Release Date: Feb 28, 2012
Record label: Light in the Attic Records
Genre(s): R&B, Soul, Poetry, Soul Jazz, Speeches
Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1967-1974 takes its title from the B-side of a 1972 Folkways release -- a half-hour documentation of reactions to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Anyone offended or amused by the title should consider what might prompt the exclamation. The disc was released around the same time as an accompanying 200-page book that is rich with photos, record-sleeve scans, and text.
The music of Black Power turned out to be just as revolutionary as the politics. Just as activists conceived of a society that placed fewer limitations on and granted more liberties to African-Americans, contemporary artists associated with the movement worked toward stylistic freedom unconstrained by genre boundaries. And just as there were various permutations of the Black Power message (from militant nationalism to peaceful dissent), there was no one sound, much less one hit, that defined the cause.
Pat Thomas, the author behind the book Listen Whitey!: The Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 and curator of this soundtrack to that book (spanning 1967-1974), has done a lot of good work for the rest of us. Through extensive research and digging into archives, he has come up with this expansive, wide-open historical document. And that’s really what it is, not an album so much as a varied yet representative cross-section of the voices that rose up as the Black Power Movement began and took hold in America.