Various Artists - VH1 Storytellers 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Brian Kahn   
Tuesday, 25 April 2000

Various Artists

VH1 Storytellers
format: CD
label: Interscope Records
release year: 2000
performance: 8
sound 7
reviewed by: Brian Kahn

The highly acclaimed ‘Storytellers’ series on VH1 has finally done the inevitable and released a compilation album of performances from the show. Now entering its fifth season, ‘Storytellers’ showcases artists and the stories behind the songs, also featuring performances in small intimate settings. It is from these performances that the tracks for this album were chosen. With four completed seasons, there was an abundance of choices of material.

The album opens with an almost eerie performance of "China Girl" by David Bowie that is drastically different than the original studio version. John Mellencamp, performing "Jack & Diane," also deviates from the familiar version by breaking out into a rap in the middle of the song. When performers vary their live performances, as they do on this album, it can it can either make the song even better than their well-known recordings, creating something new that will be sought out by collectors, or the results can be tragic. Fortunately the ‘Storytellers’ album captures much of the former and very little of the latter. The performance of "Strong Enough," a song I normally like, by Sheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks, both artists I enjoy listening to, was the only example of a song that was changed for the worse.

This album features many other artists, including Blues Traveler’s lead singer John Popper, who is an incredible live performer, Jewel, Dave Matthews, and many more. A portion of the proceeds of this album benefit The City of Hope. The City of Hope is a hospital nationally recognized for its cutting-edge research and treatment of cancer and other diseases. It is nice to see VH1 and the artists involved giving to charity, especially The City of Hope. Perhaps it will teach a well-needed philanthropic lesson to Generation X.

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