USA for Africa

USA for Africa: We Are the World

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In its time, We Are the World was considered the apogee of musical activism, the epitome of the '60s ideal of music working to save the world and change society for the better. The fact that it took an assemblage of the largest stars of the era to do so was seen as a sly comment of the nature of music in the '80s-a mixture of celebrity and ego that resulted in good. Time has since diminished the importance of those sentiments, and of the importance of the song "We Are the World" itself, which was ubiquitous back in 1985 , but has aged badly, mainly due to its excessively slick and treacly production and the presence of artists whose careers haven't survived the end of the decade. Ironically, some of the other songs on the album, originally conceived as afterthoughts, reveal some interesting surprises. Prince's "4 the Tears In Your Eyes" is one of his most underrated songs, and the version here is recorded with his full backing band at the time, the Revolution, as opposed to the solo demo included on the Hits/B-Sides box set, making this a must for Prince fans. Similarly, Bruce Springsteen's moody, atmospheric cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Trapped" is available only on this collection. Tina Turner's contribution, from her mid-80s comeback, sports some dated synthesizers, but contains one of her best vocal performances. The remainder are little more than filler, especially "Tears Are Not Enough," the Canadian all-star equivalent of the title cut (right down to the presence of John Candy, who fills the role of inexplicably present comedian that Dan Aykroyd plays in the U.S. version). A couple of the rarities aside, We Are the World is really more of a period piece, significant more for its context than musical value, and listeners without a vested interest in any of the artists (or the cause) will find it inessential.

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