Tributes, compilations, CDs and celebrations | AspenTimes.com

Tributes, compilations, CDs and celebrations

Stewart OksenhornAspen, CO Colorado

Ben Harper contributes to two recent compilations: Instant Karma, a fundraiser to end violence in Darfur, featuring the songs of John Lennon, and Goin Home, a tribute to Fats Domino. (Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen Times)

Tribute CDs have become the ultimate multipurpose tool in the recording industry. Want to raise money for a good cause? Shower attention on an overlooked talent? Give exposure to an up-and-coming artist? Give the fans a little taste of someone who may not have an album of his own coming out anytime soon? The tribute CD can answer all those problems.Here is a look at a selection of recent collections.Im Not There(Columbia)What it is: A two-CD soundtrack to Todd Haynes film Im Not There, with virtually all new recordings. The structurally loose, artistically ambitious Dylan biopic it features six actors, including Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere as Dylanesque characters is due for national release Nov. 21.Who it has: Mostly musicians from the arty, alternative edges Yo La Tengo, Calexico, Antony & the Johnsons, and former Pavement leader Stephen Malkmus, who gets three songs with a smattering of Dylan contemporaries Willie Nelson, Roger McGuinn and Ramblin Jack Elliott. Dylan completists take note: The closing track is the title track, a rarity from Dylan & the Band.How it sounds: All sorts of takes, mostly contemporary and on the mellow side, on the Dylan songbook, with emphasis on acoustic guitar and piano.Highlights: Cat Powers rollicking Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again; Sufjan Stevens delicate Ring Them Bells.Goin Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino(Vanguard)What it is: A two-CD tribute to New Orleans pianist Fats Domino, and a fundraising project for New Orleans devastated Lower 9th Ward, and the Tipitinas Foundation, which is restoring Louisianas musical culture.Who it has: A-list superstars, from John Lennon, Neil Young and Elton John to Nora Jones. Joss Stone and Lenny Kravitz, plus a nice serving of New Orleans finest (Dr. John, Art Neville, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Galactic).How it sounds: Takes on Dominos early, boogie-woogie rock n roll, spiced with elements of funk, reggae and blues.Highlights: John Lennon tearing through Aint That a Shame; Ben Harpers Jamaican twist on Be My Guest, with the Skatalites.Sowing the Seeds: The 10th Anniversary(Appleseed)What it is: A two-CD celebration of the first decade of Pennsylvanias folk-oriented, socially conscious Appleseed label.Who it has: Left-leaning singers known for their social/political involvement: Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Ani DiFranco, Jackson Browne, Steve Earle.How it sounds: Like a Greenwich Village coffeehouse, circa 1962.Highlights: Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen teaming on a new recording of Springsteens Ghost of Tom Joad; David Brombergs warm Try Me One More Time; the old-school, anti-war song Bring Them Home, with Seeger, DiFranco, Billy Bragg and Steve Earle.Endless Highway: The Music of the Band(429 Records)What it is: A tribute to that endlessly influential group, the Band.Who it has: Jammers (Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler, the Allman Brothers) plus roots singer-songwriters (Jackie Greene, Rosanne Cash, Steve Reynolds).How it sounds: Respectful versions of the classics.Highlights: My Morning Jackets lovely, powerful It Makes No Difference; Widespread Panics joyous, horn-filled Chest Fever.Lowlight: The Allman Brothers sloppy, uninspired The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.Instant Karma: The Campaign to Save DarfurWhat it is: A two-CD collection of John Lennon songs, to raise funds for Amnesty Internationals effort to end violence in the Darfur region of Sudan.Who it has: Superstars from all ends of the stylistic and age spectrum: Green Day and U2, Aerosmith and Christina Aguilera, plus a few cutting-edge acts like the Flaming Lips, Matisyahu and Black Eyed Peas.How it sounds: Heart-felt, diverse and peaceful.Highlights: R.E.M.s #9 Dream; Youssou NDours low-key Jealous Guy.Judy Kuhn, Serious Playground: The Songs of Laura Nyroproduced by Jeffrey Klitz & Joel Moss(Ghostlight Records)What it is: Broadway actress Judy Kuhns one-woman tribute to late New York singer-songwriter Laura Nyro.How it sounds: A whole lot like Nyro herself, with a touch of cabaret.Highlights: Stoned Soul Picnic, California Shoeshine Boys.Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown(Bloodshot Records)What it is: A mix tape on CD compiled in memory of Mississippi author Larry Brown. Several songs were already recorded; others were written specifically for the project.Who it has: Southern country-blues artists: Robert Earl Keen, Vic Chesnutt, Alejandro Escovedo, North Mississippi Allstars. Brown contributes the final track, Dont Let the Door.How it sounds: Southern, rootsy, tender.Highlights: Tate Moores Mountain in Mississippi; Greg Browns Blue Car.Give US Your Poor(Appleseed Recordings)What it is: A themed collection to raise awareness and funds in the fight against homelessness.Who it has: A mix of well-known roots singers (Bonnie Raitt, Keb Mo), rock stars (Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen), and actors doing spoken word (Danny Glover, Tim Robbins).How it sounds: Folk-bluesy, heart-tugging.Highlights: Jon Bon Jovi & Mighty Sam McLains Show Me the Way; Pete Seeger & Bruce Springsteens Hobos Lullaby.We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song(Verve)What it is: A tribute to the songs popularized by Ella Fitzgerald.Who it has: Women from the pop end of the spectrum Diana Krall, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole plus token guy Michael Bubl. Ella makes an appearance, teaming with Stevie Wonder on You Are the Sunshine of My Life.How it sounds: Nostalgic, somewhat overworked and schmaltzy.Highlights: Queen Latifahs The Lady Is a Tramp; Dream a Little Dream of Me, by Diana Krall and pianist Hank JonesStewart Oksenhorns e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com