An impressive amalgam of musical stars has banded together to aid the Occupy Wall Street movement through the benefit project Occupy This Album — subtitled “A Compilation of Music By, For and Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street Movement and the 99%.”
The album, set for release this spring, features Crosby & Nash, Yoko Ono, Debbie Harry, Devo, Jackson Browne, Tom Morello, Thievery Corporation, MOGWAI, Third Eye Blind, Ladytron, Our Lady Peace, Immortal Techinque, Rain Phoenix, Thee Oh Sees, Warren Haynes, Yo La Tengo, Lucinda Williams, The Guthrie Family, Toots and the Maytals, Loudon Wainwright III, Matt Pless, Richard Barone, Joseph Arthur, and DJ Logic as well as the creativity of filmmaker Michael Moore.
The Occupy This Album cover art is provided by illustrator Robert Grossman. Producers were Jason Samel, Maegan Hayward, Alex Emanuel and Shirley Mendard. All proceeds from the record will go directly to the Occupy Movement.
Here’s a look back at recent thoughts on some of the featured artists. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
ONE TRACK MIND: WARREN HAYNES AND GOV’T MULE, ‘WORRIED DOWN WITH THE BLUES’ (2011): What more perfect song to include in a benefit for the homeless than “Worried Down With The Blues”? A devastatingly lonesome track originally included on Gov’t Mule’s the first album following bassist Allen Woody’s untimely passing, it mirrored the album’s general tone — something that can only be called mournful anger. If anything, this new live version resonates even more fully as part of Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Volume 4. Eschewing the muscular, grease-trap Southern rawk so long associated with Gov’t Mule, or the Allman Brothers for that matter, “Worried Down With The Blues,” then as now, boasts a serrated blues attitude similar to that put forth by the likes of Buddy Guy or Otis Rush. It’s a city blues, hard and blunt, a song about a dying love — but perfect for a Habitat for Humanity benefit with broader aspirations in that it speaks to anyone who’s desperately missed something.
ONE TRACK MIND: CROSBY AND NASH, ‘LAY ME DOWN” (2004): A few years ago, however, Crosby and Nash recorded their first album as a duo since 1976’s Whistling Down the Wire. The plainly titled Crosby Nash has its shares of ups and downs but even though it’s an overlong 2-disc offering, there’s plenty enough highlights on it to best anything from Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young) since Daylight Again. The song out of that thick new collection which most harkens back to the salad days of the early seventies is the first one. “Lay Me Down” has spiritual-type lyrics about a yearning for rejuvenation (which fits these guys’ style perfectly) and is backed by a beautifully spare arrangement blissfully devoid of the slickness that’s plagued much of their more recent studio recordings. A lightly picked acoustic guitar is the only instrument that’s in the forefront, while the percussion and synth wash stay in background. That leaves those all-world voices to carry the song. The boys are up to the task.
FORGOTTEN SERIES: LUCINDA WILLIAMS – ESSENCE (2001): Williams brings a brave, riveting vulnerability to Essence — and, for me, it’s her masterpiece. Yet you are more apt to find it in the cutout bin at a big-box department store than at the top of most people’s desert-island lists. Perhaps the sensual melancholy of Essence was too personal, maybe it held too much dark intrigue. She takes chances lyrically, and there’s this hard-bitten musical sparseness, notable in the wake of 1998’s more narrative Grammy-winning breakthrough “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.” That very interior complexity, the way even now it keeps revealing new layers, is what keeps me coming back to this record. Pulling in elements of folk, country, blues and rock, but never quite settling, Williams’ music is as intricately absorbing as her storytelling.
ONE TRACK MIND: JACKSON BROWNE ‘HERE COME THOSE TEARS AGAIN, (1976): Through his first three (Jackson Browne, For Everyman and Late For The Sky) are generally regarded as his best, I think there’s a lot to like about Browne’s fourth album, too, The Pretender. One of the cuts from there that got a fair amount of airplay from the album rock stations at the time was “Here Come Those Tears Again,” a single that peaked at #23 in 1977. That might not make it such a “deep” cut, but it remains one of his less prominent hits. The anguish in its lyrics are worn on its sleeve, heck, even in the song’s title. Coming on the heels of the suicide of Browne’s first wife Phyllis Major, this song about fighting an uphill battle against heartache from a lost lover can easily be seen as his grieving the sudden loss of his spouse.
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