'No Boundaries' CD benefits Kosovar refugees
'No Boundaries' CD
has scattered, oddball charm
By Brian Conant
Assuring listeners that they really do care about the world around them, 15 of the '90s' most recognizable rock bands have been gathered on "No Boundaries: Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees," a benefit album with remarkable range and admirable aim.
The material for the record was assembled so quickly that none of the tracks were actually recorded for the album. So "No Boundaries" is a sometimes-confusing, sometimes-delightful hodge-podge of rare and previously unreleased material that is sure to please fans, but also manages to make the album endearing to newcomers, if for nothing else than its scattered, oddball feel.
One of the oddest tracks Pearl Jam's cover of the 1960 Wayne Cochran jukebox classic "Last Kiss," which is already being adored by the mainstream via top 40 radio. This particular track from a fanclub-only vinyl single Vedder and company released in 1998. Fortunately, "No Boundaries" is also home to the B Side of the same single. The less-marketable cover of "Soldier of Love" feels more like the Pearl Jam we know and love.
Joining the Seattle's flannel kings on the record is fan and friend Neil Young, who offers his own often covered and sobering "War of Man." The live track fits the Kosovar cause more than any other track on the album and is the backbone on which the benefit stands.
Also contributing live tracks to the effort are Sarah McLachlan (with "Mary"), Bush (with a carefully orchestrated acoustic "Come Down") and Alanis Morissette's live version of "Baba," which is so guitar-heavy it sounds more like a Korn ballad.
Meanwhile, a remix of Korn's "Freak on a Leash," which tacks on some loops and an extra helping of Jonathan Davis' angst ridden scat to the beloved teen anthem, sounds more like the Crystal Method.
In addition to the live tracks and remixes, several bands with albums just finished or momentarily on the lamb pitch in as well. Jamiroquai's "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" for example, is peeled right off its newest disco-infused album "Synkronized."
Tori Amos offers a quant little ditty of unclear origin in her "Merman," while Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers offer the twangy self-deprecating ballad "Used to Be Lucky." If this track is an indication of what's to come with the Wallflowers' near-completion studio effort, the release is something to look forward to.
Ben Folds Five offers a sugary and super-harmonized throwaway from its latest release in "Leather Jacket" which is as much a 1960s jukebox hit as the Pearl Jam cover, but all credit goes to the Fold.
Euro superband Oasis pitch in a barely finished "Take Me Away" a (surprise) Beatles-esque ballad that shows precious few indications of studio meddling. The track, also from a forthcoming album, is the best thing to be found from the Gallagher brother since they released "What's the Story Morning Glory" almost five years ago.
Unlike a pure studio effort, we can almost forgive any shortcomings these tracks collected by Epic Records may have (though there are few). The aftermath of the conflict in Kosovo is a healing process that has not even really begun, and will not be complete even after we've forgotten even the most memorable singles on this project. Pick it up.