• Marxman
  • 33 Revolutions per Minute (UK Talkin Loud) 1993  (Talkin Loud/A&M) 1994 

Politics, like most perishables, doesn’t travel particularly well. By the time it crosses an ocean, practically all its flavor disappears, a difficulty that better agit-poppers ameliorate by simply, well, kicking out the jams. This strident UK-based Anglo-Irish-Caribbean hip-hop quartet, however, can muster neither the requisite energy nor the slightest innovation needed to get its arduously wordy missives into gear-a decided detriment when it comes to reaching listeners who could give a toss about the monarchy.

Since we live in an age of diminished expectations, it’s not too surprising Marxman lowers the titular ante from spiritual forefathers Stiff Little Fingers’ mandate for “78 Revolutions a Minute.” Still, the heavy-handedness with which the foursome addresses issues like Northern Irish home rule (“Sad Affair”) and colonialism in general (“Ship Ahoy,” with a cameo by Sinéad O’Connor) negates the moderately interesting trad-folk flourishes that accompany the de rigueur funky drummer beats. And while it’s certainly encouraging to hear rappers actively decry misogyny-as Marxman do on the seething “All About Eve”-it would be even more tenable if the screed were invested with even a whit of that old Hyde Park Speakers Corner soapbox passion. As it stands, The Communist Manifesto offers more succinct ideas, even if you can’t dance to it. (The UK and US editions differ only in the completely redone artwork.)

[Deborah Sprague]