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Songs Around the World (Audio/Video Version)

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Album Review

Playing for Change is producer Mark Johnson's multimedia project intending to tie the world together via music. Johnson traveled the globe between 2004 and 2008, finding musicians in every corner of the world, from African villages to the streets of Santa Monica, then recorded them, usually singing American rock and pop classics, for this 2009 charity album. Many of the ten songs here are quite familiar — Ben E. King's "Stand by Me," Peter Gabriel's "Biko," Tracy Chapman's "Talkin' Bout a Revolution," U2's "Love Rescue Me," Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," and Bob Marley's "One Love" and "No More Trouble" — and even if the arrangements aren't necessarily faithful, they are familiar, blending in elements of blues, gospel, folk, reggae, and African music that's eclectic but not exotic. That familiarity isn't just due to the heavy presence of blues singer Keb' Mo' — who sings on three tracks here — and Bono's cameo, but also how Johnson's discovery Roger Ridley is essentially a soul singer in the vein of Ted Hawkins and how all the material, even Pierre Minetti's written-to-order "Don't Worry," is presented in the form of Western pop music. This does help give Playing for Change a broad potential audience, one that might find itself introduced to new rhythms, harmonies, and textures thanks to this good-hearted project.

Customer Reviews

Silly iTunes

This album is half the price on the Playing For Change website....

Absolutely Amazing

There are some who say peace cannot be attained. THEY are the ones who are naive.

An Amazing Way to Change the World.

I saw this on PBS a month ago, and it is amazing. What a concept to record a song with artists from all around the world. And the best part is they're nobodies, and they're incredibly talented and deserve the attention. If you're looking for something like nothing else with good quality and a unique take, this is definitely for you.


Formed: 2004

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

An ongoing multimedia project, Playing for Change was created in 2004 by producer/engineers Mark Johnson and Enzo Buono. Hoping to break down musical and social barriers and promote a peaceful world-view, the duo traveled around the globe recording street musicians playing the same songs with the idea of creating a pastiche of the recordings. The project's first single, a cover of Ben E. King's classic "Stand by Me," featuring the Santa Monica street performer Roger Ridley, became a YouTube sensation....
Full Bio
Songs Around the World (Audio/Video Version), Playing for Change
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Customer Ratings