Various Artists

Tibetan Freedom Concert

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The Tibetan Freedom Concert was the largest rock charity event of 1997, a two-day event held in June that featured many of the biggest names in rock and rap. Appropriately, it was filmed and recorded with the intention of being released later in the year as a charity record. The triple-disc set, The Tibetan Freedom Concert, is the extraordinary document of that weekend, containing one performance apiece from the 36 artists who appeared at the concert. As expected with any charity album this size, there's a fair amount of filler on the album, as well as a number of missed opportunities -- for instance, Noel Gallagher's solo electric reading of "Cast No Shadow" would have been more affecting on an acoustic, while the Mighty Mighty Bosstones simply sound out of place. Fortunately, these are exceptions to the rule -- there's a lot of wonderful music here, including the Jon Spencer Blues' Explosion's frenetic "Blues Explosion Man," Radiohead's stark, gorgeous "Fake Plastic Trees," Biz Markie's wild medley, Pavement's shambling epic "Type Slowly," Lee Perry's "Heads of Government," Blur's haunting "Beetlebum," Björk performing "Hyper-Ballad" with a string quartet, Rancid saluting Jimmy Cliff with "The Harder They Come," Cibo Matto's "Birthday Cake," Beck's "Asshole," and and the Beastie Boys' raucous "Root Down." These moments were where it was at musically during the weekend, even if there were some other great performances -- part of the fun of this kind of package is to sit down and find the hidden gems, and a set as extensive as Tibetan Freedom Concert certainly has a number of them, which make the album worthwhile. Besides, it's for a very good cause and it's budget-priced, making it something of a bargain.

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