War Child’s Heroes

The princess of London is Lily Allen. She is—no exaggeration—everywhere: on enormous billboards, on the radio, on every gossip page, on catwalk playlists, on the February cover of Spin. (She makes a charming appearance in FASHION’s latest issue, too!) And just when you’re starting to feel a bit bothered, she does something you can’t deny is brill. Like cover “Straight To Hell” by The Clash with all the insouciance she can muster, turning a punk classic into ska-lite delight (with the help of one Mick Jones, by the way). The song is a smash, the first whopping success from the covers album Heroes for humanitarian charity War Child. It starts playing in your head every time you see War Child posters on the subway and you think two things: 1. Is there anything Lily can’t get away with? And 2. Oh, right. I was supposed to blog about that album.

Heroes (Musicor) is here today, March 3; proceeds from each CD sold go to War Child (CDs are $10, warchild.ca). And yes, it’s all covers, but don’t groan: the premise has a perfect twist. Each music legend, from Bob Dylan to Blondie to Bowie, chose a contemporary artist to take on one of their jukebox classics. So you have The Hold Steady, Bruce Springsteen’s biggest fans, doing “Atlantic City.” The Ramones chose maybe the only real punk band left in NYC, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, to spit out “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker.” Leonard Cohen chose his son Adam to croon “Take This Waltz” (awww!). Duffy breathes new soul into “Live And Let Die.” The Scissor Sisters “Do The Strand” with snap and Estelle’s got “Superstition.”

On a few tracks, the disparity between cover band and idol is too obvious, kind of like the time New York Magazine shot Lindsay Lohan as Marilyn Monroe. (For example: yes, we heart Hot Chip, but they can’t do justice to Joy Division’s “Transmission.”) But on the whole, it’s great fun for an even greater cause.

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