Various ArtistsBenefit for Truth & Justice: Free the West Memphis 3 Aces & Eights/Koch Re

There's nothing quite like sitting snug in front of your fireplace, drinking hot cocoa, and knowing the bad people are behind bars—or headed that way. Sure, sometimes it's hard to pick out who the bad people are, but most times, it's obvious. Like that boy over there—the one with the black nail polish and Black Sabbath T-shirt. No doubt about it—he does pot and listens to that devil music! Probably doesn't even like cocoa! Eventually he's gonna kill someone. Might as well lock him up now!

Seem ridiculous? Ever driven through the Bible Belt? Ever been perceived as "different"? Ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time? I have, and so have the West Memphis Three, but they're much unluckier than I am. Then again, I'm blond; they're Goth. Damien Echols (on death row), Jason Baldwin (life) and Jessie Misskelley (life) were teens back in 1993 when they were wrongly convicted of murdering three small children in West Memphis, Arkansas. Two documentaries have been filmed about their cases for HBO, which prompted Danny Bland and Scott Parker of Aces & Eights Recordings to do something about it—hence this benefit CD, to which a number of musicians have donated tracks, hoping to raise awareness for their brothers-in-too-much-black. The Supersuckers' "Heavy Heart" perfectly captures the head space of a tired rock star through singer Eddie Spaghetti's ardent vocals, heartstring-tuggin' guitar and lines like "Got an early morning hairdo that no comb can get through. . . . And there ain't nothing romantic about the hours I keep." The Long Beach Dub All-Stars cover Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" with Joe Strummer, which gets you salivating to shoot the root. Tom Waits' "Rains on Me" has his patented down-home gravelly singing mixed with a Schleprock-y if-it-wasn't-for-bad-luck-I'd-have-no-luck-at-all essence and stuffed between twangy guitars and boozy kick drums—perfect music for a New Orleans funeral march on a drizzly, gray day. Tony Scalzo's "Indicted" is a full-on air-guitar tune. Killing Joke's dramatic "Our Last Goodbye" reunites the Goth band for a bust-out of powerful Pink Floyd-ish smoke-machine vibes that leave you sitting there with your lighter burning, wanting another hit. But the song that gets the award for being almost too packed with talent goes to the Supersuckers' "Poor Girl," which was written by John Doe and Exene Cervenka, produced by Billy Zoom, and sung by Eddie Vedder. Damn! Steve Earle, the Murder City Devils, Mark Lanegan, Nashville Pussy and Rocket From the Crypt also pop up here to lend support. As Jello Biafra puts it as he leads into L7's "Boys in Black," "It can happen to you." And if it does, you better hope someone gives a shit. (Arrissia Owen)

A PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS FROM THE BLOOD DRIVE 2000 HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL (AT HIDDEN VALLEY RANCH, ADJACENT TO VERIZON WIRELESS AMPHITHEATRE, 8808 Irvine Center Dr., irvine, (800) 583-8700. SAT., noon. $40. All Ages) WILL GO TOWARD FREEING THE WEST MEMPHIS 3; fOR MORE INFO ON THE CASE, LOG ON TO WWW.THEJUSTICE PROJECT.ORG OR WWW.WM3.ORG.

 
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