You have to admire Marv Hain, for being true to his ideals, and his devotion to a musical form that’s been moribund for nearly 50 years, folk protest songs. His stage name “This Machine” is, I assume, an homage to Woody Guthrie, who wrote “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his guitar. Furthermore, he’s giving this CD away.
Marv can sing, as well, and is as good a folk guitarists as you’re likely to find in these parts. His melodies and simple arrangements are nothing outlandish, but you can hear worse in any random hour on commercial radio. The problem I have with This Machine probably isn’t a problem at all as far as Marv’s concerned, and that is that my appetite for left-wing polemics is extremely limited, even when, or especially when I agree with what he’s saying. When he sings “There’s no W in Peace, there’s no Peace in W,” and then goes on to castigate Bill O’Reilly and Fox News, I’ve no doubt he’s sincere. But I can as easily imagine this song being performed on Saturday Night Live as a parody of the exact thing the song is intended to be.
George W Bush-centered polemics at this point seems almost quaint. It’s only a few months since Obama’s inauguration, and Barack’s already losing that New-President smell. I don’t know what a generation of rabble rousers are going to do without a proper bête noire. This Machine has become an Ahab with no Whale. I’m sure Marv will adapt, but “Lemming Nation” seems like a time capsule. I’d like to hear Hain channel his righteous anger into protest music more universal and less tied to specific events. And I’d like to hear more crazy shit like “W Is Wrong” which is just Hain’s voice drowned in echo and heavily reverbed drum machine. It reminds me of old school Philly rapper Schooly D, and it’s hoot.