Album: Various artists

Like an Atom Bomb, Buzzola
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The Independent Culture

This collection of "Apocalyptic Songs from the Cold War Era" is a social document that does for that period of nuclear paranoia what last year's marvellous A Soldier's Sad Story compilation did for the Vietnam conflict. Naïveté about the consequences of atomic warfare means grave hostages to fortune are offered by songs such as Jackie Doll & His Pickled Peppers' "When They Dropped the Atomic Bomb", which advises that the only thing that will stop the Communists "and their atrocious fun/ Is if General MacArthur drops the atomic bomb." Apart from R&B oddities such as Slim Gaillard's sublime "Atomic Cocktail", the bulk of these tracks derive either from gospel sources, such as The Pilgrim Travellers' "Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb", Spirit of Memphis Quartet's "Atomic Telephone" and Golden Gate Quartet's "Atom and Evil", or from hillbilly and western swing. The most circumspect example comes from The Sons of the Pioneers, whose country talking-blues "Old Man Atom" presciently views atomic power as necessitating world unity: "The answer to it all ain't military datum/ Like who gets there firstest with the mostest atoms/ No, the people of the world must decide their fate/ They gotta get together or disintegrate/ We hold this truth to be self-evident/ That all men may be cremated equal." Pretty sharp for a bunch of rednecks, eh?