I really love those old protest albums, cf. the Don Anderson work I raved over so much, The Eagle Flies (weak as he was from all that ddt we fed him back then-- even the bald eagle came close to extinction). The earnestness was so endearing, but of course, with the Vietnam war it was really a life and death issue for young people, all the more for the millions of bombed to death Southeast Asians. Will those times return one day? Surely they won't be the same, thanks to the vocal and transient inanity of social media, esp. twitter. Will Kardashians one day protest against a new war, with, perhaps, a new color and thickness of eyebrow? Nor is it hard to imagine young people aka millenials today being so spoiled and distracted they would never even react to such an event, ironically, it would be the old generation who would be sounding the alarm in a complete reversal of what transpired in the sixties. But I suppose there would be a kind of symmetry to it as the parents protest & the kids text / instagram their way off into an apocalypse they are not even aware of. FOMO on the end of the world, I suppose, in their words.
The album was released in 1972, I was curious to hear it when I saw Mladen credited on the Some Kind of Changes LP from earlier. You can see he produced some very nice fusion albums over the length of his career. From discogs:
Born December 16, 1923 in Sarajevo / Bosnia - Died December 2, 2015 in Belgrade / Serbia.
He studied at the university for Music in Belgrade for five years. In 1947 he founded Jazz Orkestar Radio-Televizije Beograd, which he conducted till 1953. He moved to Germany where he played for US-soldiers what brought him into contact with Benny Goodman. He started to work for german broadcasting organisations like SDR, HR and NDR. He led some studio orchestras and came to work with Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Egberto Gismonti. He also taught at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern.
Interesting that he lived such a long life (to age 92!), unusual for a musician as we've seen time and time again in the bios of these posts. He must have been quite influenced by his exposure to Americana because this LP, his only solo release, is permeated with the culture, and the second side is entirely dedicated to war-protest themes. Obviously, the first track is a homage to Martin Luther King, Jr. incorporating his speech over a base of composed orchestral fusion with a classical chorus repeating some lines. And the music is quite beautiful. I assume this work is his magnum opus, though already he was 49 years old, and it functions as a kind of oratorio with reflections on the US (the "American War" as Vietnam always called it-- a much more appropriate name). I'm probably not the only one to wonder what went so wrong in American society that more than 50 years after the "I have a Dream" speech and the idealism of the 60s kids, an unmitigated racist could be elected president and black people could be shot by police for opening the door to their own homes.
Masters of War, a Bob Dylan composition and one of those for which the doddering seniors at the Nobel Committee (after they were done sexually harassing their staff) decided he should earn a place along with some of the greatest writers of literature:
Come masters of war
you that build those big guns
you that build those death planes
you that build those big bombs
you that hide behind walls
you that hide behind desks
I just want you to know,
I can see through your masks
You that never done nothin'
but build to destroy
you play with my world
just like it's your little toy
you put a gun in my hands
and you hide from my eyes
and you turn and run farther
than the fastest bullets fly
Notice how brilliantly this author has emphasized the almost childish repetition, as if a child were writing in grade 2 or perhaps even kindergarten some poem to impress his teacher even using the analogy of toys, the overuse of 'big' clearly a turn of phrase or idiom only something a naive child would write in his diminutive state and craftless lack of literary prowess, and marvel at how perfectly this must have impressed those alzheimerly nonagenarians in Stockholm carrying on the promises of the invention of dynamite.
The last track is the song Angelitos Negros, which was done so beautifully by Roberta Flack (here on youtube, as usual). Song's lyrics are a poem from the Venezuelan Andrés Eloy Blanco which is translated online thusly:
Painter, born in my land
with a foreign brush in your hand,
Following in the footsteps,
of all the artists who came before
Though the Virgin may be white,
paint me some little black angels,
for they go to heaven, too
as all good black people do.
Painter of art, if you paint with heart,
Why do you despise this color?
Knowing well that in heaven,
God loves them, too.
Painter of alcoves of saints
if you have a soul in your body,
why is it that when you paint
you always forget the black ones?
Whenever you paint churches,
you fill them with beautiful angels,
but you never remember
to paint a black angel.
And let's hope the new year takes us all in a positive direction, despite all them negatives blowin' in the wind.