Finally, a charity record that breaks the mould of tired old rehashes branded with a caring, sharing label. Not Alone, a majestic five-CD boxed set compiled by avant garde luminary David Tibet and Jnana Records’ Mark Logan, is not only sending its proceeds to Médecins Sans Frontières; it’s also a record of the state of the song in today’s independently minded musicians. Available via Jnana’s website for a paltry $24.99, this is a set that offers one-offs from the likes of Marc Almond, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, rediscovered folkies Shirley Collins and Vashti Bunyan as well as Antony, this time without his Johnsons.
With 75 tracks at its disposal, Not Alone makes no bones about its musical bandwidth. Electronic experimental duo Matmos grab psalteries and bagpipes for their wordless ‘A Song For The Appeal’ and Devendra Banhart a simple guitar for ‘A Sight To Behold’. Listeners who tune in for Almond’s exquisite rendition of Charles Aznavour’s ‘Our Love My Love’ or Antony’s persuasively lovely ‘A Hole In My Soul’ without a knowledge of these singers’ deep experimental roots may be surprised by the throbbings from, say, noise ritualists Coil or the deeply minimalist Charlemagne Palestine. But the beauty of Not Alone is its expansiveness: few compilations could, or would, have the room to roam from the sublime to the frankly odd – and in the latter category, a cover of the Osmonds’ 1970s hit, ‘Crazy Horses’ from Sundial hits the target.Louise Gray