10 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

A mix of live recordings from 1968's Newport Jazz Festival and New York studio recordings made later that same month, Volunteered Slavery shows Rahsaan Roland Kirk being propelled by the energy of the late '60s toward a moment of ecstatic liberation. The title song epitomizes Kirk’s irrepressible personality. It starts as a funky vamp, while the band chants: “Volunteered slavery has got me on the run/Volunteered slavery has got me havin’ fun.” As the band picks up steam, Kirk hollers over it: “If you wanna know how it is to be free, you got to spend all day in bed with ME!” The song is testament to a musician who refused to believe in boundaries, whether physical, sexual, social, or musical. For perhaps the first time in his career, Kirk was working with a band that could match his swagger. As he says to the Newport audience in his introduction to “One Ton”: “It’s not gonna get any lighter.” This set returns Kirk to the meatiest, dirtiest roots of the blues, while advancing a philosophy of black liberation that (while analogous to his peers) belongs wholly to Kirk.

EDITORS’ NOTES

A mix of live recordings from 1968's Newport Jazz Festival and New York studio recordings made later that same month, Volunteered Slavery shows Rahsaan Roland Kirk being propelled by the energy of the late '60s toward a moment of ecstatic liberation. The title song epitomizes Kirk’s irrepressible personality. It starts as a funky vamp, while the band chants: “Volunteered slavery has got me on the run/Volunteered slavery has got me havin’ fun.” As the band picks up steam, Kirk hollers over it: “If you wanna know how it is to be free, you got to spend all day in bed with ME!” The song is testament to a musician who refused to believe in boundaries, whether physical, sexual, social, or musical. For perhaps the first time in his career, Kirk was working with a band that could match his swagger. As he says to the Newport audience in his introduction to “One Ton”: “It’s not gonna get any lighter.” This set returns Kirk to the meatiest, dirtiest roots of the blues, while advancing a philosophy of black liberation that (while analogous to his peers) belongs wholly to Kirk.

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