West of Memphis: Voices For Justice
There’s every chance – I should think – that if you buy this album it’s because you’re supporting the cause rather than because of your strong belief that Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks covering Pink Floyd’s Mother and Marilyn Manson covering Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain are songs you’ve always want to hear – together; songs you figure you must own. And own them alongside selections from Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Eddie Vedder and Band of Horses.
It’s an eclectic line-up – but it is all about hearts in the right place; about emotion – and the back cover states clearly that “your purchase of this album will in part directly benefit The West Memphis 3”.
The album opens with Henry Rollins reading a portion of a letter he was sent by one of the West Memphis 3 from jail. It’s underscored by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ documentary soundtrack – another snippet of the original score returns for later in the album.
From there it’s anyone’s guess – really – why these particular artists are offering these particular songs (beyond support for the cause; support for the project) and though there are some themed songs (if you care to read it that way) it’s not always the correct flow nor is it a set of songs I can see myself wanting to listen to often.
It’s always a joy to hear Lucinda Williams sounding unhinged – and this version of Joy has Williams hurling her croaky mania at the microphone. And I like that. But I don’t need to hear Dylan’s Ring Them Bells again – in this context. Nor Camp Freddy covering Jean Genie, nor Tonto’s Giant Nuts (featuring Johnny Depp) singing Little Lion Man. But hey it’s arguably better than the original and – if you want to make the donation to the cause bu buying this soundtrack album you could argue that you’re getting something back for it. And, arguably, you would be right.