The News that's Fit to Sing pays affectionate tribute to the singer/songwriter albums of the '60s, especially Phil Ochs' All the News that's Fit to Sing. It offers an acoustic broadside of sports, local news, obituaries, birth announcements, editorials, and national and international stories. Produced by Gene Goldsmith (Pat Wictor, Heaven is So High), the CD features many great musicians. Jen Schonwald, of the Angel Band and the angel voice, adds harmonies. Cheryl Prashker, the beating heart of folk music (Jonathan Edwards, Pat Wictor, Full Frontal Folk), supplies percussion. Other fine musicians appear, including Richard Sleigh (Mary Chapin Carpenter) on harmonica and Elliott Levin on sax and flute (Cecil Taylor, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes). The amazing Bill Wolf did the mastering. Graphics whiz Browning Porter created packaging as essential to the project as liner notes were for the records to which this CD pays homage. Rob Lincoln, writing for cdreviewsonline.com, describes the record as a collection of "thoughtful and powerful songs that speak to the past, present & future."
The work of my songwriting heroes gave me truth I could sing along to and news that never grows old. That’s exactly what I’ve tried to do with The News That’s Fit to Sing.
Here's Rob Lincoln's complete review:
David Kleiner's The News That's Fit To Sing
"Thoughtful and powerful songs that speak to the past, present & future"---Rob Lincoln, cdreviewsonline.com
It's a real privilege to be the the first to review this excellent and important CD from Philadelphia area songwriter David Kleiner. Kleiner, whose previous CD, This Human Heart, was a fine collection of original love songs, has outdone himself this time with a beautiful presentation of some outstanding original topical songs all revolving around the theme of a newspaper. Dedicated to Phil Ochs, the title is similar to that folk troubador's classic 60's album, All The News That's Fit To Sing. All of Kleiner's songs on this CD address one or another part of a newspaper, from front page stories to the obituaries and sports pages. Not surprisingly, many deal with war and crime but a few are a bit more lighthearted. Some will make you cry, more often they will make you think and hopefully... act. Phil would be proud. The favorite songs are:
That's Why I Fight- This song rubbed me the wrong way the first time I heard it. But after hearing it again I realized that what I was hearing was nothing less than the truth. But the truth is sometimes not easy to hear when it is not from one's own perspective. What makes this great is this song is not even from the songwriter's perspective. It is from the perspective of the American soldier. He tells his sister, "I don't fight for the president. It's what duty calls me to. I fight for my buddies. I fight for you. I've got a friend on my left and a friend on my right. That's why I fight. That's why I fight." It is a song that makes you think about the nature of war and re-examine your own beliefs. A complex and profound song.
Nine Afghan Children- The first time I heard this I was blown away by the power of the song. And I still am. It is, like everything on this CD, a true song, and like many of the songs on this CD, it is based on specific facts. This one hits home for the songwriter. He does not tell the story of our military's accidental murder of children by preaching, nor is he detached. He relates it to his own two daughters. It reminds us of what is being done in the name of freedom, national interest and supposed self-preservation...and the long term impact.
Jack Hardy's Brother- The lyrics to this song are taken almost verbatim from an interview with the venerable Greenwich Village songwriter Jack Hardy who lost his brother Jeff in the World Trade Center on 9/11. It is a quiet tune with Irish harp, not unlike the musical style of Hardy who loves to write with a celtic flavor. Yet this calm song is devastatingly powerful. It is a song you will never forget.
Rooting For A Loser- Turning to the sports page we have a wonderful baseball song, inspired by the melody of Take Me Out To The Ball Game (but not actually copying it). This one has a bit of humor, though it is still a tad poignant. Anyone from Chicago and Philadelphia should have no problem relating. Let's go Phillies!!
Busted- Kleiner, (whose voice is occassionally reminiscent of Cat Stevens) seems to be channelling Jim Croce on this cut, which is hands down the best vocal performance on the CD. You can almost hear him launching into Bad Bad Leroy Brown after playing this song about a bad guy selling drugs on the street. This is one of a number of songs straight out of the crime pages.
The Anniversary of My Death- This peculiar song inspired by the obituary pages articulates a strange thought that has occurred to me from time to time. As he puts it, "this could be the anniversary of my death...every year we pass the day, but we never know it."
There are lots more fine songs, 15 in fact, but the ones above are my favorites. I believe the first 4 sited are truly exceptional songs. Also another song not mentioned, God Be With Us, is exceptional, but simply not my personal taste. The last two songs on the CD are also memorable: Stand Up For Freedom and Phil Ochs As I Knew Him. The opening cut (title track) has a killer groove enhanced by the great percussion of Cheryl Prashker and nice bass playing by Aaron Goldsmith. All the musicians on this recording are top notch as is the production. The graphic package not only enhances the theme by creating a newspaper from the lyrics but is one of the best CD designs I have seen. Musically, visually and production-wise the execution is flawless, but like the work of Phil Ochs, in the end it all comes down to the lyrics. Phil would definitely like this CD for the lyrical quality as well as its sentiment.