Peter Gabriel, Sting, U2, Bruce Springsteen, others – ¡Released!: Human Rights Concerts 1986-98 (2013)

The 1980s were marked by benefit extravaganzas, though oftentimes — whatever their noble intentions — they boasted both dubious musical results and unclear benefits. Amnesty International events were different.

Held beginning in 1986 with headliners like Peter Gabriel, Sting, U2, Bruce Springsteen and others, these tours raised awareness of a core mission to help free prisoners of conscience around the world — and it worked. Two were released, for instance, within months of a 1988 tour. Eventually scores of these freed innocents would join the all-star amalgam on stage for renditions of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”

¡Released!: The Human Rights Concerts, a 17-hour, six-DVD/2 CD set released this week by Shout! Factory, explores tours held in ’86, ’88, 1990 and 1998 — as these concerts crossed five continents and were televised to millions more. (Global membership in the Nobel Peace prize-winning Amnesty International had tripled by ’88.) Net proceeds from this new box, which includes more than 12 hours of music alone, benefit the organization. Three of the featured four concert films have never previously been issued in either a video or audio format, and among that whopping five hours of extras are new interviews with Springsteen, U2’s Bono, Sting, Gabriel and the Who’s Peter Townshend.

Other featured performers in 1986 include Lou Reed (who just passed last week), the Police (in their last concert appearances until an unlikely reunion in the 2000s) Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell. The second film, from 1988, also features Tracy Chapman, while the fourth finds Sting joined by Sinead O’Connor, Wynton Marsalis and Jackson Browne in an empotional 1990 concert in Chile after at the end of Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship. A 1998 film finds Springsteen and Gabriel joined by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Radiohead, Alanis Morrissette and others.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso