George Mann and Julius Margolin: Just A Few Bad Apples (2003)

George Mann and Julius Margolin:  Just A Few Bad Apples (2003)
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Released in March of '03 for our friends and comrades around the world. These guys produced the "Hail to the Thief! Songs for the Bush Years" CD, also on CDBABY. They write and record hard hitting, and also sad, songs of struggles in this world... and the occasional goofy ditty. "Just A Few Bad Apples" was recorded with longtime collaborators Al Podber (multiple stringed instruments and harmonica), Scott Supeck (drums) and Marty Confurius (bass). It features 10 of George and Julius's new songs, a few folk classics ("Come and Go with Me to that Land," "Dark as a Dungeon" and "hard Times Come Again No More"), and one old-fashioned parody about the war-monger running our country. Released 3/03. Political commentary, great arrangements and solid songs. Here's a recent review: Compact Disc Review By John Pietaro JUST A FEW BAD APPLES George Mann and Julius Margolin The pairing of guitarist-vocalist George Mann and long-time Labor singer Julius Margolin has been a lasting one, seeing the duo through several recordings and many performances, not the least of which have been while members of the NYC Labor Chorus. George and Julie, both skilled songwriters of traditional and not-so traditional "folksongs" of social justice, have made themselves available to many rallies, concerts, fundraisers and more. And even when not in the guise of performer, Julie has been seen in the crowd of nearly every rally in the area, wearing a multitude of Labor movement paraphernalia. It is safe to say that these guys are movement fixtures and in the need for full disclosure, they've appeared on the stage of at least one of the May Day concerts in Union Square this reviewer has organized. With the release of their album, "Just A Few Bad Apples," George and Julius continue to explore various issues of social justice. The topics of the song selection encompasses the cry for peace, Labor rights, the battles against inequity and corporate corruption, the struggle for justice in Northern Ireland. Most of the songs are originals, clearly in the tradition but so much a product of the composers' times. Mann's songs seem to be very influenced by the Pop and Rock he surely grew up with; his clean, but aggressive electric guitar solos readily offer up visions of a young George absorbing the music of Todd Rungren and Steely Dan. While all of his songs are melodic, strong vehicles, of considerable note is "Your Money and Your Power", which is reminiscent in style and production of '70s Pop songwriter, Eric Carmen. Very intriguing on an album of radical songs. Julius' songs also belie his age. Stylistically, Julie's songs have more in common with Joe Hill's or Maurice Sugar's than John Lennon's. Somehow, the two manage to find a blend that is at once comfortable and diverse. He even gets a bit of spoken word on this CD, wherein he boldly condemns the Bush administration's entanglement with corporate "book-cooking" and drive toward war. His songs are frank and rather naked in comparison to most of George's, but the continual presence of each other's background vocals, keeps things consistent. Adding to the consistency is a tight, professional-sounding band which sounds just as comfortable in support of either leader. And the guest background vocalists include the latter-day Union Maid, Anne Feeney; the enthusiasm for this project is evident. The album is filled out by several covers that George and Julie have often topically customized to fit the current political climate. These include the rousing traditional, "Come and Go With Me To That Land", Steven Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More", Merle Travis' "Dark As A Dungeon" (dedicated here to the Pennsylvania miners), and their re-working of the old IWW song, "The Boss", here called "Praise Bush". The song's acerbic new lyric, by George Mann, bears excerpting: Praise Bush when morning work bells chime. Praise him for unpaid overtime. Praise him, whose wars we have to fight. Praise him, dumb jerk and parasite. A last, surprise song, not listed in the notes, is a wonderful, topical version of Harold Arlen's song, "If I Only Had A Brain", quite obviously Bush-ified. In closing, the work of these two Labor bards is important and this independent CD release is a statement of our time. Further, the album's cover (by Quenton of rushlimbaughonline.com), depicting the bad apples with the faces of this repugnant presidential administration should be framed and displayed widely. Please check out George and Julie's web-site for ordering info: http://www.georgeandjulius.com (John Pietaro is a NYC topical musician, a cultural organizer and chair of THE CULTURAL WORKERS CONSORT.)