I write these words
in 2004 as elections to the European
Parliament are taking place across the
Community. The first edition of this
collection was issued in 1984 on LP
in the dying days of vinyl. It is dedicated
to Pierre Chrétien Degeyter (1848-1932)
composer of ‘The Internationale’. It
comprises songs associated with the
‘workers’ movements in the various countries
that constitute the European Union.
Since the original 1984 issue the contents
have been further augmented (in 2004)
although these latter items are not
clearly denoted. The Socialist Democratic
Party members of the EU Parliament have
taken the songs of the workers to their
collective hearts and issued this disc,
warts and all. There are plenty of warts
in terms of both performance and recording.
However, I guess a critical analysis
of the individual contributions is not
wholly appropriate. What can be said
is that the individual contributions
are all made with brio and vigorous
sincerity. Considering the fraught historical
background to the fight for workers
rights, the majority of the items abound
with melody of a very jolly and outgoing
type. Much of the solo singing is by
untrained voices whilst choir contributions
have, with a couple of exceptions including
the Toscanini Choir (tr. 15), more sincerity
than sharp articulation. However, whilst
avoiding political rhetoric I must note
that Marx and Engels would have us believe
that brotherly sincerity was the gold
on which the working class would flourish.
This disc is recommended
to all Socialist group members of the
European Parliament who should have
a bag of discs readily available for
distribution to the party faithful.
It could also have further use for serious
study by students of sociology or politics.
The 48 page booklet has words of each
song with English translation although
these are not always adjacent.
Robert J Farr