Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1967-1974

The title says it all. Listen, Whitey! (the companion soundtrack to the book from activist and writer Pat Thomas) is a gritty and important look at everything white folk feared during one of the most politically and socially explosive times in America. There’s a diverse cross-section of artists here, too, from Bob Dylan and Gil Scott-Heron to Roy Harper and noteworthy Black Panther house band The Lumpen. Included in the collection are speeches, songs and spoken word that explore the black experience during the late ’60s and early ’70s as Black Power upped the ante of the Civil Rights Movement, and men like Bobby Seale and Huey Newton emerged as revolutionaries. Listen, Whitey! also gets into the history of Motown Records and its short-lived Black Forum label, which from 1970 to 1973 released spoken-word recordings by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael and Elaine Brown (Carmichael’s “Free Huey” and Brown’s “Until We’re Free” are included in the collection). Highlights are The Lumpen’s funky and ramshackle “Free Bobby Now” and the jarring spoken word “Die Nigga!!!” from The Original Last Poets. This is an intriguing and comprehensive collection from a not-so-pretty time in America. And it’s definitely worth revisiting.