There's nothing like armed conflict to bring out the covers of Black Sabbath's War Pigs. The latest version of the classic anti-war anthem comes courtesy of Barenaked Ladies keyboardist Kevin Hearn, who twangs it up with his Thin Buckle Band for their forthcoming Nightlight disc. The song also appears on the limited-edition One Big No benefit disc sold at the peace festival held at Nathan Phillips Square Saturday, April 12. Even more entertaining is the recent Satanik Mash-Ups white label of Nas rhyming Made You Look over War Pigs. The shock 'n' awe effect carries over to the flip, where 50 Cent's In Da Club is hilariously refitted with Closer To God by Nine Inch Nails.
Eminem vs. Jay-Z
The latest war involving battle-prone rappers Eminem and Jay-Z isn't over blood or bitches but, rather, bhangra beats. It seems that both Em and Jay were so impressed by the Knight Rider bump of Punjabi MC's crossover smash Beware Of The Boys that a bidding skirmish erupted over licensing rights. Jay-Z won, and the 12-inch of his anti-war rant remake ("We rebellious, we back home, screamin', 'Leave Iraq alone!'") should be in stores this week. The Eminem mash-up Piss Yourself, using the rhyme from Lose Yourself (off the 8 Mile OST), is available at the moment wherever white labels are sold.
The Boss Uncut
Free comp CDs that come stuck to magazines are usually a waste of plastic, but the April issue of the Americana-obsessed UK Uncut mag is a notable exception. Their two-volume Bruce Springsteen covers tribute collection (attached to two different editions) boasts cool contributors and a number of enticing exclusives. The first volume features Thea Gilmore's updated Cover Me, Dan Bern taking on Nebraska, the overlooked Grant McLennan B-side take on If I Should Fall Behind, Townes Van Zandt's live crack at Racing In The Street and Badly Drawn Boy's hilariously weedy Thunder Road, which he sings like he hasn't yet got his driver's licence. Volume 2 is topped by Billy Bragg's exclusive take on Mansion On The Hill and Mike Scott's dreamy Celtic revision of Independence Day.
When I spotted a copy of the Flying Funk (Bluebird/BMG) comp in the rack, the track listing had me doing a double take. Unusual as it may seem for a North American major-label release, this collection of rare groove and funk from the RCA and Flying Dutchman holdings casts aside the typical concessions to lowest-common-denominator appeal (i.e., big names and chart hits) and instead includes tracks based on their funkiness. What a concept! All it took was hiring UK Ace label sharpie Dean Rudland to play selector. And having come up with joints like Johnny Griffith's Plane Of Illusion, Lonnie Liston Smith's A Chance For Peace, Nina Simone's Save Me and the Loading Zone's No More Tears, it was money well spent. Hopefully, other label execs will discover that there's more to back catalogue marketing than cheesy hits packages.