Review: ‘War Child Presents Heroes’

‘War Child Presents Heroes’: Aidin Vaziri | The basic concept here is to have a bunch of old people pick young people to do their old songs, but in a young way – or something like that. The only problem is that it’s for charity, so we can’t say anything bad about it. Not even when Rufus Wainwright whines the whole way through a medley of songs from Brian Wilson’s “Smile.” Or when Hot Chip turns Joy Division’s “Transmission” into a future jingle for Radio Shack. And absolutely, positively not when Duffy makes like a strangled barn owl on her remake of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die.” That would be totally wrong. So let’s talk about the good stuff instead, like Beck’s spectacularly noisy garage-rock rewrite of Bob Dylan’s “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,” which dispenses with the original’s melody to make room for maximum racket. The Hold Steady, meanwhile, restores all the vulnerability and drama into Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” – a much-needed reminder of realness after that Super Bowl display. Even Lily Allen manages to convert the Clash’s “Straight to Hell” into a surprisingly decent – if totally inappropriate – children’s lullaby, but she kind of cheats because Mick Jones is involved. Elsewhere, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are perfect interpreters of the Ramones’ “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”; TV on the Radio was placed on this earth for its woozy remake of David Bowie’s “Heroes”; and Elbow shows masterful restraint on U2’s “Running to Stand Still.” Buy it for the children.

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