“All the Artists and their Record Companies have donated these tracks to the Earth Love Fund – Rainforest Appeal. By buying this album you too have contributed to projects which will support rainforest communities, help raise awareness, and protect rainforests for future generations.” Earthrise came out in the hectic summer of 1992 and was deemed the Official United Nations Earth Summit Album. The LP sleeve was printed on (naturally) environmentally friendly paper but sounds atrocious. The CD got a few plays that year and is a nice companion to 1985’s Greenpeace and 1989’s Greenpeace Rainbow Warriors. Please note that there is a separate release jointly put out by Rhino, Pyramid Records and the Earth Love Fund that has a different running order and includes Joe Walsh’s Look At Us Now instead of Pink Floyd’s Learning To Fly. The Japanese CD excludes the latter.
We start with U2. At the time of release, The Joshua Tree felt like a record that would gradually reveal its secrets after many listens. 33 years on, I’m still getting more from it – largely thanks to Lanois & Eno’s truly impeccable production. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For has a gospel feel, a real spiritual yearning. The 20th anniversary edition lists contact details for Amnesty International, Greenpeace, The Burma Campaign, DATA, One & Red. “In memory of Greg Carroll 1960-1986.” The Kiwi roadie who the band befriended in 1984. Look at the Live Aid performance of Bad. Carroll hands Bono the mic at 8 minutes 13 seconds. He was killed in a motorbike accident in Dublin on July 3 1986 – taking Bono’s bike to his house on a rainy night, when a car pulled out in front of him. U2 wrote One Tree Hill as a tribute while the sleeve of the LP contains the above dedication.
“They had a confidence, determination, clearly going to the top. Different from anybody else that day. From directing the stage cameras to leaving the stage. Queen were more – look what we have done – and U2 were – look what we’re going to do. One of the rare days the musical time continuum met head on.” (TT1221)
George Harrison guests on Julian Lennon’s Saltwater, a song which raises the key issues of environmental conservation and world poverty. The lyrics juxtapose the many marvels and feats of human civilization with the death of the natural world, constantly emphasising the passing of time — “Time is not a friend, ‘cos friends we’re out of time.” I laughed at it in 1991; now it makes me think. It’s followed by the melancholy strains of the Eurythmics’ Here Comes The Rain Again while Paul McCartney contributes his Flowers In The Dirt tune How Many People? On the same day as the Earthrise album was released – 1 June – Weinerworld issued a compilation VHS tape Earthrise – The Rainforest Video. As Macca hadn’t made a promotional film for this track, scenes of forest destruction were shown. From one to another: next up is Paul Simon’s gorgeous Under African Skies, lifted from the seminal Graceland – a record that was the epitome of modern then and refuses to age.
The familiar: Elton John’s I’m Still Standing and REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) making an inevitable appearance – it’s the album version. And then the centrepiece, Artists Against Nature comprised of Brian May, Carol Decker, Chaka Khan, Chris Thompson, Harold Faltermeyer, Heidi Stern, Herbie Hancock, Ian Anderson, Joe Cocker, Maggie Reilly, Michael McDonald, Richard Page, Sandra Ann Lauer, Stefan Zauner, Stevie Lange & Tommy Johnson. Yes We Can originally came out in 1989 but was rebranded in 1992 as Earthrise – The Rainforest Single – Yes We Can. A bombastic slice of likeable schlock. It’s followed by Pink Floyd’s Learning To Fly, a track that describes Dave Gilmour’s thoughts on flying. It has also been interpreted as a metaphor for starting a new career, experiencing a radical change in life i.e. like being the new leader of Pink Floyd.
Sting’s Fragile was the fourth single from Nothing Like The Sun, just reaching #70 in the UK charts. The song is a tribute to Ben Linder, an American civil engineer who was killed by the Contras in 1987 while working on a hydroelectric project in Nicaragua. “I felt the cycle had reached its apex. I felt the world changing & I felt profound things happening.” said Seal about Crazy, a song inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Meanwhile the sublime duet of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush – Don’t Give Up – slips in next, with lyrics about a man whose unemployment causes stress in his domestic relationship. The verses, sung by Gabriel, describe the man’s feelings of isolation, loneliness and despair; the choruses, sung by Bush, offer words of hope and encouragement. Back In The Life was Steve Winwood’s fourth solo album, one where every track was between five and six minutes in duration. Wake Me Up On Judgment Day is the selection here, a true candidate for the end of the world playlist.
I’ve said before that Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms is a good album marred by Walk Of Life. My view has not changed. It’s followed by another charity record – Spirit Of The Forest – a 1989 charity release. On vocals: Vocals – Africa Bambaata, Amy Sky, Andy Fairweather-Lowe, Big Country, Bruce Foxton, David Clayton-Thomas, Dolette McDonald, Fleetwood Mac, Gentlemen Without Weapons, It Bites, Johnnie Warman, LL Cool J, Jungle Brothers, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Bonet, Marc Jordan, Michael De Barre, Raging Hormones, Plasmatics, Shikisha, The B-52s. Pretty weak stuff but redeemed by the inclusion of Genesis’ superb instrumental The Brazilian – check out the Magnum P.I. episode Unfinished Business from season 8 where it appears. It can also be heard in the film When The Wind Bows as the song playing on Jim and Hilda’s radio before the three minute warning is broadcast. Lastly, Queen’s sombre Is This The World We Created? It was written in Munich after Freddie Mercury and Brian May watched the news of poverty in Africa. Don’t forget it was also performed at Live Aid later in the evening by the duo.
Sting – Fragile
Paul Simon – Under African Skies
Lest we forget
Genesis – The Brazilian