Soundbites From The Counter Culture – The Voices Of Free Expression

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It seems almost inconceivable in the current climate, but back in 1990, a major label – Atlantic Records – actually released an entire album of spoken word performances, the central tenet of which was uncensored free speech. Today, when ‘free speech’ is increasingly seen as a dirty word or evidence of alt right leanings, Sound Bites from the Counter Culture is a sobering reminder that once upon a time, this was something that there radicals actually fought to preserve.

Of course, most of the spoken word performances, readings and lectures here are from the radicals of the 1960s, already looked upon with nostalgia by the middle-aged former student rebels and considered neutered by age as far as the establishment went. And the messages here, from the cynically nihilistic to the ragged Sixties ideologies are perhaps not the feast of taboo-shattering concepts and mischief listed on the back cover (admittedly, more a dig at the concerns of the PMRC than an authentic content listing). Still, there’s some fun stuff here, and it does act as a reminder that the counter-culture once stood for something more than telling people what they could or couldn’t say in public spaces or enforcing a narrow ideal of acceptable thought. When this album came out, it was still the government that we thought was the force trying to shut down ideas that it found objectionable and uncomfortable…

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Hunter S. Thompson – Fear and Loathing:

Eugene McCarthy – The Big Three:

Bob Guccione Jr – We Did It:

Abbie Hoffman – Just Say No:

Henry Rollins – The Virtues of Black Sabbath:

Jello Biafra – excerpts from Tales of the Trial:

Timothy Leary – Think for Yourself:

Danny Sugarman – On Jim Morrison:

Jim Carroll – Guitar Voodoo: