Featuring songs by the iconic John Lennon newly recorded by some of today's biggest as well as emerging music artists, Instant Karma: The Campaign To Save Darfur is the major benefit-album project of the year. The proceeds support Amnesty International and its campaign to focus attention and mobilize activism around the urgent catastrophe in Darfur, Sudan. Buy a CD, save a life.
John Lennon would have turned 67 in 2007. If alive, he could well be at the forefront of bringing peace to Darfur, where more than half a million have died from violence and disease during four years of rebel discord. So to create awareness of the ongoing conflict, Amnesty International (with permission from Yoko Ono) has mined Lennon's solo work and rounded up nearly two dozen current artists to reinterpret the music, which spans the ex-Beatle's entire post-band catalog (plus a pair from while the Fab Four were still in business). As with any attempt to cover Beatles-related music, results are hit and miss, with kudos going to Snow Patrol and the Postal Service for capturing the starkness of "Isolation" and "Grow Old with Me," respectively, Mexican rock band Jaguares for uncovering the fear and fury in "Gimme Some Truth," and (surprise!) Christina Aguilera for nailing the complex composition and mood of "Mother." Other highlights include Jackson Browne's piano-led "Oh My Love," Green Day's louder straight take on "Working Class Hero," and the Black Eyed Peas turning "Power to the People into a gospelly protest. Will resurrecting 30-to-40-year-old messages of peace and love be enough to help end the brutalities in Darfur? That remains to be seen. But selecting John Lennon as the author of those messages will make people listen and, with this collection, may keep them listening. --Scott Holter