A Record Album Against Guns

Mother Jones, the liberal-minded investigative magazine based in San Francisco, has teamed up with the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence to release You Are What You Shoot, which hit stores recently and is being distributed to Best Buy stores nationwide, as well as to independent record stores and possibly other chains. Mother Jones and the Illinois Council will split the proceeds and use them for anti-handgun programs. The album has been a year in the making and is the first recording ever produced by Mother Jones magazine. According to the magazine's communications director, Richard Reynolds, putting the album together required plenty of improvisation. "We're playing this by ear," he said. The bands, including four from the university town of "Chambana," were picked by Matt North, an intern at the magazine who spent two-plus years at the University of Illinois. From the Big University on the Prairie come The Moon Seven Times, Adam Schmitt, Titanic Love Affair, and Karen Hellyer. North said this disc is likely only the beginning for the musical version of Mother Jones, which might next tackle the bands of the Bay Area. Most of the tracks on You Are What You Shoot are solid pop songs with generous doses of guitars, yet there is sufficient diversity -­ with several quieter, country-tinged tunes -- to avoid sounding like so many knock-off bands. The curveball comes smack in the middle, when Chicago's Uptighty serves up an eight-minute-plus '70s disco throwback. Even though no track stands out as transcendent, there are no throw-aways; eight of the twelve tracks were recorded specifically for the project. To its credit, only one song -- Doghouse's otherwise enjoyable piece of guitar sludge, "Guns Are People too," sinks to preaching. The case for gun regulation is best made by the CD packaging, which includes a reproduction of Mother Jones' "The Right to Bears & Arms," a poster comparing the regulations of handguns (few) to those of teddy bears (many). In all, the album makes for nearly an hour of easy listening (but not in a muzak sense), even if its politics aren't your style. The project will benefit Mother Jones' anti-violence campaign and in part grew out of the magazine's efforts to reach a younger audience. The Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence will use its share of the money for its Teenagers Against Gun Violence program, which is currently in place in three schools. According to the Illinois Coalition's executive director, Shari Cartwright, another six schools will implement it this fall. Cartwright added that the project will not only raise money but awareness in young people, for whom guns at school have largely become a fact of life. "It's the perfect target market," she said. You Are What You Shoot: A Mother Jones Anti-handgun Compilation 12 Available at record stores or by calling 1-800-444-MOJO.

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