Everything is Terrible
2017-10-12 09:39:00-04:00 in mus

The album is five tracks of avant-garde jazz with vocals by Abbey Lincoln.

Driva Man is a tale of slavery, with a lurching 5/4 blues pattern punctuated by whiplashes. Lincoln's vocals slide somewhere between a spiritual and blues. This is the most melodic track on the album, and the bit that would years later be called the hook is very powerful.

Freedom Day is a song about Emancipation (which even in theory was not quite 100 years old when this album was produced). It is hopeful, but always hesitant: the horns leap after the chorus only to start back immediately into clearly "composed" melodies; Lincoln even makes the last "It is freedom day" a question.

Triptych starts as a call and response between Lincoln's wordless vocals and the percussion. The three "panels" of the triptych are prayer, protest, and peace. The call and response is the first. A drum roll brings us into protest, and a minute and twenty seconds of Lincoln's wordless screams. The kick drum finally comes in with peace, and Lincoln, no longer calling or responding, accompanies them and they her in an out-of-breath attempt at a melodic recasting of "prayer".

All Africa is a downtempo track that features Lincoln singing with Babatunde Olatunji, who also plays drums on this track. She begins with a kind of descant about the beat, and then her singing of the names of African tribal peoples intertwines with his singing in Yoruba. The piece then accelerates into an extended percussion solo by Olatunji, which segues into the final track.

Tears For Johannesburg closes the album. It begins with a wordless dirge sung by Lincoln, which is followed by a hymn by a trumpet and saxophone, all over African drums. This accelerates into a more free form and long form call and response sequence by the horns.