John McCutcheon’s latest CD ‘Joe Hill’s Last Will’ pays tribute to acclaimed labor activist

John McCutcheon‘Joe Hill’s Last Will’
John McCutcheon (self-released)
4 stars out of 5

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of acclaimed labor activist Joe Hill, who helped galvanize the union movement in the early 20th century with his songs of protest. He was a major influence to acclaimed folkie Woody Guthrie and all those who followed him — including modern troubadour John McCutcheon, who pays tribute to the activist’s life and music with “Joe Hill’ Last Will.”

Print“No one had ever done a fully-realized album of Joe Hill’s music, because I don’t think anyone believed there was enough commercial appeal to warrant it,” McCutcheon explains. “There probably still isn’t. But after 40-plus years of a modest career and 36 albums, I figured I was in a position to give it a go, commercial appeal be damned. It’s important music and he’s an important figure in American history.”

A six-time Grammy nominee best-known for his children’s music, McCutcheon does justice to Hill’s compositions on the 13-track, 42-minute platter. Among the highlights here are “Casey Jones,” “It’s a Long Way to the Soup Line,” the title track, personal favorite “The Preacher & the Slave,” “The Wooden Shoe/Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay” and “There Is Power in a Union.” Workers of the world unite! (Jeffrey Sisk)

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