The Phantom Tollbooth
Cry for Justice
Artist: Various
Label: Indie
E-mail: pascal@swipnet.se for more information)
Length: 11/74.02

A fundraiser for a church-run school in Sudan, produced in Sweden, and featuring a range of artists from six countries--this is probably the most "international" project I've reviewed so far. The artists featured represent among them Sweden, the USA, England, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. All of them have given these tracks free of charge to support the cause the CD was produced for.
 
Musically, quite a range is spanned, but mostly on the lighter-rock end of things, from the bluesy-sounds of New Zealand's Steve Apirana to the blues rock of Fresh Claim (England) the reggae of Ben Okafor (England via Nigeria)  to the dance-influenced pop of Booley House (Northern Ireland). The quality varies somewhat. Ben Okafor, Fresh Claim, Halcyon Days, and Booley House probably offer the strongest contributions, and a couple of more lively tracks might have brightened things somewhat, but there is some good material here.
 
The lyrical themes mostly revolve around social justice: the need for the church to wake up to God's concern for His creation. Ben Okafor's laid back reggae vocals call for this most clearly on "Generation," while Fresh Claim touch on the more personal side and their contribution seems to suggest that perhaps God's care for us should be our motivation to care for others. These and several other artists deserve any publicity this compilation brings them after years of hard work and quality releases.
 
This is an interesting and diverse collection with a couple of weaknesses. It would be good to raise the tone slightly. But anyone interested in artists from further afield would do well to support this album, and in the process support the school children of the Sudan.
 
By James Stewart (1/5/99)