Spirit of 73: Rock for Choice
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Spirit Of '73 ~ Spirit Of 73: Rock For Choice
It's best not to be overly critical of good intentions. Take, for instance, Spirit of '73, a benefit compilation for the music industry's pro-abortion-rights organization, Rock for Choice. The album concept: songs by female or female-led acts of the '70s, the period of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, redone by female or female-led acts of today, with profits going to help pro-choice groups. A neat idea, particularly if you support the cause. Hear Spirit of '73 for what it's worth and you'll surely get a kick out of its more inspired remakes: Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis" done with the wild harmonies and jangly guitars of L.A.'s that dog, and Olivia Newton-John's "Have You Never Been Mellow" given an alterna-reading by Pet. And you'll also appreciate Rosanne Cash's classy performance of Joni Mitchell's "River" and Cassandra Wilson's surprisingly effective take on Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly with His Song." But if you can't restrain your cynicism, you may conclude that most of the songs are pale copies of the originals; that the "'70s segue bits" (like the sound of a hair dryer or a waterbed) sprinkled between songs are incredibly dumb and unauthentic; that the record's politics are well-meaning but naive ("Circulate a petition," it suggests, as if the signatures of a few dozen 16-year-olds will make Newt Gingrich quake); and that, except for tracks like the sisterhood anthem "We Are Family," most of the covers provoke the question "What's the point?"--Roni Sarig
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EBONY VIBE EVERLASTING - WE ARE FAMILY. I have used this song on many dance compilations and slid it onto 70's-themed tapes for unsuspecting party goers. It is dynamite and different that Sister Sludge. Perhaps as good or even better. It is worth the price of addition just for this loopy dance groove. Very tasty.
ROSANNE CASH - RIVER.
Rosanne is generally a class act, and this take on Joni Mitchell's tale of growing up in Eastern Canada, skating winters on the Ottawa Canal, is another great version of this oft covered Canuck chestnut. Sparse and beautiful. Ca$h delivers the goods.
JOHNETTE NAPOLITANO - DANCING BAREFOOT
Patti Smith, U2, they've all taking a stab at this um, but the one-time Concrete Blonde vocalist hits her stride nicely here. Me likes. This side leans more to PSG more say Simple Minds.
CASSANDRA WILSON - KILLING ME SOFTLY WITH HIS SONG
Ms. Wilson may be an acquired taste -she is almost always methodically slow tempoed, lugubrious and, like many jazz-influenced chanteuse, void of direction and pop sense- but Cassandra keeps a keen, laid back focus on one of two Flack salutes on this comp.
SARAH McLAUCHALAN - BLUE
Long before success with ANGEL and LILLITH FAIR, Sarah paints a early ballad, with reserved, if not spectacular results. Good.
MELISSA FERRICK - FEEL LIKE MAKIN'LOVE
Little known Melissa strums acoustic on a tasty flamenco tinged gallop thru another Roberta Flack song.
BABES IN TOYLAND - MORE MORE MORE
Make a nice connection to Andrea True's mid-70's classic. Horns, chunky beat and all. It's a fun ride.
EVE'S PLUM - IF I CAN"T HAVE YOU
As with many of the disco plums plucked for this Rock the Vote CD, EVE's PLUMB tries to inject some rock vibes into another reminder of the glam & snort of the 70's . Yvonne Elliman has nothing to worry about. It may not be plumb good, but it's no lemon.
THAT DOG - MIDNIGHT AT THE OASIS
I've heard worse. How do you like to send your
camel to bed, one hump or two?
JOAN JETT & L7 - CHERRY BOMB
I guess if any one can take a run at Cherry Bomb, JETT and Gurl Group worshipers L7 are up to the challenge. It is ok, I like JETT better elsewhere, and apart from S#@%LIST, nothing has knocked me out by L7. Grant it, as with most things I've sampled by L7, this cut uses amps.
SOPHIE B. HAWKINS - NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN.
Starts off promisingly enough, like a cover of THE BAND, more than JOAN BAEZ, but SOPHIE's vocals warble way off the charts and her band feels like they are auditioning for a Punk'd prank. These guys won't be mistaken for Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, et al. The playing ruins it somewhat for me. Loose and sloppy. SOPHIE B good at times, sensual at others. This is just ordinary, and is listenable except when she shrieks in character during certain parts of the song. Too bad too; like rubbing your hands together to try and stay warm, this one never quite heats up. Mildly disappointing.
LETTERS TO CLEO - DREAMS
This was ok, but not the stuff dreams are made of. Too edgy.
INDIGO GIRLS - IT WON'T TAKE LONG
The usually reliable GIRLS, put me in no Mood Indigo with this long, boring number (clocking in at almost 8 minutes of meandering, in cohesive yammering). This feels like a throw away, if it was meant to be serious, I missed the point. Should have been aorted in the first tri-minutes.
PET - HAVE YOU EVER BEEN MELLOW.
I'd rather hear OLIVIA NEWTON sing this and I was no big fan of hers.
3 stars are about where this CD rates. But the best moments makes it a no-brainer to purchase on the cheap, and at to your dance collection sneak in the wonderful WE ARE FAMILY.
There are some Drop Ins stuffed between the song cycle that are roughly 5 to 30 seconds long and feature sounds of the time. Citizens Band (CB) radio banter, a DJ at a Disco Radio station, roller rink girl-talk, etc. Most of it sounds forced, a few snippets work.
Now the rest of my review will follow.
The entire album consists of covers of the top billboard songs of the decade that Roe v. Wade was past, the 1970's. This album is an effort on the part of Rock for Choice (formed by the Feminist Majority organization and the popular, femme rock band L7 in 1991) a Pro Choice / Pro Woman coalition of progressive female rock bands deciated for continuance of reproductive freedom. Most of the covers are extremely well done (normally I hate covers of oldies because so many of them aren't up to snuff with the originals). The bands that did the covers were mostly well chosen for the songs, exceptional performances include Eve's Plum, Babes in Toyland, Letters to Cleo, Ebony Vibe Everlasting, Johnette Napolitano, Melissa Ferrick and Sophie B. Hawkins. The rest are okay. Honestly, they aren't horrible, but they aren't better than the original or offer some uniqueness of their own merit. And the Sarah McLachlan's "Blue" seems like it was just thrown in there because Lilth Fair was just not cutting it for her that year.
Also, what's majorily annoying about the album is the little "mini clips" they've inserted into random tracks that resemble news or radio or nostalgic flash backs from the 70's. But their subject matter (a Berry White voice, a random chick bouncing around on a water bed, and the sound of a hair drier and hairspray [hey, that's 70's, right?]) isn't entertaining, it's just annoying. Would have been nice if they had actual news broad casts or parts of speeches from 1973 that would have unified the album together for the purpose of why the album was created: to celebrate Roe v. Wade.