As President Obama held a town-hall meeting with workers at a wind turbine factory this week, HuffPo’s Sebastian Copeland asks if an oil spill and earthquake-induced nuclear meltdown will be enough to finally prompt the (real) push for clean energy solutions.
But like famine in Africa, all this was supposed to be resolved by now. The combined talents of REM, PM Dawn and the Soup Dragons were supposed to take care of this, weren’t they?!
In 1994, Hollywood Records produced a Greenpeace benefit album that was recorded using only solar energy. Hence the terrible album cover for “Alternative NRG.”
According to the liner notes (via a Soundgarden fan site), the power for the recording process was produced by a 28-foot aluminum trailer outfitted with a 1,920-watt solar panel array that could produce 110,000 watt-hours when fully charged.
You’ve got to love the idealist egotism of youth and especially youthful rock “stars.” Aww, you thought could solve the energy crisis by releasing an album? That’s nice. Yet, just as in 1994, we need newer, more renewable and efficient energy sources. It’s a need that has only grown. Will you answer the call for Alternative NRG part two, Hollywood Undead?
Greenpeace aside, the concept of this album was good enough. In fact, that might be the only good thing about it. We all know the compilation racket: you draw us in with some unreleased tracks from some interesting acts. Most of it is crap, but there’s always a few tracks that will enable us to impress our friends. Not so here (I disagree EW, REM’s “funky” version of “Drive” is not “electric and vital.”)
Other bad things about Alternative NRG:
So let’s not spend any more time or attention on that waste of 1s and 0s, turning our attention instead to what AllMusic called “the most successful benefit album of 1993.” (Sidebar: the market might be a little too saturated if that’s a distinction that’s up for grabs).
I’m talking of course about the slightly-better-named AIDS benefit album No Alternative. (There’s that word again. Alternative. It’s almost as if marketers were slapping it on anything and everything hoping it would boost sales).
Here’s the track list, which reads like my old ticket stub scrapbook:
Superdeformed – Matthew Sweet
For All to See – Buffalo Tom
Sexual Healing -Soul Asylum
Take a Walk – Urge Overkill
All Your Jeans Were Too Tight – American Music Club
Bitch – Goo Goo Dolls
Unseen Power of the Picket Fence – Pavement
Glynis – The Smashing Pumpkins
Can’t Fight It – Bob Mould
Hold On – Sarah McLachlan
Show Me – Ben Shepherd
Brittle – Straitjacket Fits
Joed Out – Barbara Manning and the San Francisco Seals
Heavy 33 – The Verlaines
Effigy – Uncle Tupelo
It’s the New Style (live) – Beastie Boys and DJ Hurricane
Iris (live) – The Breeders
Burning Spear – Sonic Youth
Hot Nights – Jonathan Richman
Memorial Tribute (live) – Patti Smith
Verse Chorus Verse – (hidden track) – Nirvana
On both quality and quantity, No Alternative gets a resounding thumbs up. I still listen to several of these bands. It features Pavement’s major label debut and Soul Asylum’s best track, which happens to be an Al Green cover. But this isn’t a music blog, so let’s get back to it.
Other bad things about No Alternative:
Just in case you’re still playing along — AIDS? Yep, still a problem too… For the record, I’m pro benefit albums and pro kids-trying-to-make-the-world-a-better-place. Here it’s the “adults” who’ve been screwing around.
And finally, the track that keeps me coming back to No Alternative more than any others. Impress your friends with the best version of one of the best Beastie Boys songs.