Offering brand-new renditions of the familiar anthems and occasional B-side, the contributors split mostly between two camps: U.S. indies from the country side of rock (Matthew Ryan, Josh Rouse, Cracker) and Britons with critical cred and sales to match (Billy Bragg, Thea Gilmore). The rest are the 'tweeners who seem to exist for specialty comps: Ah, lookie here, Tommy Stinson isn't waiting 'round for Axl anymore, bless him, but instead working with The Figgs on "Hateful." Revelation: Billy Bragg, some 16 years ago, sounded more Strummer than strum on "Garageland," recorded before he found Woody Guthrie. Disappointment: Edwyn Collins' "1977," because he recontextualizes it to sound like Paul Weller . . . or Steve Winwood.
Cracker's pan-fried "White Riot" appeared on Burning London, no matter what the magazine says; it pairs well with the Waco Brothers' "I Fought the Law," returned to Bobby Fuller country. The best contributions are the unlikeliest, probably because they're not the rough-'n'-tumblers that send you back to the originals they mimic: Jesse Malin's Neil Youngian "Death of Glory," Rouse's stripped-down trip straight through "Straight to Hell," and Asian Dub Foundation's beery-sneery "Police on My Back," the latter performed like a copper's standing on their fookin' necks.