x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Various Artists: War Child presents Heroes

Few things in pop music can be as divisive as cover versions. This is because most are worthless - some so much so that they can even tarnish the original recording.

The charity organisation asked artists and bands to cover songs that influenced their work most.
The charity organisation asked artists and bands to cover songs that influenced their work most.

Few things in pop music can be as divisive as cover versions. This is because most are worthless - some so much so that they can even tarnish the original recording. In Heroes by the charity organisation War Child, many of today's most popular artists cover songs that have influenced them. The line-up is impressive, but the results are mixed. Lily Allen's version of The Clash's Straight To Hell is appalling. Her sickly sweet delivery of Joe Strummer's vitriolic lyrics is offensive and ludicrous, even if the late frontman was mates with her dad. Duffy's take on Paul McCartney's Live and Let Die (covered fantastically by Guns N' Roses in 1991) is also a shocker. Although her voice sounds seductive at first, her decision to make a brooding soul version of this epic track was a bad one. Even the usually brilliant Hot Chip manage to mess-up Joy Division's Transmission by denying it any of their trademark witty and joyful delivery and foolishly trying to mimic the bleakness of the original. Beck's take on Bob Dylan's Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat and TV on the Radio's attempt at David Bowie's Heroes are both good, but could be so much better. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs manage to make The Ramones' Sheena is a Punk Rocker utterly their own, however, and U2's Running to Stand Still definitely benefits from the Elbow treatment. But the album's saviours are Franz Ferdinand and The Hold Steady, who play stunning renditions of Blondie's Call Me and Bruce Springsteen's Atlantic City. Interestingly, both versions are almost identical to the originals. ogood@thenational.ae