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Music Review: 'No Nukes' and 'Tibetan Freedom Concert'

Incite and Sound: the two CDs are more in tune than you think

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By now, the cliché is more worn than an original LP of Rubber Soul: Boomers are idealistic and involved, Gen-Xers cynical and detached. But is it true, and do these age groups have anything in common? By coincidence, two rock-charity albums from two different eras are being released at the same time: Tibetan Freedom Concert (in stores Nov. 4), a triple-disc set chronicling last summer’s pro-Buddhist alt-rock festival, and, for the first time on CD, No Nukes, the 1979 double album that featured solar-power advocates Jackson Browne, the Doobie Brothers, and Bonnie Raitt. Using scientifically proven methods, we put both albums to the boomer-vs.-buster test, with the following results:

Basic Premise

[NO NUKES] In 1979, trailblazers from early part of the decade who went on to become the establishment (Browne, Raitt, James Taylor, members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) banded together to protest abuse of nuclear energy by governments and corporations.

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] In 1996 and ’97, trailblazers from early part of the decade who went on to become the establishment (U2, Perry Farrell, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, members of R.E.M.) band together to protest abuse of Tibet at hands of Chinese government.

Overall Musical Vibe

[NO NUKES] L.A.id-back ’70s pop (the Doobies’ ”Dependin’ on You,” Raitt’s ”Runaway”) that adequately encapsulated the polished, studio-sterilized rock sensibility of its time. Token nods to R&B and gospel.

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Slump-shouldered ’90s rock (Pavement’s ”Type Slowly,” Radiohead’s ”Fake Plastic Trees”) that adequately encapsulates the unvarnished, lo-fi sensibility of its time. Token nods to rap and blues.

Total No. of Acts

[NO NUKES] 28

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] 32

Total No. of African-American Acts

[NO NUKES] 4

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] 9

Shy, Sensitive Folkie Guy with Facial Hair

[NO NUKES] James Taylor, with rare mustache

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Eddie Vedder, with rare beard

Requisite Wack Diva

[NO NUKES] Carly Simon

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Bjork

Brunette Hippie Chick with Pigtail Penchant

[NO NUKES] Nicolette Larson

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Alanis Morissette

Cool Woman with Electric Guitar

[NO NUKES] Bonnie Raitt

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Kim Gordon

Rare Ideological Lyric

[NO NUKES] ”Just give me the warm power of the sun/Give me the steady flow of a waterfall” (”Power,” John Hall, Taylor, and the Doobies)

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] ”Ladies and gentlemen, when we’re talkin’ about freein’ Tibet, I think we’re talkin’ about … luuuv!” (”Blues Explosion Man,” Jon Spencer Blues Explosion)

Apolitical Ditty Doubling as Fight-The-Power Anthem

[NO NUKES] The Doobies’ inoffensive toe-tapper ”Takin’ It to the Streets”

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] The Foo Fighters’ inoffensive toe-tapper ”This Is a Call”

Sample Stage Patter

[NO NUKES] ”We are the Doobie Brothers. We’re glad to be here.”

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] ”We’re really proud and honored to be asked to be here today. We are the Mighty Mighty Bosstones!”

Political Stage Patter

[NO NUKES] None

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] None

Woodstock-Evoking Moments

[NO NUKES] Appearance by Crosby, Stills & Nash; concert co-organizer John Hall was member of Woodstock, N.Y.-based band Orleans.

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Biz Markie does Hendrix-inspired, strangulated- vocal version of ”The Star-Spangled Banner”; Asian flute on Nawang Khechog’s ”The Celebration” sounds just like Canned Heat’s ”Going Up the Country.”

Uplifting Oldie About Togetherness

[NO NUKES] ”Get Together,” Jesse Colin Young

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] ”One,” U2

Requisite Oldies Medley

[NO NUKES] ”Devil With the Blue Dress Medley,” Bruce Springsteen’s hot-blooded rush through ’60s garage rock.

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] KRS-1’s burly run-through of three of his hip-hop anthems

… And the Crowd Joins In!

[NO NUKES] CSN lead sing-along of ”Teach Your Children.”

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Biz Markie leads chant-along of ”Free Tibet!”

Remake of Famous Protest Song

[NO NUKES] Dylan’s ”The Times They Are A-Changin’,” which Taylor, Simon, and Graham Nash warble as if at white-liberal summer camp

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Jimmy Cliff’s ”The Harder They Come,” which mohawked punkers Rancid rip through with enough force to scare white liberals

Trio of Revered Veterans Reunited for Show

[NO NUKES] Crosby, Stills and Nash

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Beastie Boys

Memorable Moment Not Included on Album

[NO NUKES] Springsteen’s intense, dark-Jersey-night rendition of ”The River”

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Patti Smith scolding photographers and other media ”parasites”

Enclosed Material for Further Studies

[NO NUKES] 36-page booklet with updated liner notes, luminous photos of solar-power sites, moony testimonials from the likes of Graham Nash (”Nuclear waste scares the hell out of me”) and Poco (”Nuclear power scares me to death”), and clip-‘n’-save directory of related organizations

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Enclosed CD-ROM with luminous photos of Tibetan countryside, moony testimonials from the likes of Björk (”I was obsessed with Tibet as a teenager”) and Bono (”I’m not a Buddhist but I so look up to their points of view”), and clip-‘n’-save directory of related organizations

After the Deluge

[NO NUKES] Combination of good intentions, earnest performances, advocacy of non-violent activism, and wariness toward government reveals liberal bias of ’60s and ’70s rock stars.

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] Combination of good intentions, earnest performances, advocacy of nonviolent activism, and wariness toward government reveals liberal bias of ’80s and ’90s rock stars.

Grade

[NO NUKES] B-

[TIBETAN FREEDOM] B