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on 19 March 2008
Don't let the very negative review put you off: this is a classic soul-jazz album. By no means representative of Archie Shepp's avant garde jazz excursions (presumably the reason for the dissing by said other reviewer), it is a rough hewn pearl of an album, musically and politically, and comes highly, highly recommended. The title tune is a rip-roaring monster, right up there with Art Ensemble Of Chicago's 'Theme De Yo Yo'
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on 14 May 2007
This is a great record!4.5 stars. There's a whole bunch of styles - big band, soul, funk a bit of the jb's and some sly stone thrown in- a bit avant but you can dance to it and sing . Check out the soundbites cause this is a transition record and political ( check out the history) but overall this is just fun to listen to- one of my faves of Archie Shepp along with 'four for trane' and 'mama too tight'. one of his best
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on 28 June 2005
I normally really enjoy Archie Shepp - this album is seriously let down by the vocal tracks and it has to be said they are absolute stinkers. For once inspiration has left to be replaced by 3rd rate jazzy Motown. I wonder if the executives at Impulse were trying to deliver a pop album - to me the results sound puerile and come out more like sub standard "Ironside" TV music.
It is a great pity this has seen the light of day again, all I can say to those who contemplate buying this - DON'T. At least listen to the sample tracks provided by Amazon and let that decide for you - thankfully the vocal tracks are only 30 seconds long!
Instead go for his Live in San Francisco, Fire Music, Magic of Ju Ju or Four for Trane; these are far superior representations of his art and quality music.
Interestingly, I have the double CD set "Attica Blues Band" live concert from the late 1970s which features some of the material from this the original Attica Blues LP - now this is really very enjoyable. It's a pity that is so rare - if you get the chance buy the ABB double cd instead.
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on 1 November 2012
Much of this hasn't stood the test of time. The vocal tracks are mostly dated jazz-funk, and light with it. I've always had a weakness for the title track, however, and Shepp has revisited 'Steam' many times over the years.

The oddest thing about the album is its sentimentality and lack of anger. Recorded in the wake of the Attica prison massacre, when Nelson Rockefeller unleashed trigger-happy cops on prisoners who had occupied their jail (their hostages were also shot down by the 'rescuers'). Sixty nine people, if my memory is right, most of them black, died at the prison. You'd expect someone as politically-aware as Shepp to have made some moving and powerful music out of this horrific mass killing, but the album is a pastiche of styles. There are invocations of black musical heroes. There is a love song and a song to a child, neither of them great. For music that confronts black history with real ambition and emotional force, check out Wadada Leo Smith's epic Ten Freedom Summers.
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