I recall an LP collections of national anthems many years ago which was merely concert band tracks; it was a big bore for the most part. This new effort is entirely different. Its creators begin their notes talking about America being the sum of its current citizens plus new immigrants, and that the proportion of “Us” to “Them” changes all the time. For nearly all of us, there was a time when “We” were “Them.” This type of thinking stimulated Dial and Roche to create this collection of anthems which are all sung and played by a variety of folk and jazz performers.
The idea that anthems are all just battle songs – “Hooray for Cave 29!” as per Mel Brooks – is not necessarily correct. The lyrics for all the 16 anthems are printed in the note booklet, and some are lovely expressions of pride in their particular country without putting down other countries. The one for Guinea is a call for all Africans to work together to improve their general state, and Jamaica’s anthem has lines such as “Grant true wisdom from above, Justice and Truth be ours forever…” The various tracks were recorded all over the world by authentic peoples of that country, even the ones for places like Tibet and Greenland. Our own anthem – the last track on the disc – sounds pretty torturous to the ordinary singer compared to the other anthems. I think we could use a new one.
The separate video is also a touching documentary on the making of the album, showing the various citizens of the different countries recording the music on their home ground. It reminded me of a short film I did years ago for a possible public TV signoff, of many different, contrasting people each singing one phrase of The Star-Spangled Banner – except that everyone on this CD are perfectly in tune, unlike my effort! This album is a fine example of the best use of the two-disc DualDisc idea!
– John Sunier