When Politics Doesn't Play

When big recording stars like the B-52's, Rosanne Cash and Salt-N-Pepa come together to make a benefit album, major labels wrestle for the chance to issue it, right? Nope. At least not when the proceeds are slated for a cause as politically sticky as pro-choice. When producers Julie Hermelin and Joy Ray pitched the project, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, 20 stars signed on. But every major label passed on the project. "Basically, they wanted something less volatile," says Hermelin. Labels insist that but for the rare hit ("We Are the World"), compilation albums don't sell. But after the backlash against Time Warner over Ice-T's "Cop Killer," execs are extra gun-shy about drawing boycotts. So Hermelin is signing with an independent-even though her singers otherwise record for the majors.