DVD REVIEW: Playing for Change: Songs Around the World

Playing for Change: Songs Around the World
(Hear Music)

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There’s a universal power that permeates every note and frame of Playing for Change: Songs Around the World, the new CD/DVD project from producer Mark Johnson. The film unites musicians from across the globe seamlessly into the same song allowing for collaboration like none before and illustrates the power of music to unite people from every place and culture. The package includes 10 amazing tracks and 5 videos of the recording, which is done mostly outside, along with a segment about the Playing For Change Foundation, which is aimed at building art and music schools worldwide.

The first video for “Stand By Me” which gained awareness for the project as it spread virally online begins with Roger Ridley, a Santa Monica street musician, singing the song alone and he is soon joined by others such as Roberto Luti of Italy, the Native American Twin Eagle Drummers from Zuni, New Mexico and a host of others. The standout songs on the album are two of Bob Marley’s best known songs, “One Love” and “War/No More Trouble” which feel totally appropriate in the worldwide setting and feature the voice of Marley himself alongside U2’s Bono, Keb’ Mo, and a number of other fantastic musicians you’ve never heard of from India, Africa, Israel, Nepal, and Europe. The lesser known musicians such as Vusi Mahlasela of South Africa, Grandpa Elliot from New Orleans, and Tal Ben Ari “Tula” of Israel overshadow the big names at times with their startling vocals and the music, which pulls from nearly every corner of the globe is edited marvelously.

The concept is fantastic and without question it’s become an ongoing project as it should soon become enormously successful, but more than anything, the music is brilliant. You may believe in the cause but you’ll get hooked by the music and the personalities of these fantastic musicians.

Tim Needles

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