“A Native American prophecy tells that the peoples of the world will unite as Warriors of the Rainbow to save the planet from destruction by greed and careless exploitation. The environmental pressure group Greenpeace was inspired by this to call its flagship Rainbow Warrior. The musicians on this album have donated these recordings to Greenpeace, because they know that the time of the Rainbow Warriors has arrived.”
This compilation was put together by Greenpeace for the primary purpose of funding their campaigns and financing infrastructure. Initially just released in Russia during March 1989 under its original title Breakthrough, this was a landmark record – the first ever pop compilation of western artists released there. Sales on the first day were 500,000 with long queues of buyers outside the main outlet of Moscow’s Melodiya Records, a state company. A dozen of the artists involved travelled for the launch. The proceeds greatly helped with the start-up monies needed to create a Russian branch of Greenpeace.
In June 1989 the album received a worldwide release under the title Rainbow Warriors. This new version contained two additional tracks on the vinyl and cassette (Lou Reed – The Last Great American Whale, Huey Lewis And The News – Small World) with four additional tracks on the CD (Little Steven – Balance, The Silencers – Scottish Rain, Robbie Robertson – Somewhere Down The Crazy River, Hothouse Flowers – Hard Rain). Chief credit must go to Ian Flooks and the staff at his Wasted Talent Artists’ Agency in London who put this together as a donation to Greenpeace. The agency had worked with U2 in the early 1980s and also assisted with booking their tours. Flooks was also a producer of the film Killing Bono. Therefore it’s only fitting that U2 kickstart Rainbow Warriors with a live version of Pride. This dates from 8 November 1987 and was recorded in Denver, also the day of the Enniskillen bombing. It is the same performance that was included on 1988’s Rattle And Hum with one small difference – here we get a brief spoken introduction which says: “For the Reverend Martin Luther King this is Pride (In The Name Of Love).”
For the most part, Rainbow Warriors is a great driving album and a key snapshot of the late ’80s rock scene featuring a decent slice of “alternative” names. Zipping through are the Pretenders with the rock-tingled Middle Of The Road which leads into Belinda Carlisle’s key change game-changer Heaven Is A Place On Earth. You’ll recall that the music video featured children wearing black masks ‘n’ capes and holding illuminated plastic globes. Some scenes were filmed at Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in Valencia, California on the now-defunct Spin Out ride. Save us from tomorrow – World Party’s dark Ship Of Fools sounds eerily prescient now – as Anna B compares it to a time machine “Verse sounds purely ’70s while the chorus is late ’90s / early ’00s even.” Also looking ahead were Eurythmics – When Tomorrow Comes was the lead single for Revenge, a perfectly sculpted tune with the drummer from Blondie a useful add-on.
We go back to 1985 for Bryan Ferry’s ghostly sophisti-pop number Don’t Stop The Dance. Summed up by a fan – “This song has so many elements, themes, and textures. It’s sexy, seductive, sad, cool, reflective, and stylishly noir!” And then the dreamy, almost blue, Love Is The Seventh Wave, sadly not the single remix but you can’t have it all. We stay with reggae on Aswad’s docile Set Them Free. “Ashes, ashes, all fall down.” – not a David Bowie vs Primal Scream mash-up but a dystopian single by The Grateful Dead. Edited down from the lengthy In The Dark album take, Throwing Stones is one of the tracks that saw the veterans find a new audience. Elsewhere Little Steven mourns the disappearing forests on Balance while INXS’s This Time – all melodies, gorgeous harmonies and a wonderful chorus – pulls a savage nostalgic punch. How good it must have been to see them open for The Go-Gos in summer ’84. Here’s to future days: a moody Lay Your Hands On Me, another album version with a heavy hand that just works better than the 7″ mixes.
L.B. time – REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) makes an inevitable appearance. The UK 7″ that lasts for 3:00 exactly. Right around then I saw them play Dublin’s RDS supported by The Go-Betweens on the Green tour. Meanwhile IRS compilation Eponymous was reviewed by the NME in late ’88 under the heading “The Greening of REM.” Next we get another nice-to-have single mix – Huey Lewis & The News’ Small World, a neat combo of jazz and funk with the legendary Stan Getz on sax. More: The Silencers’ atmospheric Scottish Rain that sounds exactly like you’d expect. On here is the lengthy 12″ version. Closing out the first disc are two absolute classic masterpieces. First is Lou Reed’s Last Great American Whale, a powerful and prophetic tale but yet so soothing. +Talking Heads from their most underrated album; City Of Dreams is the closing song on True Stories, a stately procession that pays tribute to those whose dreams small towns were built on. They once sang “I wouldn’t live here if you paid me.” (The Big Country)
CD2 begins with another stadium giant. Simple Minds’ Waterfront is lifted from the extravaganza that was Live In The City Of Light, recorded at The Zenith, Paris in August 1986. Leading on from there is Bryan Adams and the singalong rock of Somebody, yet another single from the ubiquitous Reckless. And then Peter Gabriel’s torrential Red Rain. Opener of So, almost possessed in its darkness and a killer rhythm section. Plus Stewart Copeland playing the hi-hat for the rain-like background sound – requested by Gabriel due to his mastery of the instrument. Another wonderful piano-driven environmental anthem – Bruce Hornsby & The Range – Look Out Any Window, the spacious opening number on Scenes From The Southside. In the same key – and good company – John Farnham’s You’re The Voice + the Big Music of The Waterboys’ The Whole Of The Moon. Taken from the epic and era-defining This Is The Sea (the last to feature Karl Wallinger). “The record on which I achieved all my youthful musical ambitions.” (Mike Scott)
We shift to a more subtle and laidback groove with Basia’s soothing Miles Away and Terence Trent D’Arby’s sublime soul fuel Let’s Go Forward. Then back into the political arena for We Are The People, John Cougar Mellencamp’s stirring rocker. Elsewhere Gladsome, Humour & Blue was the second LP by Martin Stephenson & The Daintees; Wholly Humble Heart is a minimal moody tune that sticks in the mind. Next, another formidable Hothouse Flowers B-side, the ghetto jazz of Hard Rain, which backed up the inferior Feet On The Ground. This eclectic journey continues as Robbie Robertson’s Somewhere Down The Crazy River makes a timely appearance. Nice times on the horizon; summer of 1984 and Sade’s Diamond Life is playing through open windows; I Will Be Your Friend was tucked away on side 2, a fantastic ode to loyalty. The end comes and it’s a melancholic masterpiece or a lullaby for adults, Dire Straits’ Why Worry. This is the 5:22 version that first appeared on vinyl pressings of Brothers In Arms. Four of the five tracks on side one of the LP were edited down compared to their CD and cassette versions due to the playing time limitations of the medium. A beautiful, mellow and relaxed conclusion.
“A soundtrack for survival”
Peter Gabriel – Red Rain
The Grateful Dead – Throwing Stones
World Party – Ship Of Fools
INXS – This Time
Lest we forget
Dire Straits – Why Worry
Some footage from the album launch including the promo video.