Love Shouldn't Hurt

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Child abuse is a terrible thing. The National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse (NCPCA) probably does good work to prevent it, and if you were to contribute money to the organization, that probably would be good, too. It's also good to get that out of the way up front, since reviewing benefit albums is a dicey business: the mere music reviewer doesn't want to imply that critical remarks are intended to reflect upon the organization being benefited or the cause being addressed. That said, Love Shouldn't Hurt, a benefit album whose proceeds are earmarked for the NCPCA, is a collection of tendentious, second-rate songs by a group of aging pop-rock stars who range from the has-been to the never-was. In their patented soft-rock style, the likes of Stephen Bishop, Michael Bolton, and Michael McDonald, among others, solemnly preach to the listener about how child abuse is a terrible thing. It's perhaps no surprise that the album was made under the auspices of Quincy Jones's Qwest label, since the title song especially, with its traded-off vocals from a celebrity chorus, recalls "We Are the World," and the artist roster reads like a Hollywood party invitation list. The only tracks that escape being career embarrassments are Earth, Wind & Fire's "That's the Way of the World," which is the vintage hit version, and Kenny Loggins's reading of John Lennon's "Love," neither of which has anything to do with child abuse, which, in case we haven't mentioned it, is a terrible thing. Really.

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