The Canadian poet Robert Service, is best know for his poem "The Ballad of Yukon Jack"; but his most striking collection of work is contained in the small book of poetry published after the Great War (World War I) ~ "Rhymes of A Red Cross Man".
Service was in the ambulance service during the War and this collection of poems put to music represent the experiences he had while serving in France. Each one of them is evocative of an era, a time that few alive today can understand. Perhaps best illustrated by the film version of "All Quiet On The Western Front" the horrors of trench warfare cannot be described to the young people of today.
Service had a way of talking about situations that in many ways is very much in keeping with late 20th century writing- -the indirectness of "The Man From Athabaska" and the directness of "Jean Desprez" illustrate best the style made more popular by "Yukon Jack" and his poems of the Northwest Territories. "Jean Desprez" was performed in 1971 on the BBC's "Late Night Lineup" in a show that also featured Mick Jagger. We had a copy of the performance, but it was lost.
The album has been a modest underground favorite for many years. It reissue by One Way a few years ago sold out its pressing run.
by Bill Belmont, Berkeley, June 2001
1. Foreword - 4:39
2. The Call - 2:35
3. Young Fellow, My Lad - 3:47
4. The Man From Athabaska - 6:28
5. The Munition Maker - 4:22
6. The Twins - 1:53
7. Jean Desprez - 9:48
8. War Widow - 2:02
9. The March Of The Dead - 6:27
Music composed by Country Joe McDonald,
based on poems written by Robert Service
*Country Joe McDonald - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Footstomping, Harmony Vocal, Tambourine, Organ
Country Joe discography
1965-71 The First Three E.P's
1967 Electric Music For The Mind And Body
1969 Live! Fillmore West
1969 Here We Are Again
1970 CJ Fish
1970 Tonight I'm Singing Just For You
1971 Hold On It's Coming