Review of Help Fight Hunger & Poverty Album by Bruce Springsteen

Various Artists
Help Fight Hunger & Poverty
The Hard Rock Benefit Album
Album Review

Bruce Springsteen Help Fight Hunger & Poverty Album

Nothing warms the cockles of the heart more on these freezing winter evenings riddled with relentlessly pissing rain than a good-old-fashioned charity CD. The Hard Rock Cafe are the corporate muscle behind the concept, and have kindly stumped up the required capital from their hugely successful high-street restaurant chain to fund a release whose proceeds will go towards tackling hunger and poverty. World Hunger Year are the charity who will receive a share of the proceeds.

There’s some big-hitters on the release, and some thought does appear to have been put into which artists to include and the order of the songs instead of letting the vagaries of current musical fashion trends dictate the running order. The tracklist comprises a mixture of live, acoustic and covers alongside “straightforward” full-band tracks; Bruce Springsteen starts proceedings with a grizzled and harmonica-ladden version of “The Ghost Of Tom Joad”. A rather simpering and wet ballad follows by KT Tunstall next, but circumnavigate this slight obstacle and your treated to a rather vintage bit of Bob Dylan playing “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” from a 1963 performance at the Carnegie Hall.

Elsewhere on the release quality is of a similarly varied standard; The Hold Steady put a good impassioned soulful performance in with “Arms and Hearts” while Joss Stone’s effort contains all the soulful pizzazz of processed dairy lea. Jackson Browne’s performance is a thoughtful and measured acoustic rumination, while Natasha Bedingfield’s “Lay Down” is a better effort than expected.

All in all a mixed bag, but for a charity record a pretty commendable effort; fans of the bigger names on here such as Dylan and Springsteen will probably like a high enough proportion of the other artists and acts featured to make this worthwhile purchase.

Nick Kearns