Vol. 4 in Eugene Chadbourne's series of home-brewed albums of protest songs inspired by U.S. post-9/11 policies, To Prevail or Not to Prevail once again combines brand new solo recordings and long out of print material recorded during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush era. Of the 18 songs included here, seven were recorded in April 2003 in Chadbourne's home studio with the good Doctor alone on banjo and vocals. These tracks feature the highly critical "To Prevail or Not" and "National Propaganda Radio," plus two unexpected covers of rap hits, DMX's "One More Road to Cross" and Jay-Z's "H to the Izzo" (and yes, they are as transmogrified as you can possibly imagine). Seven more tracks come from the album I've Been Everywhere, including the studio versions of two live staples, "The Liar Song" and "Mountain Men," and the self-explanatory "Neurologically Impaired Leaders," a typical Chadbourne-esque political charge -- intelligent critique delivered through brutal verbal assault. The remainder of the set is taken from the 10" EP Oil of Hate. Musically speaking, the new and old songs don't blend well together. The new ones are stark naked (banjo and vocals without the slightest studio artifact), while the pieces from the previous decade feature drummer Murray Reams and bassist Shep the Hep (those were the days of the Chadbourne Baptist Church project) and plenty of tape manipulation and sound collage. But the lyrical content and the political climate take charge of bringing these songs together, as if the Doctor was throwing in our faces proof that history can repeat itself.
AllMusic Review by François Couture