Farm Aid, Volume One, Live (Redline Entertainment)

Album review of Farm Aid Volume 1

These are songs from the earth benefitting those who turn the earth, and anyone else lucky enough to play this eclectic collection of soulful music. As Farm Aid recently celebrated its 15th year of raising money, this double CD demonstrates the vibrant musical performances the concerts have spurred. All net proceeds will be donated to Farm Aid.

There's just about every genre represented by these 25 live performances. Want country? How about Trisha Yearwood's "Wrong Side Of Memphis," Martina McBride's "Safe In The Arms Of Love," Dwight Yoakam's "Guitars, Cadillacs," and Johnny Cash's captivating "Folsom Prison Blues."

For blues, there's Bonnie Raitt's rousing version of "Love Letter" and the soulful New Orleans sound of the Neville Brothers howling at a "Yellow Moon." Susan Tedeschi huskily growls "It Hurt So Bad," a hybrid of '50s soul and '90s funk, while Keb' Mo' shines on "Just Like You."

Farm Aid founders Willie, John Mellencamp and Neil Young take their musical bows, too. John jukes on "Rain On The Scarecrow," Willie's appearances include "City Of New Orleans" and Neil gets to the heart of the agrarian problem with "Last Of His Kind" (The Farm Aid Song). As his harmonica wails a sad, subdued lament, Neil sings from the heart: Well, I'd hate to say the farmer was the last of a dying breed/Living off the land/And taking what he needs/Don't see much for the future/When a family can't survive/I need to say the farmer was the last of his kind. Hopefully, with the help of Willie, John and Neil, plus their friends and fans, the plight of the farmer can be turned from tragedy to triumph. That would be music to all our ears!

-- G.W.

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