Records: A tribute to bring on the tears

VARIOUS ARTISTS Diana, Princess Of Wales: Tribute (V2 VVR1001052)
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Far be it from me to try to dissuade potential purchasers from buying this charity double-album, but outside of its gestural significance, Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute doesn't seem to offer particularly good value for money. Of its 36 tracks, only a handful were done specifically for the project, with a few others being old tracks re-recorded for the occasion. The vast bulk are old chestnuts from the usual round of AOR artists, a sort of 20 Great Maudlin Favourites that allows you to sit through the cumulative misery of "Tears in Heaven", "Everybody Hurts", "Streets of Philadelphia" and "Don't Dream it's Over" without skipping a track.

Of the new material, Peter Gabriel's "In the Sun" is by far the most impressive, a version of a Joseph Arthur song marked by Gabriel's usual taste and sensitivity. The rest are not quite so rewarding: Bryan Ferry's orchestral version of Shakespeare's "Sonnet No 18" is a nice idea that doesn't quite come off; Sinead O'Connor's version of the hymn "Make me a Channel of your Peace" doesn't stint on the piety; Rod Stewart's "Love Minus Zero - No Limit" marks a new low in Dylan covers; and (the biggest shock of the entire album) Aretha Franklin's "I'll Fly Away" is a bout of ghastly caterwauling quite at odds with her title of Queen of Soul. What was she thinking of?

Compared to War Child's Bosnian benefit album Help!, this seems a lazy and complacent exercise designed primarily to milk the emotionally indulgent. Where War Child required all its participants to record something new on the same day - to do something - Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute is stuffed with donations of old hits long past their sell-by date. (Prospective purchasers are not apprised of this anywhere on the external packaging, which lists only the artists involved, not the songs.)

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