In 2004, Franti and his team traveled to the core of the red-zoned, war torn neighborhoods of Baghdad, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip with his guitar, video cameras, and the intent to experience first hand the human cost of war. Out of this journey, he created a compelling documentary ("I Know I'm Not Alone") and a searing, reflective album of original songs. "Yell Fire!" is his most compelling, engaged collection of songs, fired by a fury at the injustice of war, and a rediscovery of the love and community that supports those doing the fighting. It embraces reggae, blues, folk, hip-hop, and the anthemic politics of rock artists like U2 and Springsteen. With massive grooves and soaring choruses, Franti and Spearhead have produced an album to inspire and ignite.
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One thing you know you'll get from Franti and Spearhead is a certain kind of crystal clarity--on the production, musicianship, and, of course, in the righteous political message. Released two years after Franti traveled by himself to war-ravaged Baghdad, Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, each of these songs deals with the human cost of war poignantly and pointedly. The lyrics may seem simplistic when removed from the songs--"Those who start wars never fight them/And those who fight wars never like them" and "The F15 is a homicide bomber"--but very few artists have the honesty and balls that Franti does. Bless him for that. Spearhead might lose credibility with some by tying Peter Tosh's chant to "legalize it" to their call for revolution, but those folks are not in the target demographic, anyway. Those who are will thoroughly dig this. From the jam band accents of "Time to Go Home" to the reggae of "Light Up Ya Lighter" to the U2-ish ballad "I Know I'm Not Alone," it's easily Franti's best album yet. --Mike McGonigal