John Sinclair

Steady Rollin' Man: Live

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From New Orleans, John Sinclair wrote extensive liner notes to this collection of live performances recorded on mini disc by drummer Eric Austin. The sound quality is pretty good, with Sinclair's voice booming out over relentless backing. This is not the MC5. "Monk in Orbit" opens the disc, and the poet writes that this is a shorter version of the epic originally released on his 1997 disc with Wayne Kramer entitled Full Circle. Half of the fun of this CD is reading the liners by Sinclair where he tells of how he came to Boston, and the tour which resulted in this project. He also goes over each of these selections giving his insight. After all, the Minister of Information of the White Panther Party can ramble on! Where most artists create and expect the listener to figure it out, Sinclair figures it out for you, which is a different kind of art. "Hellhound on My Trail" is allegedly an "account in verse of the untimely demise of the great Delta blues singer," and it sounds like borderline revisionist history for blues artist Robert Johnson's last days, rife with the F-word and other choice terms. The minister gets so explicit it no longer seems explicit. The band is adequate, called His Boston Blues Scholars, they stay in the background to enable Sinclair to recite his poetry over the bluesy near psychedelic thump of the group. Drozdowski, also a member of the Devil Gods and former music editor of The Boston Phoenix, gets a chance to explode at the end of "Hellhound on My Train," and he keeps that intensity for what Sinclair calls the "power rock version" of "Louisiana Blues." It is the only thing vaguely resembling a song here. The artist doesn't sing, he preaches. He preaches loud. And though this might not be for everyone, if you can get on his wavelength it can hold your attention. Steady Rollin' Man is a nice document of a political activist with a lot to say...it's just kind of difficult figuring out what he is saying. But it's a good record, and definitely unique.

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