Can't see the forest

Tree-hugging compilation album takes on a Texas conglomerate

Ever since The Concert for Bangladesh, albums aimed at benefiting worthy causes have been suspect, either as collections of inferior live versions of songs you already have or material adjudged not good enough for purely commercial purposes. If a Tree Falls--a collection of tunes abundant in chlorophyll and message from EarthBeat! Records--probably won't do very much to change that. A group of donated cuts from other already-released albums and songs written and recorded especially for the disc--whose sale will benefit the Trees Foundation--the album is pleasant enough, but hardly startling. Pre-existing songs from the likes of Bruce Cockburn and Hank Williams Jr. are much stronger than the custom cuts, which have a tendency toward the preachy.

Of course, once you meet the bad guys, you might be willing to fork over your hard-earned cash for an empty jewel box. The Trees Foundation is struggling to protect the 190,000 acres of old-growth redwood trees that surround Redway, California--some of which are 2,000 years old--from Houston-based Maxxam, Inc., and its ferret-faced Chairman/CEO/President Charles E. Hurwitz. Before being taken over by Maxxam, family-owned Pacific Lumber had practiced selective logging designed to preserve at least a semblance of the ancient forest ecosystem, but when Maxxam--wobbling under a $750 million debt incurred by buying Pacific--took over, they promptly doubled their cutting rate.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right; the rich are different from you and me: They're pure evil. Hurwitz--in addition to cutting virgin old-growth forests--was instrumental in bringing Class I horse racing to Texas. Nothing but the most savory, people-friendly businesses for ol' Chaz! Earlier he'd helped us out by building the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage Hotel smack dab atop an area that previously had been a mating ground for bighorn sheep. When the S&L that had loaned Maxxam the moolah to buy Pacific Lumber went tits up (can you say Mikey Milken?), it cost us $1.6 billion.

Although it goes counter to everything that music journalism stands for, Street Beat says buy this album, buy it by the case, use 'em for coasters or skeet shooting, because this is a case where the music doesn't really matter.

Scene, heard
The Cosmic Cup Tuesday night drum circle goes tropical every third Tuesday with Conga Night starting March 18. Dancers welcome! Photog-about-town and chronicler of early Deep Ellum James Bland has re-opened his show of excellent and intriguing pictures from those daze at Club Dada...The Reach has reformed after five months of being broken up. The band, which released one album, Closer, in 1995, is getting back together for fun this time, rather than fame and fortune. Bassist Dave Scott's steady gig with Psalm 69 would seem to preclude much steady gigging, but a limited return to area stages isn't out of the question...

Hippie Gumbo is back in the studio, working on more songs that--when added to the six from their currently available EP Joyride!--will no doubt form a full-length album; look for it in June...Congrats to David Card on Poor David's Pub's 20th birthday...Signs of a Merciful God Department: prodigiously annoying, spectacularly unfunny drive-time team the Smiths have been booted from KDGE's (94.5 FM) morning show. Over in the Signs of a Vengeful God Department we note that Boxcar Willie now has a street named after him, in Branson, Mo., natch...

Congratulations to Kirk Franklin, LeAnn Rimes, and Bill "the Midnight Cowboy" Mack on their Grammy victories, although the fact that the organization also thought that Eric Clapton and Celine Dion made the best albums of the year must take a little of the shine off...harpist Cindy Horstman will be in Austin for the first annual South 1st by West 6th Music Art Show, where she will premiere her "In Orbit," a collaboration with filmmaker Robin Noel. Horstman's music accompanies films of the earth taken on various space shuttle missions...Punkabilly outfit Sadvinyl joins Diablo Sol in the local band graveyard; most of the bandmembers will go over to Radio Diner,while Sadvinyl leader Dirty Waters (aka Andy Slizz) is scheduling some "veg time."

Street Beat strikes the Sultan's Turret with a Shaft of Light at Matt_Weitz@dallasobserver.com

 
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