Sir Ivan – I AM PEACEMAN
I’ll be honest, I had no idea what I was getting into when I saw the cover of I AM PEACEMAN by Sir Ivan. He’s wearing a yellow jacket and cape, as he floats in front of a giant peace sign in the sunset–I was a little scared, to say the least. But they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so I delved right in and gave it a listen.
I was surprised I hadn’t caught it when I looked at the song titles, but most of these are covers (save a few). These are basically club twists on sixties rock songs that by now are bona fide classics such as, “Imagine” and “Happy Together”, to name a couple. This is definitely a thematic album about love and peace, not so much happiness (but I suppose you need the first two to get the third).
Ivan’s music is heavy on the bright synthesizer sound you’re familiar with on most popular club music, as well as drum programming and electric guitars to give the tracks an edge. The sound is sort of a cross between C+C Music Factory and Haddaway. Instead of acoustic guitar chords playing behind some quiet vocals, you have lush pads from a keyboard.
Lyrically, the original songs were deeply moving works of art that challenged not only the status quo of the time, but also everyone who heard the songs. Bob Dylan’s, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” (written by P.F. Sloan), were anything but lighthearted in content.
Ivan’s strength seems to lie within his producing and arrangement skills but not in his songwriting. Two of the three songs that credit him as writer are more chant-like tunes that are widely known (“Hare Krishna” and “Kumbaya”). The other song, “Peace on Earth” obviously goes with the theme but is lyrically thin in comparison to the covers.
Ivan’s voice is not the greatest to represent these great songs. He doesn’t have a whole lot of range in the pipes. I will say that the adaptations are so radically different from the originals that he definitely made these songs his own without compromising their integrity. My personal favorite cover on here is “Turn, Turn, Turn”.
The album has its flaws and is not for everyone, but the message certainly is. And make no mistake, peace is no cheap sentiment for Ivan. In the CD booklet is a brief but moving bio and reason for his cause, as he talks about his parents and grandparents and a host of other family members that had to suffer in Nazi Germany under Hitler’s regime. You can feel his conviction; it’s in his blood. And to prove it further, all of his album royalties go to The Peaceman Foundation, where the money is distributed to charitable organizations that battle hate crimes and treat post-traumatic stress disorder.