Spotlight Album Review #2

Reviewed on this page:

During the four nights after Christmas in 1979, a number of musicians got together at the Hammersmith Odeon in England for a series of benefit concerts to provide famine relief to the victims of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. The event was organized by Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim (who was then Secretary-General of the U.N.), and it involved older artists such as McCartney and the Who as well as younger new wave acts like the Clash and the Pretenders. A 2-LP set titled Concerts for the People of Kampuchea was issued in 1981, containing selected highlights from the four evenings. It's good to have some historical document of this event. Although the album isn't the best of its kind, it does capture an interesting moment in rock history. The album is out of print, and has never been available on CD.

Side One is owned by the Who, who reportedly played a three-hour set on the third night. The four songs contained here are well-played by the post-Keith Moon quartet. It's not exactly a Live At Leeds-class performance, but it's respectable enough. A good performance of the then-timely "Sister Disco" makes this set unique.

Side Two contains three songs by the Pretenders (the original lineup, no less) and one from Elvis Costello. It's good to hear lively performances by these new wave icons in their prime, but the high points of this side are the two rollicking numbers by Rockpile, featuring Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. Their guest vocalist on "Little Sister" is none other than Robert Plant, doing his best Elvis impersonation.

Side Three demonstrates the difficulty of doing justice to so many artists within the constraints of an LP, as it allows only one song apiece for four of the acts. Queen had the first night of the event to themselves, but they are only represented by one long song. The Clash's set could probably have been represented by a better song than "Armagideon Time", though the song is appropriately solemn for the occasion. It's more fun to hear Ian Dury's goofy "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" and the Specials' droll "Monkey Man". The latter is a reminder of the 1979 ska revival in England.

Side Four showcases McCartney's exploits during the fourth and final evening, first with three Wings songs, and then with three bombastic numbers by Rockestra, a McCartney-led jam of at least twenty English rockers. (The credited list appears at the bottom of this page). The "Rockestra Theme" won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. This is definitely a unique moment that is interesting to hear and see. Unfortunately, the documentary Rock For Kampuchea has never been released on DVD. But, thanks to YouTube, the "Rockestra Theme" footage is embedded below:


Track Listings:

Side One

1. BABA O'RILEY -- The Who
2. SISTER DISCO -- The Who
4. SEE ME, FEEL ME -- The Who

Side Two

1. THE WAIT -- Pretenders
2. PRECIOUS -- Pretenders
3. TATTOOED LOVE BOYS -- Pretenders
4. THE IMPOSTER -- Elvis Costello & The Attractions
6. LITTLE SISTER -- Rockpile with Robert Plant

Side Three

1. NOW I'M HERE -- Queen
3. HIT ME WITH YOUR RHYTHM STICK -- Ian Dury & The Blockheads
4. MONKEY MAN -- The Specials

Side Four

1. GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE -- Paul McCartney & Wings
2. EVERY NIGHT -- Paul McCartney & Wings
3. COMING UP -- Paul McCartney & Wings
4. LUCILLE -- Rockestra *
5. LET IT BE -- Rockestra *
6. ROCKESTRA THEME -- Rockestra *

* Rockestra performers include: John Bonham, Billy Bremner, Gary Brooker, Howie Casey, Tony Dorsey, Dave Edmunds, Steve Holly, James Honeyman-Scott, Steve Howard, Kenney Jones, John Paul Jones, Laurence Juber, Denny Laine, Ronnie Lane, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Thadeus Richard, Bruce Thomas, Pete Townshend


Other spotlight album reviews:

#1: Sigur Ros "Von" (1997)

#3: Gerry Goffin - "It Ain't Exactly Entertainment" (1973)

#4: The Graces - "Perfect View" (1989)

#5: Genesis - "Calling All Stations" (1997)

#6: hindu love gods (1990)

#7: Various Artists - "Message To Love: The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970" (1996)

#8: Distractions - "Nobody's Perfect" (1980)

#9: Deconstruction (1994)

#10: Juicy Groove - "First Taste" (1978)

#11: Emmylou Harris - "Gliding Bird" (1969)

#12: Various Artists - "Beyond The Wildwood: A Tribute To Syd Barrett" (1987)

#13: Candy - "Whatever Happened To Fun..." (1985)

#14: RTZ - "Return To Zero" (1991)

#15: Klark Kent - "Kollected Works" (1995)

#16: Various Artists - "Rainy Day" (1984)

#17: Alex Chilton - "1970" (1996)

#18: Feist - "Monarch Lay Your Jewelled Head Down" (1999)

#19: Attila (1970)

#20: Slipknot - "Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat." (1996)

#21: Eyes Adrift (2002)

#22: Stoney and Meatloaf (1971)

#23: Elliott Murphy - "Aquashow" (1973)

#24: Evanescence - "Origin" (2000)