There has been no shortage of albums labeled "important" for one reason or another. But there is little doubt that "The Revolution Starts . . .

There has been no shortage of albums labeled "important" for one reason or another. But there is little doubt that "The Revolution Starts . . . Now" will be viewed as the essential political statement of 2004. Steve Earle's tirade against the Bush administration, supported by a growing chorus of high-profile artists, reaches its zenith with this 11-track skewering of the 43rd president and particularly the war in Iraq. In fine voice and complemented by the tube-amplified tones of the Twangtrust—the production team of Earle and Ray Kennedy—Earle exhorts citizens to take action from the opening title track: "Yeah, the revolution starts now/In your own backyard/In your own hometown." "Home to Houston," an archetypical trucker song, illustrates the hazards encountered by soldiers and civilian contractors alike, while "Rich Man's War" asserts the victimization of the enlisted. Indeed, Earle is angry. "F the CC" is a laundry list of grievances leaving nothing to the imagination. The set closes with a reprise of the title track, emphasizing—as if it were needed—the urgency of his message.—CW