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White Riot: A Tribute to the Clash (Uncut Magazine)

Never met a tribute album worthy of the name. They're doomed -- if not outright damned -- endeavors that make you wonder whether the artists involved ever listened to, learned from, or felt the musicians to whom they're paying homage. The Clash has already suffered such an insult -- Burning London, it was called, with the band placed atop its smoldering embers like witches at Salem. The editors of the British rock mag Uncut, however, wouldn't spread 31 tracks across two discs to sully their rep -- not with Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, inside the publication's pages, weighing in on a readers'-poll top 10 of the Clash canon.

Offering brand-new renditions of the familiar rockers as well as the occasional B-side, the contributors are 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 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 through "Straight to Hell," and Asian Dub Foundation's beery-sneery "Police on My Back," the latter performed as if a copper's standing on their fookin' necks.

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