Observations: A-listers cover a hot topic with another charity record
Friday 10 July 2009
From the shrinking sheep populations of the Scottish archipelago of St Kilda to the diminishing ice sheets of Greenland, the effects of climate change are ever present. And now here's another charity record – Rhythms del Mundo: Classics, released on Monday. It hopes to raise awareness of the threat to our planet, and like a lot of charity records, has attracted a fine pedigree of A-list contributors: the Killers, the Kooks and Editors all step up, combining forces with Cuban collective Rhythms del Mundo to perform Dad-rock classics like "Imagine" (performed by Jack Johnson) and "Satisfaction" (Cat Power) with a twist.
All the proceeds go to the charity behind the project, Artists Project Earth (APE), which raises awareness as well as pumping funds into disaster relief. The Killers perform a Caribbean take on "Hotel California" while Amy Winehouse has found enough time in her gruelling St Lucia timetable to record a cutesy "Cupid" and John Mayer and Fall Out Boy have produced a rhythmic "Beat It", sure to become a must-listen for all those teenagers baffled by the fuss over Jacko's death.
The record's novelty selling point is the collaboration between Cuba and the West. We Europeans love a bit of Buena Vista Social Club hip-wiggling, and predictably many of their number perform here. Rhythms del Mundo's last record under the APE banner saw them team up with Arctic Monkeys, U2 and Coldplay, and it went platinum (so while there are many Cuban musicians who don't get a look in, in charitable terms it is an undisputed success).
Linking the project to climate change is not arbitrary; Cuba was one of the nations hardest hit by 2008's Hurricane Ike. "The impact that hurricanes have in that tiny, culturally significant Caribbean island is getting greater by the year," says the record's producer, Kenny Young. "It appeals to me as a producer to do these old numbers with a twist."
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