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Hempilation 2: freetheweed

by L. Messmer

It isn't everyday you can pick up a compact disc and be bombarded by mantras for marijuana. The Hempilation 2: freetheweed benefit album does just that. NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) has followed up with their 1995 Hempilation album with another mix of countless musicians with weed on their minds. Artists that range from George Clinton, Dar Williams, Mike Watt and Spearhead offer up tracks that praise marijuana. The liner notes provide information on legalization, while the album provides entertaining and humorous anecdotes about the green plant in question as well as many interesting cover songs. Vic Chesnutt sings "Weed To The Rescue," which laments on the medicinal purposes of marijuana. Chesnutt parts from his usual solemn folkesque style and offers up a distortion-laden song that is so muddled the only thing that can be heard is the chorus "weed to the rescue" and "big fat sack." George Clinton on "U.S. Custom Coast Guard Dope Dog" provides a scenario of the benefits of being a dope dog over his telltale funk backdrop. The beat drives the story and Clinton's lyrics are hysterical. He talks about the dog's nose at the end of a long day and how sore it is from finding vast amounts of weed. Dar Williams croons on "Play The Greed" and brings a more political aspect to legalization. Instead of harping on getting stoned or being pursued by the authorities, Williams discusses the economical aspect of marijuana. She sings about how corporations keep pushing against legalization based on the monopolies they hold and William also mentions the environmental benefits of marijuana. The Scud Mountain Boys back up the protest song and provide that ever-important catchy beat to any political message. Besides having a musical style for every taste, the Hempilation compilation provides some very interesting cover songs. Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise does a true to form version of Fraternity of Man's "Don't Bogart Me." The cover sounds just like the original version from the film Easy Rider, but with a bit more twang to it. Another cover that sticks to its predecessor is "Long Haired Country Boy" performed by From Good Homes. Although there are plenty of hints from the original sound by Charlie Daniels, the beat is swampier and not as countrified. The cover that really stands out on this compilation is executed by Spearhead. With Michael Franti (formerly from Disposable Heroes of Hypocrisy) on vocals, the band covers "The Joker" by The Steve Miller Band. Spearhead turns this classic rock jam into a soulful experience. The bass line is extra heavy and Franti adds a dimension that is utterly smooth. Hempilation 2: freetheweed offers a variety of sounds from a vast assortment of artists. Everything from reggae to country to rap, the flow from styles is steady and easy to listen to. The marijuana theme throughout all of the tracks is a perfect link for the different styles and the final song encapsulates the entire effort: "The Dope Smokin' Song."

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