Various Artists – [Album]

Monday, 17 December 2012

The funny thing about benefit compilation records is that no matter how good they are, they usually end up being pretty disposable when all is said and done. One look at the history of the phenomenon proves it – sure, that Free Tibet album which came out in the Nineties was good for its moment, but who still owns a copy? What about the one which hoped to raise money to stop abuse against women, Home Alive? Or Sweet Relief? The truth is that everyone wants to make a difference but – whether it's because whether the time required to make charity comp with lasting appeal is just too great or because people are just too fickle – making a benefit comp with lasting appeal is virtually impossible. The life expectancy of benefit comps is shockingly short and that brevity is the thing that Live From Nowhere Near You Volume 2 hopes to sidestep – but the exciting thing is that it might actually have a chance to do so; on this comp, a directory or artists ranging from Pearl Jam to Gang Of Four to Bright Eyes to Queens Of The Stone Age to Dandy Warhols to to Decemberists to Viva Voce and further teamed up with an equally enormous group of street musicians to record a set of truly offbeat originals and covers. The proceeds of the compare being donated to Outside In – a homeless and street youth charity/outreach program.

That the charity Nowhere Near You is supporting is a good one is heartening, but the thing which gives this three-disc monster a chance at surviving after the initial rush of PR has receded is the fact that many of the songs are unique enough to stick in anyone's mind. Who could expect a motley crew of musicians like Eddie Vedder, Josh Homme and The Strokes to team up and cover Marvin Gaye's “Mercy Mercy Me,” for example or a lot like Kevin and Anita Robinson of Viva Voce, Corin Tucker of Sleater Kinney and Chris Funk of The Decemberists to do a low-key, contemplative number like “Gone For Good?” No one expects that – not reasonably anyway – which is one of the reasons Nowhere Near You Volume 2 is such a delight; rather than presenting a set of perfectly canny and expected covers or a set of 'fallen-off-the-truck' leftovers, Live From Nowhere Near You presents as a perfectly unique cabinet of curiosities performed in a way that no one who contributed is really comfortable with – but it still works beautifully. The unlikely combination of artist teams and unusual song choices is the norm here, but the results are totally unexpected too; because of all the variables in place, listeners will feel like they've happened upon a great, secret treasure trove of material by artists they know and love, and that feeling registers regularly as one works his way through this set. There's no way to say if that feeling will be enough to keep audiences listening for years but, for right now, it's definitely an interesting idea to hear.



Live From Nowhere Near You Volume 2
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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