As the liner notes immediately point out, one half of this collaborative team is better known for his collaborations with lyricist Kurt Weill, yet the German Eisler had a close relationship with Brecht through the Nazi horrors and their eventual exile in the United States. Both men wound up living in East Germany in the '50s. Throughout these various moves, they kept their nose out for political doings that might be fodder for one of their songs. The material collected here is quite devastating, delivering telling comments on a variety of social hypocrisies and tragedies. The name of this label always seemed to be a kind of warning for listeners who wouldn't want lightweight music. This album is typical of the Labor catalog, not only in the high quality of the material, but that it is serious stuff that requires a lot of attention. It is not music for a finger-snapping, beer drinking session. The composer and arranger Heiner Stadler was one of the main forces behind this label, and it released a good deal of his projects. He also is involved in this production, although he backpedals on taking credit, leaving himself out of the list of musicians but identifying himself as an arranger for some of the material in almost the last paragraph of the liner notes by Gregory Sandow. The Stephen Roane Quartet handles most of the music, so, in a sense, some of this material is like the Stadler albums where he serves as arranger for various jazz combos, and the result is that the musical settings are just as challenging and rewarding as the Brecht and Eisler songs and text. Listeners wanting a quick taste should check out the deeply moving "Seven Hollywood Elegies." Vocalist Sylvia Anders does a first-class job.
AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne