Pete Seeger, American Industrial Ballads

Dave Marsh

By Dave Marsh

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Recorded just as McCarthyism delivered the coup de grace to the American labor movement that had thrived during the Depression and World War II, American Industrial Ballads takes Pete's usual broad view of the theme: "Buffalo Skinners" isn't the story of industrial workers, for instance, and tunes like "The Blind Fiddler" probably originated in the British Isles. But this is a remarkable collection, a journey through North American working class history, from the fight for the eight-hour day in the late 1800s to the fights to organize cotton mills, coal mines, and other crucial industrial sites in the mid-20th century. You don't know most of the songs here. You should.