By
December 24, 2001 12:00 PM

Various Artists (Columbia)

Album of the week

The great thing about rock standards is that they ache and ooze with so much primal feeling that they can be dusted off for any intense occasion. The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” delivered in vintage bone-cracking style at this Paul McCartney-organized Oct. 20 benefit, could be the motto for the U.S. Marines—or for Hillary Clinton, who was sucker-punched by a rude reception at Madison Square Garden.

For every odd choice (Melissa Etheridge howling “Born to Run”) there is an inspired one: David Bowie is a cockney carnival barker in a fresh look at Paul Simon’s “America”; Destiny’s Child harmonize sweetly on the Bee Gees’ “Emotion”; Mick Jagger and Keith Richards summon the Stones’ beer-belter “Salt of the Earth” (“Say a prayer for the common foot soldier/ Spare a thought for his backbreaking work”). In two discs that veer from patriotism to pacifism to Adam Sandler (yes, Operaman is in the house), leaving McCartney’s “Let It Be” for near the end still seems elegantly, innocently correct.

Bottom Line: Keep on rockin’ in the free world

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