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The Surgens
Fat & Bulbous Records
Reviewed by Cardinal Cox


The Surgens - 'Misadventures Of A Broken Man'
The Surgens - Misadventures of a Broken Man available from

Write Dope on Pnuk part 54

Peterborough-based country/blues band The Surgens have released a second album that evokes a rootsy, sixties revival. However the real reason that I'm reviewing this disc here is their rendition of the poem 'I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night'.

I have half a memory of Joan Baez doing a version of this track on the Woodstock film, but the actual words (a poem by Alfred Hayes) date from the 1930s. It marks the execution of Joe Hill, an immigrant from Sweden, in November 1915. Joe was an active member of the Marxist/syndicalist/anarchist trades union the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies). As a public speaker and poet/songwriter he was a target for the American police force and ended up being tried and convicted of murder on circumstantial evidence. In a telegram he sent his fellow radicals, shortly before his death, he said "Don't mourn - organise".

There was a film, directed by Bo Widerberg, written by Steve Hopkins and Richard Weber, from 1971 about Joe Hill's life. That I found a reference to it in the book '101 Forgotten Films' (by Brian Mills) should tell you how easy it is to get hold of a copy.

Until then, this song in a melancholy set remains to keep Joe Hill's spirit alive.

101 Forgotten Films available from


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