Tribute albums that mean to fete pop and rock artists are often well-meaning failures. But this salute to both U2's music and singer Bono's tireless humanitarian work on behalf of the African continent is the rare tribute disc that actually deserves repeated listening. The primary reason for that: None of the African acts involved make any attempt to ape the original. Instead, African stars like Les Nubians, Vieux Farka Touré and Ba Cissoko transplant the Irish rockers' earnest, stadium-swelling rock into their own traditions. The results are always interesting, and at times much more than that.
In Ba Cissoko's hands, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" becomes a cyclical Afro-guitar groove that simmers and burns but avoids U2's predilection for the epic gesture. Taking a different tack on "With or Without You," Les Nubian bring the burbles and bleeps of the disco to a dreamy club track that's more laidback than the original and also far sexier. And for pure soul, you can't beat Tony Allen's falsetto yearning on his buoyant, horn-powered version of "Where the Streets Have No Name." It's utterly different from the Pet Shop Boys' gloriously cool interpretation of the same tune and just as startling.
In terms of songcraft, no one will ever confuse U2 with the Beatles. Even so, In the Name of Love suggests that their songbook deserves much more attention from artists working outside the precincts of modern rock.
A portion of the proceeds from In the Name of Love will benefit the Global Fund, the world's largest financer of the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.