate in a Pinstripe Suit." This involves the band reworks the old folk tune "What do You
do With a Drunken Sailor." They turn the old English tune into an indictment of capital
criminality. And it swings. Some of the music here is Bernsteinesque in its time signature.
Some of it is just plain rock and roll fun.
When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area I used to go to a music festival on the Eel River a
hundred miles or so north of the city. The site is a beautiful slice of California nature.
Trees, water and sunshine--just like a postcard. This is where I imagine myself when I listen
to Blusion. Dancing away the day with hundreds of others. A beer in my hand and sunshine on my
back. A collection of originals and covers, Sign Of The Times takes the anger of a Rage
Against the Machine album and moves it to the woods of Northern California. This transition
can't help but mellow the edges a bit. The bass guitar that is a weapon in the hands of Rage's
Timmy C. becomes a dance master in Paul Dean's hands. The funk emanates from those fat strings
a la Larry Graham in his days with Sly Stone. Dean takes Rob Hart's drums and Kendrick Freeman's
percussion straight to the dance floor. The sharpness of Dave Schrader's horns is not intrusive
but leading and the vocals of Rustie Woods are deceptively entrancing. Greg Schlaepfer's
keyboards melt effortlessly into the mix like a dancer composed of California breeze.
These folks know their audience. There are a good number of politically inspired punk bands and
a fair number of hiphop artists that speak their minds, but there are very few (if any)
political bands in the genre Blusion hails from. As noted before, the music is dance music and
should naturally appeal to those who consider themselves too hip (or hippie) to get involved in
the political world. You know the refrain, why bring yourself down with all that stuff, man?
There's a response to hip apathy on this disc and it's called "Party Song." It's essence can be
found in the chorus: (imagine a good funk disco beat behind this chant)
Get it up, get it on, get it off
Get it in, get it out, get down
Oblivious to everything
Except that party sound
Negativity messes up your mood
Don't worry about a thing
Just let yourself get screwed
That's not self righteous but it's not nice, either. This album proves you can be angry and
active without giving up the dance floor. Emma Goldman once said something to the effect
that she didn't want to be part of any revolution that wouldn't let her dance. I think she
would be glad to know that Blusion is around.
Ron Jacobs is author of
The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground,
which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in
CounterPunch's collection on music, art and sex,
Serpents in the Garden.
His first novel,
Short Order Frame Up,
is published by Mainstay Press.
Ron can be reached at:
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