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Popular bands turn to covers for charity

Recent releases, all of which benefit charities, use the occasion of a significant anniversary to revisit a specific album.

Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
From left: U2’s Adam Clayton, Bono, Larry Mullen Jr., and The Edge perform in London on July 9, 2017.

From the music of Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchell to Duke Ellington and Bob Marley, the most common approach for a tribute album has been to draw from an artist’s entire body of work. 

However, three recent releases, all of which benefit charities, use the occasion of a significant anniversary to revisit a specific album.

Alternative rockers Nada Surf curated “Standing at the Gates: The Songs of Nada Surf’s Let Go.” Benefiting the American Civil Liberties Union and The Pablove Foundation, it was released digitally on Feb. 2 and will be out on CD March 2. The compilation commemorates the 15th anniversary of the New York City band’s “Let Go” and features contributions from the likes of Aimee Mann, Manchester Orchestra, and The Long Winters.

In conjunction with its 30th anniversary, U2’s “The Joshua Tree” received a track-by-track tribute late last year. “The Joshua Tree – New Roots” featured recordings by Irish musicians (including Imelda May, Gavin James, and The Strypes) as well as a live tour recording from the legendary Irish quartet itself and benefited Ireland’s children’s hospice LauraLynn.

Meanwhile, singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile produced last May’s “Cover Stories” in celebration of the 10th anniversary of her album “The Story.” It features recordings by artists ranging from Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to Pearl Jam and Adele. “Cover Stories” benefits War Child, a British organization that aids children who are living in countries in conflict. “Knowing that there are parents fleeing in the middle of the night, drowning in the Mediterranean, and then being so ill-received whenever they did believe they found safety, we just found it so heartbreaking,” said Carlile last April of her and her wife Catherine Shepherd’s reaction to hearing the plight of refugees from Syria and elsewhere. Ms. Shepherd is the executive director of Carlile’s Looking Out Foundation.

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