Various Artists - Playing for Change (2009)

Various Artists
playing_for_change.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Playing for Change is producer Mark Johnson's brilliant idea of uniting over 100 musicians across cultures to raise the banner of Bob Marley's rich "one world-one love" philosophy of social change through music, while focusing attention on the music education works of the Playing for Change charity. Within four years, Johnson and his crew traveled across the world to film and record musicians from a great range of backgrounds as they sing and perform several timeless rock/pop standards in their native environments. The magical thing about this set is none of the musicians ever meet face-to-face, except through ProTools. Only on "A Change Is Gonna Come," taped at a street fair in New Orleans, where Grandpa Elliott and Clarence Bekker sing a moving tribute to the Hurricane Katrina victims, do a cluster of musicians unite for the first time on stage.

Playing for Change is producer Mark Johnson's brilliant idea of uniting over 100 musicians across cultures to raise the banner of Bob Marley's rich "one world-one love" philosophy of social change through music, while focusing attention on the music education works of the Playing for Change charity. Within four years, Johnson and his crew traveled across the world to film and record musicians from a great range of backgrounds as they sing and perform several timeless rock/pop standards in their native environments. The magical thing about this set is none of the musicians ever meet face-to-face, except through ProTools. Only on "A Change Is Gonna Come," taped at a street fair in New Orleans, where Grandpa Elliott and Clarence Bekker sing a moving tribute to the Hurricane Katrina victims, do a cluster of musicians unite for the first time on stage. This labor of love is a hybrid of styles, including: acoustic blues, reggae, folk, gospel, R&B and world music whose culmination tugs at the heart with a unifying spirit and carefree compassion. The never-ending, eclectic list of rare instrumental solos and sounds like the pandeiro, banjo, and even India's dilruba and mandola, along with various multi-national choirs, rattle the most familiar melodies. The appealing results provide easy-listening enjoyment for music carnivores. The greatest standout is the spirited "War/No More Trouble," featuring a cameo appearance from Bono with Rocky Dawuni and Bob Marley's original vocal. Other delicious offerings include: Keb Mo's original "Better Man," the sweet "Stand By Me" opener, and the Indian folk song, "Chanda Mama," which gets a New Orleans bluesy-zydeco rhythmic treatment. While not necessarily essential, it's definitely a solid work in the tradition of USA for Africa's We Are the World. Notable songs: "War/No More Trouble," "Better Man," "One Love," "A Change Is Gonna Come" Vocals: 2.5 stars   Lyrics: 3.5 stars   Music: 3 stars    Production: 3 stars   SoulTracks Call: Recommended

By J. Matthew Cobb

 

Leave a comment!