Anybody searching for some political anthems to fire them up during the last week of “decision 08” will find it hard to do better than the work presented by Nadir and his band Distorted Soul on the soul/funk/rock band’s latest effort, Workin’ For the Man. Quite simply, this album is stocked with powerful songs that are at once angry, eloquent, passionate, insightful and very, very good.
Angry, you say? Well, considering where we are as a country at this point in time, it might be a very good time to be angry. I’d say that Nadir wants the listener to get mad when they hear these songs. Mad enough to – I don’t know – vote, or something. The band is literally screaming for the listener to turn this CD up LOUDÂ – loud enough to hear and learn every word.
Mad about the lies that led us into the Iraq war? Well, “Is That What You Wanted?” is the anthem for you. Nadir is assigning blame in this song. The title, which also serves as a hook sung in a percussive and pulsating staccato, serves as a verbal finger of blame. But who exactly is the band blaming with the refrain: Is. That. What. You. Wanted. The band is definitley indicting the usual suspects: Bush, Cheney, the neo-cons,Â Halliburton, whoÂ gave us the Iraq tragedy. They, after all, wanted Iraq.Â However, the band could just as easily be questioning the cowardly press and a public that wasÂ seemed to willing toÂ cedeÂ its right to know in a search for security.Â Nadir is asking us is Abu Gharib what we wanted?Â Are nearly 4,200 dead Americans and tens of thousand of dead Iraqis what we wanted.
The title track is a case of musical harmonic convergence. This is an anthem for every manÂ and woman who despises a job that theyÂ fervently pray they are able to keep. “Workin’ For The Man,” describes the drudgery and fear that has seeped into the national psyche at a time when people have seen their wages stagnate. It captures the anger of men and women asked to train the workers in India and China who will be taking their jobs.
“Guantanamo” is the most poignant cut on this album. The bluesy and mournful beat is a great compliment for the song’s lyrics, in which the singer seeks to summon the courage to speak out against the foreign policy of our government. “The blood that is shed in my name/Is blood on my hands.”
It’s not all serious, however. The record includes a soulful live remake of the Eagles “Life in the Fast Lane” as well solid but not nearly as strong remake of “Sign Your Name.” The soul/funk cover of the Eagles song shows how a master creator at the top of his game can turn a well-know song into his own. “Sign Your Name,” on the other hand is a by the books remake – it’s okay, but nothing to write home about.
However, if “Sign Your Name” qualifies as a miss, it is the execption because Working For the Man is an album of direct hits. This is the kind of record you can play if you want to create a teaching moment to allow you to kick some knowledge to your kids. Working For the Man will also be the perfect record to have on when you get ready to leave your house to go vote on Nov. 4 (or earlier). Highly Recommended.
By Howard Dukes