Sixpence None The Richer
Jars of Clay
Grits (featuring Jadyn Maria)
IN THE NAME OF LOVE: ARTISTS UNITED FOR AFRICA (2004)
U2 lead singer Bono has long been a believer in rock music's inherent power to bring about change. In early December of 2002, the charismatic front man met with a small group of Christian artists and industry leaders in Nashville to challenge the Christian community to help fight the AIDS epidemic in Africa. As a result, Sparrow Records and Christian relief organization World Vision teamed up to provide long-term health care, AIDS education, and construction materials and labor to the Mwakankomba village in Zambia. A portion of the proceeds from the In the Name of Love project will be used towards these relief efforts.
Featuring covers of 13 U2 songs by Christian artists, the Love project offers much to like. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" from Pillar and "Beautiful Day" from Sanctus Real form an ideal opening volley, outfitting the already rocking originals with just the right grunge and alt-metal flourishes. Audio Adrenaline turns in a likewise stirring rendition of the early MTV staple, "Gloria," that matches, if not surpasses, the urgency and longing of its forerunner. On the softer side of the coin, Michael Tait's soulful yet subdued vocals lose none of the inherent hurt and confusion of Bono's watershed ballad, "One." And the Steve Hindalong-produced "Grace" from Nichole Nordeman is laden with the same sublime beauty that rendered Hindalong's City on a Hill worship album series so groundbreaking.
While the majority of the artists represented, including those mentioned above, adhere fairly faithfully to the songs they're covering, a handful choose to shake up the equation a bit. Sixpence None the Richer deliver the moody, ambient-tinged "Love Is Blindness" as a driving, straight-ahead pop piece with surprisingly gripping results. The members of Jars of Clay go the opposite route, trading the soaring acoustic-driven pop of "All I Want Is You" for a languishing, country-meets-blues aesthetic that works equally well. And Grits' groove-intensive interpretation of "With or Without You" works as an interesting what-if scenario of sorts, showing what the song might have sounded like had it come from Zooropa or Pop rather than The Joshua Tree.
The inclusion of one or two more obscure tracks might have worked as an enticement to casual U2 fans who are probably already familiar with the lion's share of Love's songs. Likewise, diehard followers who own the bulk of the U2 back catalog may feel that the record's overly close observance of its source material offers them little in the way of anything new. In its defense, the tribute pulls equitably from nearly all of U2's studio albums, and thus functions reasonably well as a solid single-disc introduction to the band. And while creating reasonably close facsimiles of the group's compositions is a relatively straightforward undertaking, it is another thing altogether to appropriate the band's underlying spirit and passion within the confines of the three and a half minute pop song. To the credit of those involved, it is a task that the Name of Love project carries out most admirably.
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A small site with very little information on the project, the official site does have sound samples and info on the charity.