The updated Dead Man Walking: Legacy Edition enhances the original soundtrack to Tim Robbins's Oscar-winning 1995 movie, including a bonus DVD and a newly recorded bonus track, the gripping "Dead Man," from Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. Dead Man Walking was a moving and somber examination of capital punishment, based on Sister Helen Prejean's book of the same name. At the filmmaker's request, well-known activist artists like Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, and Michelle Shocked contributed original songs inspired by the subject matter. The included bonus DVD documents a 1998 concert--hosted by Tim Robbins and benefiting Sister Helen and Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation--which brought together many of the artists who had contributed to the original soundtrack including Eddie Vedder, Lyle Lovett, and Steve Earle. The performances are uniformly impassioned: Steve Earle recreates his stark portrait of a death row guard's story in "Ellis Unit 1" and teams with Lyle Lovett to cover Townes Van Zandt's "Lungs." Even in a concert whose subject is capital punishment, moments of levity find their way into the proceedings. Robbins shares an amusing list of protest song titles that didn't make the cut for the soundtrack and Vedder entertains the crowd with his story of delivering the filmmakers a song called "Dead Man Walking," only to learn that he had been pre-empted by Springsteen's Oscar-nominated title track. Ani Difranco's jittery energy seems a little out of place, but the closing set by Vedder and Pearl Jam bandmate Jeff Ament, joined by Doors drummer John Densmore and Rahat Fateh Ali Kahn (son to famed Pakistani vocalist Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn), ends the evening on a fittingly restrained note. --Ben Heege
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Eddie Vedder's Nusrat Tribute...
Joe Pierre | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This isn't exactly a review of the Dead Man Walking Soundtrack -- you can find that under one of the other listings for that CD. Rather, it's a Eddie Vedder/PJ-centric review of this particular Legacy Edition version of the CD. The Legacy Edition of the Dead Man Walking Soundtrack is a bit different in that it includes Eddie Vedder's "Dead Man," which was originally left off the original soundtrack (and the movie) because it conflicted with Bruce Springsteen's eponymous tune. Not exactly a reason to go out and buy this CD, since "Dead Man" can already be found on PJ's "Lost Dogs" album. Likewise, while the Vedder duets with undisputed master of Quawali, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, "Face of Love" and "Long Road" are pretty awesome, the complete extended versions are on the Dead Man Walking Score (not soundtrack), along with some other tunes featuring Nusrat, so you should buy that instead.
The reason to buy this Legacy Edition package is that it includes a DVD of the "Not in Our Name" charity concert denouncing capital punishment at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1998. Politics aside, the concert includes Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett (accompanied by cellist John Hagen), Ani DiFranco and then a very cool set by Eddie Vedder with Jeff Ament, John Densmore (from the Doors), David Robbins (Tim Robbins' brother, who did the movie score), along with Nusrat's nephew, Rahat Nusret Fateh Ali Khan and Dildar Hussain (on tabla). Nusrat died in early 1998, so couldn't make it here, and the acoustic mini-set by Vedder and Co. is something of a tribute concert. First, Vedder plays the Cat Stevens tune, "Trouble," a nice plaintive tune with Ed on vocals and acoustic guitar. Pretty cool. Then he does "Dead Man" with Jeff (who's on acoustic bass) -- this is such a great song and apparently one of PJ's favorites. Finally they sit down with the rest of the players for "Long Road" and "Face of Love." Everybody's pretty chill, sitting cross-legged out on a rug spread onstage, and the group tunes have great interplay between Rahat and Eddie. Eddie's even doing the Nusrat parts near the end. Of course, Rahat is no Nusrat, so it's not quite as good as the score, but it's live and pretty inspired. Parts of the mini-set used to be available on YouTube, but no more -- someone from Sony must have gotten upset -- so here's where to go for the music and the footage.
Ed clearly revered Nusrat and was influenced by his singing (e.g., "Arc" on 'Riot Act'), and it's a pity they didn't have the chance to collaborate more. But this gives you some idea of the potential, and this 30 minutes of music was well worth the (used) price I paid for the soundtrack."