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"If not now.....when?"
Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
Member Name: jo1l
Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
Date: 06/08/02, updated on 17/09/04 (435 review reads)
Advantages: A truely wonderful album
Tracy Chapman's debut album was released in 1988 to high critical aclaim. The album is a powerful, emotive album which draws you in slowly till you are finally singing along with her. The album clearly shows that this is one woman who believes passionately in what she is singing about.Her political beliefs are undiluted as she looks at life for the have nots in the great American dream, but before you think you're just going to have left wing dogma thrown in your face this is far from the case, it's done very subtely!
Chapman draws on her experiences of growing up in a working class black neighbourhood in Clevland Ohio and the day to day struggles her mother had raising two children alone. The production focuses on Chapmans lilting but powerful voice and her accoustic guitar, drawing in on her folk singer background
I can remember the first time I came across Tracy Chapman. I was watching the 70th Birthday party celebrations for the still imprisoned Nelson Mandala on TV. It was the usual round of big names singing along with mega loads of equipement and you got the impression that some were there not to celebrate the birthday of Mandala but to celebrate a few more record sales! Suddenly a small diminitive black woman came on stage sat on a stool with her guitar and sang her heart out. You just got the impression this woman was here to play for Mandala and not for personal gain! Her performance was electricfying.I along with 12,000 others went out and bought her album due to this performance! Within weeks the album topped the UK charts
" Talkin' bout a Revolution" - the opening track draws you in. With Chapmans powerful but soft and lilting voice you instantly warm to this woman. This is track telling you that you are not going to be listeining to some nice easy album! With lyrics like "Poor people are gonna rise up. And get their share. Poor people are gonna rise up rise up. And take whats theirs" you
soon realise that this is a woman on a mission! I get images of the 60's equal rights marches when I hear this track. But even for a political song it doesn't sound like one! Maybe I've been listeining to too much Billy Bragg!
"Fast car" - this is prehaps the best known of the track on this album as it was released as a single. It reached the top 10 soon after it's release. Fast car tell the story of a couple looking to escape the life they have of semi poverty and find the so called American dream. Catchy but by know means the best track on this album!
"Across the lines" - this tell of the social divide between blacks and white in America in certain neighbourhoods. A bitter look at how the media always manages to scapegoat the poor. But as I said previously Chapman has a way of drawing you in with her soft but powerful voice that unless you really listein hard to the lyrics you wouldn't really believe this was a so called political song.
"Behind the wall" - this is a very powerful look at domestic violence form the point of view of someone experiencing someone else pain hence the title "Behind the wall". It also explores the police's attitude to case of domestic violence with the poignant line's " the police always come late if they come at all" and " They say they can't interfere with domestic affairs. Between a man and a wife" a powerful song that even now sends shivers up my spine.
"Baby can I hold you?" - this has to be one of my favourite tracks on this album a poignant look at a woman who afer years of being in a relationship just wants a little bit of commitment from her man. You can't help smiling as you listein to the lyrics! The other two "love songs" on the album again play on the commitment idea in "If not now" Chapman asks "if not now when?" "For you" is another p
owerful song about being in love you can't not be touched by this womans need for some commitment! These are not your typical pop loves songs, they are far deeper it's as if Chapman wants you to explore the relationship you have with others
"Mountains o'things" - this tells the tale of someone wanting just a little bit more than what she's got well a whole mountain of things! Her desire for them is in the belief that this will protect her from the harsh realities of life. A subtle look at the haves and have nots in society. You can't help but smile when you hear of this womans desire to own a fur coat "... drag my furs on the ground" just like some film star!
"Why?" - this is prehaps one of the best tracks on this album. Chapman cleverly manages to explore some basic concepts in this very simple but cleverly done song. It is a very simplistic look at society but still gives you food for thought with lines like " why are the missiles called peacekeepers when they're aimed to kill?"
"For my lover" - with a title like this you would expect to find some sweet love song. This is a scary song, looking at love from the point of being obessional and as if it was a crime. You get the impression this is a woman on the brink. On first listeining you get the impression that this woman's lover is the one imprisoned but then you realise it is the woman that is imprisoned both physically and mentally for the love of her man!
Should I ever get round to writing a top 10 album review then this album would definetly have a place in it. Hopefully I have done justice to what is truely a brilliant album.