FORMER WALL STREET INSIDER MICHAEL BELKIN AND THE REFUSERS CAPTURE THE FIRE AND FURY OF DEFIANT ROCK N ROLL WITH AN URGENT CALL TO ‘DISOBEY’
I open this review with a question: how far must it go, how much can we endure before we reenact the scene from NETWORK and go to our nearest open window and scream “I’m Mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”?
The terms they use, “Military Intelligence”, “Governmental Justice” and “Religious Right”, all have double meanings, and the upper percent make all the rules and we pay in blood, sweat and tears. in truth, ethics and morality have been, like history, written by the ones that “won”, those with the money and power, what do the people have?
Who will speak for us when we lack the courage or the platform? well, now, we have another voice, one that has no fear in telling it like it is, The Refusers, and they have no issue with slapping us awake with the hand of truth.
If I sound like a revolutionary, good, we should all be revolutionary, at least once a day, and that what keeps us honest, the truth and standing up for what’s right. but not all the screamers of the social injustices are equal minded, some that would be our voices are some of the biggest double talkers, hypocrites, and this is where, again, The Refusers come into play.
In 2016, with Wake Up America, singer-songwriter (and former Wall Street insider) Michael Belkin and his high octane Seattle band The Refusers took a stand against the dumbing down of our country while calling BS on America’s institutional status quo and ridiculous shopping and food addictions.
Did we, as a nation wake up? Hardly. Yet the insanity of the Trump era, coupled with the ongoing social injustices, Congressional gridlock, financial prop-ups and gap between the haves and have nots have fueled Belkin and the Refuser’s incendiary follow-up – an epic call to refuse to accept the messed up way things are, fight back and yes, Disobey.
In Review: Disobey by The Refusers is a “return to your senses” album, in the way of the great revolutionary rockers like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Arlo Guthrie and Richie Havens. this album is a no hidden meanings, straight talk album that may infuriate some , but brings out some interesting questions for us to find the answers to.
Belkin, the band’s founder, songwriter, producer, lead singer and guitarist, muses, “An album called Disobey by a group called The Refusers – you can’t get any more defiant than that, and that is exactly what rock and roll is supposed to be. So we’re all about embodying that classic spirit of defiance that defines rock in any era. A lot has changed since Wake Up America. We thought the world was going to change and populism would rise up with wealth disparity and the influence of big pharma being primary issues. But the action of the banks is more out of control than ever, Trump isn’t delivering what the working class was hoping and he’s filled his cabinet with guys from the swamp he promised to drain. In most countries, secret corruption brings down governments. Here, we’ve made those things legal.”
Belkin’s lyrics are phenomenal in their honesty,he rages against the machine that would take control of “our lives” and keep us in the dark.in the opening track “Playing With Fire,” he points out the oxymorons that define the U.S.: “Freedom is slavery/Ignorance is strength/War is Peace/Big Brother’s Calling/Nation of sheep/Playing with Fire.” this is all evident in his exposing view of “the Controlling Hands” followed by “Eruption” which I feel is a call to arms, not arms as in weapons, but as in self education and making the right choices at the voting polls, in the streets and in our minds.
“Disobey” is again, a call to stand and be counted, to not fear, but to be tall and fight for the power we have let others take from us. On other songs, Belkin and The Refusers rail against Big Pharma (‘Why Do They Lie?”), the fact that we’re “Government Slaves,” economic inequities between the fat cats and the poor falling further behind (“Free The Captives”) and of course, our pathetic addiction to the “Fake News” corporately run media organizations feed us. There is respite and hope, however in “Emancipation” and especially the rollicking “My Baby Loves Rock and Roll,” which playfully knocks rap while asserting the enduring power of rock and roll. all the songs have no hidden agenda, and it is not all “Anti-Trump”, this has been happening for a long time and the change we need is a long time coming. every song is a hit in my book.
“A recent stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 includes the line ‘The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening.’ My songs call attention to all of the collective problems America is having, but I’m an optimist at heart. I am hoping there will someday soon be a positive outcome from all the chaos we are going through.”
While the craziness of these times will make most listeners gravitate towards the provocative messages, The Refusers drive their manifesto with some kick-ass rock and roll that equally commands our attention. The band of top flight musicians includes drummers Sebastian Belkin (Michael’s son) and Brendan Hill from Blues Traveler, bassist Steve Newton, and keyboardists Joe Doria (who contributes a powerhouse B-3 organ solo on “Eruption”) and Nashville based Eric Robert, who has performed with John Oates, Keb’ Mo’ and Lucky Peterson. a group of wicked awesome talent and years of service to “The People”…. Viva La Revolution!