Various Artists

Songs of Protest

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Of course there are too many noteworthy songs of protest to fit onto one collection, even (or especially) if you're limiting yourself to the '60s, as Rhino does on this compilation. Still, it does a good job of mixing monster hits by Barry McGuire, Sonny Bono, Dion, the Kingston Trio, the Temptations, and Edwin Starr with more obscure cuts. Country Joe's "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag" is here, as well as Sonny Bono's self-pitying "Laugh at Me," the pre-electric Donovan cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier," and Manfred Mann's fine, overlooked cover of Dylan's "With God on Our Side." The most hard-to-find songs span the opposite ends of the spectrum. "It's Good News Week," a 1966 hit for the Jonathan King-led group Hedgehoppers Anonymous, is a lightweight catalog of social ills that retains considerable period charm. Far more earnest is Phil Ochs' "I Ain't Marching Anymore," represented here by the non-LP, electric folk-rock version released as a single in 1966. Although it made no commercial impact, it holds up to the best protest anthems of the era, both musically and lyrically.

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