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Spearhead 

Everyone Deserves Music

Wednesday, Sep 3 2003
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Spearhead's fourth album of beats and socially conscious lyrics manages to accomplish two rare things: Its moments of protest are eloquent without being preachy; and the divergent and elaborate range of styles it attempts neither comes up short nor sounds contrived. A band that has remained a staunch supporter of the Bay Area music scene has also carefully soaked in its current musical pulses. Everyone Deserves Music is the stunning result.

The standout tracks here fall into genres that are somewhat unexpected from a group formerly known for its politicized hip hop. There are a couple of poignant guitar-led ballads ("Never Too Late," "Love Why Did You Go Away?") and some slices of quirky, Latin-tinged funk ("Pray for Grace," "Crazy, Crazy, Crazy"). "Feelin' Free" uses a drum 'n' bass rhythm but strangely also feels reminiscent of the Style Council's more uplifting ska-inflected jams. And the joyous and wonderful "Love Invincible" beats most contemporary house-music producers at their own game and finds Michael Franti's voice pushed to its soul-drenched limits.

The album's most effective political statements are the two versions of "Bomb the World," a boogie built around a simple and yet disturbing thought: "We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can't bomb the world to peace." It seems effective enough the first time around, but then we hear the "Armageddon Version" in which fail-safe reggae artists Sly and Robbie add a wall of menacing guitars to change the overall mood from pacifist frustration to activist intention.

Everyone Deserves Music is surely Spearhead's most musically ambitious and politically challenging album, yet should appeal to an expanded sector of listeners that might not have embraced the group before, proof positive that there's no better way to convey a message than to make the delivery sound good.

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Tamara Palmer

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