Boscoe is a mysterious group—all that’s mainly known about them is that they came to be in the early 1970s black rock scene. Though enigmatic and obscure, listening to their 1973’s self-titled album shows that their obscurity was not for a lack of talent; these eight songs are scorchers that defy classification. Boscoe is the sound of black radical politics expressed in song, through various forms. The seemingly random hints of jazz, soul, R&B, rock, and vocalizing aren’t so random once you consider all are rooted in African-American culture.
To be sure, Boscoe is a rough-sounding, lo-fi affair, giving the songs a gritty underground feel that adds a certain element of intensity to already-intense lyrics about poverty, life in the ghetto, racism, drug abuse, sex, and black pride. It’s not an easy listen, because there are hard truths being preached here. The jaunty funk of “He Keeps You” deals with oppression, but the end of the song resolves that though “I’ve been a slave all my days, i ain’t gonna be a slave to my grave” and that it is “time to shake of the Master’s ways.” “Money Won’t Save You” is a rollicking funk number that preaches reliance on self and community and not be enslaved to the almighty dollar. Album closer “Now And Den,” is an epic jazz-rock freak-out funk revolution clarion call sermon, not for the sake of violence, but for the good of all in society.
The ending chant of “War is the precedent of peace” is the message of the entirety of Boscoe; that a positive change will be the result of the unpleasantness of the forthcoming revolution. It sounds scary—even forty years later, Boscoe is haunting, especially considering how little has changed between then and now. Boscoe is a fascinating document of an era that shouldn’t still exist, but because it does, it’s unintentionally contemporary.
And that’s a damn shame.