One of my favorite spoken word records is this 1970 public service disc produced by Western Electric for libraries and schools (an excerpt was featured on the 2003 run of 365 Days). Essentially a long essay on how American society deals with Ebonics, The Dialect of the Black American is fairly radical in its message...and very entertaining in its presentation. That one of America's biggest companies produced such a document is testament to how liberal the country had become. Decades of agitation from Labor, the Civil Rights Movement, and the New Left had brought the country to its most enlightened state since anarchists, socialists, Wobblies, and labor forced FDR into the New Deal. Two years after this record's release, the Conservative Rollback, ushered in by the election of Richard Nixon, had begun, bringing us to the mess we are in today. The thought of Citigroup, Exxon Mobil, or Walmart-Stores producing anything like The Dialect... - either in style or content - is nothing less than absurd.
Message aside, The Dialect of the Black American would be just another spoken word record if not for the presentation. Narrator (I assume) Paul K. Winston has the right voice for this record. His rich tone dashes from Standard American English to Ebonics without pause. The writing is good. And the record is funny. Some of the humor is unintended, I'm sure; however, listen to the end of the last track and you know that the writers were laughing as they came up with it. Top a great record off with a fantastic sleeve and here is one of the best spoken word records ever released.
- Contributed by: Scott Soriano
Album: The Dialect of the Black American
Label: Western Electric