Rock For Choice Benefit Compilation Is Feel Good Album Of The Year

ATN correspondent Carla DeSantis (Publisher of the very fine ROCKRGRL

Magazine) reports: In the year of the once and always controversial Roe v.

Wade decision, where were you? I, for one,

was just beginning my life-long descent into musical

obsession­­especially

music created by female artists in '73. The selection of music at that time

was a rich tapestry (so to speak) of disco, folk, rock and everything in

between. In retrospect, there was much more to the '70s than Saturday

Night Fever." That eclectic mix is

beautifully captured on the new Rock For Choice benefit compilation,

Spirit of '73. The album reminds us of what we love (and what hate)

about the early, pre-punk '70s.

The brainchild of executive producers Joy Ray and Julie Hermelin, Spirit

of '73 took nearly four years

to come to fruition. Despite initial interest from many major female artists

(including a luncheon

with Melissa Etheridge), Joy and Julie heard every excuse in the book from

labels begging off. "You'll never find enough good female bands to fill up a

whole record." And: "The issue is just too hot right

now." Or how about: "I don't want picketers in my parking lot for the next

year."

A deal with 550 Music was inked. A multitude of thematic compilations have

recently flooded the market, but the results in this instance are stellar.

In many cases, the songs contributed to Spirit stretch the musical

boundaries of the artists who appear on

it. It's a treat hearing Babe In Toyland's Lori Barbero breathe life into

the disco

hit "More...More...More". Her lovely vocals conjure up memories of

Christine McVie. Who knew? Spirit's two dance hits (Eve's Plum

cover of Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You" and Ebony Vibe

Everlasting's recreation of Sister Sledge's anthemic "We Are Family")

successfully fuse a '70s groove with '90s soul.

Other highlights include two Joni Mitchell remakes. The always-awesome

Roseanne Cash sings an amazing

version of "River," while Sarah McLachlan's Joni-esque voice soars on "Blue".

Roberta Flack is also well

represented here. Melissa Ferrick's "Feel Like Makin' Love" and Cassandra

Wilson's "Killing Me Softly"

are both delightful tributes to Flack's under-appreciated work.

Spirit doesn't do rock quite as well as disco and easy listening.

Letters To Cleo's "Dreams" rocks harder

than the original Fleetwood Mac version., though I'm not sure this is a good

thing. Joan Jett reprises "Cherry Bomb" - this time with L7. Although L7

are the founders of Rock for Choice, I would have preferred the original

Runaways getting back together for this one.

However Johnette Napolitano's "Dancing Barefoot" is tremendous. The former

singer for Concrete Blonde does Patti Smith proud on "Dancing Barefoot." If

this track is any indication, we can expect a lot from her upcoming album

fronting Pretty & Twisted.

Rounding out the compilation are That Dog (Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the

Oasis"), PET (Olivia Newton-

John's "Have You Never Been Mellow"), Indigo Girls (Ferron's "It Won't Take

Long) and Sophie B.

Hawkins (Robbie Robertson's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down).

Spirit of '73 is the most feel-good record I've heard in a while. And

in the angst-as-art wake of current artists, Nine Inch Nails, Soul Asylum,

Pearl Jam, etc., a little feel-good every now and then feels great.