Various Artists; West of Memphis; Voices for Justice (Sony)

Lucinda Williams: Joy
Various Artists; West of Memphis; Voices for Justice (Sony)

Celebrity has been debased by reality television, but its power and influence to do good (rather than flog a product or self-serving career) shouldn't be underestimated.

Amy Berg's doco West of Memphis about three US teenagers convicted of triple murder in 93 was made with high-powered support from Sir Peter Jackson (who produced it) and came with the heft of  Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Henry Rollins.

This album collects previously unreleased songs (or live versions) by supportive artists – it opens with Rollins reading a death row letter to him from one of the accused – and a moving soundtrack snippet by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Because a portion of profits go to the West Memphis 3 benefit, it might seem churlish to dismiss Natalie Maines' treatment of Pink Floyd's Mother and some other songs, but Lucinda Williams' excoriating version of Joy is enthralling, Camp Freddy deliver an uplifting Jean Genie, Marilyn Manson offers a menacing You're So Vain, there's understatement on Vedder's Satellite and White Buffalo's House of Pain, Bill Carter's pointed Anything Made of Paper, Depp reading another bleak letter . . .

Not essential, but an album with its heart and profit motive in the right place.

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section

Jack Landy: Lost and Found (independent release)

Jack Landy: Lost and Found (independent release)

If we were allowed to use big words like "peripatetic" here at Elsewhere we'd certainly use it about world traveler, musical itinerant, busker and on-the-road singer-songwriter Landy,... > Read more

Villagers: {Awayland} (EMI)

Villagers: {Awayland} (EMI)

If there was an issue with multi-instrumentalist Conor O'Brien's otherwise excellent 2010 solo debut album Becoming a Jackal (under his nom de disque Villagers) it was that he repeatedly wrote... > Read more

New Elsewhere

ROBERT PLANT CONSIDERED (2014): The sensational space and song shifter

ROBERT PLANT CONSIDERED (2014): The sensational space and song shifter

Exactly 20 years ago Robert Plant finally found a clear path out of the shadow of Led Zeppelin, and ironically it involved embracing the music of his former band. Two years after the end of the... > Read more

Engineers; Always Returning (Kscope/Southbound):

Engineers; Always Returning (Kscope/Southbound):

 Another on the prog label Kscope -- home to Steven Wilson and his band Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, Anathema and others -- and this double disc (songs on one, instrumental versions on t'other)... > Read more