Despite being the premier music charity of choice (as witnessed by this week’s Coldplay / Killers post-Brits gig), the War Child album franchise has not been without its misfires. The 1995 –Help‘ record may have captured the Britpop zeitgeist to perfection but since then there have been the patchy –Hope‘ –1 Love‘ and –One Day In A Life‘ – collections of odd covers and middling originals interspersed with the occasionally inspiring moment.
–Heroes‘ however, finds matters firmly back on track. The concept would seem to be bullet proof – classic artists chose a classic song from their repertoire and pick one of today’s acts to cover it. Given that this is designed to sell as many copies as possible, there are no huge curveballs here with names such as Dylan, McCartney, Bowie and Springsteen doing the selection honours. All involved go down fairly obvious routes both with song and artist choice but still the results are up to the mark.
Three tracks stand head and shoulders above the rest though. U2 could have tried too hard to prove their alternative credentials, instead wisely settling on a safe pair of hands in Elbow and the perfect song in –Running To Stand Still‘. The combination of the two is exquisite, given a heartbreaking poignancy in this particular context. The meeting of Lilly Allen and the Clash too has a perfect symmetry to it, her bouncy version of –Straight To Hell‘ belying its dark undertones. The Hold Steady covering Springsteen’s –Atlantic City‘ is a role they were born to play but they certainly make the most of it.
Nothing else can really match these tracks but several give it a good go – Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing the Ramones, Beck doing Dylan, even the Kooks having a crack at the Kinks. The only real failures are perhaps the least expected, TV On The Radio failing to get to grips with Bowie’s –Heroes‘ (surely an open goal if ever there was one) and Hot Chip’s lightweight version of Joy Division’s –Transmission‘. Quibbles are few though really and this is one record featuring bloody Duffy that you can still own with a clear conscience. Buy it here.