Judgement Night vs The Crow - Round 4
Click click bang bang, Cuz it ain't no thang, when I hang with Stone, And I kick that funky slang
Cypress Hill actually appear on the Judgement Night Soundtrack twice. Happy Walters was Cypress Hill’s producer and he was instrumental in arranging many of the partnerships on the soundtrack. Happy would later launch Nu-Metal on the masses by signing bands like Korn & Incubus. Cypress Hill had released two albums by this point. Their self titled debut Cypress Hill, sold 2 million units and produced chart topping singles like ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man’. Their second album Black Sunday sold almost twice that and launched Cypress Hill into megastardom.
The early nineties was the peak of the “war on drugs”. U.S. High Schools were bombarded with literature and advertising about the evils of drugs. Clear and Present Danger was a hit movie in 1994. It starred Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan, a CIA operative who uncovers a covert war against a drug cartel in Columbia. Also in 1994 Columbian Football star Andrés Escobar was murdered by a drug cartel in in his hometown of Medellín. There was other stuff. Watch Narcos on Netflix for the minutia.
Black Sunday’s opening track is called ‘I Wanna Get High’, and other tracks have titles like ‘Legalize It’, ‘Hits from the Bong’ and ‘Insane in the Brain’. Cypress Hill were thematically a Gangsta hip-hop group that were promoting the use of and legalisation of weed. They are also one of the first groups to successfully bridge the gap between hip-hop and rock. Today they have their own legal brands of Weed. Rappers B-Real and Sen-Dog have spoken at length about their love of alt-rock and in a later post I’ll get into detail about how they made the rap-rock crossover appear effortless on their albums. Black Sunday is a great album and if you haven’t heard it get to it now.
Pearl Jam are one of the most famous rock bands to ever come out of Seattle. They are also one of my all-time favourite bands. By the time they had collaborated with Cypress Hill, they had released Ten and Vs, which were absolutely massively successful rock albums. There will likely be a Pearl Jam post later on. For now have a listen to their collab with Cypress Hill:
This is a great tune, but it’s 98% a Cypress Hill song. I doubt Pearl Jam have ever tried to play this live on their own. The distorted guitars and whatnot that play in the background could have been by any other 90s rock band. If you already didn’t know it was Pearl Jam, you’d never guess it was them.
Is this effort good enough to defeat the track from The Crow soundtrack it’s been pitted against?
I was unaware of Joy Division until the late 90s. In fact at the time, I was unaware that Nine Inch Nails effort on The Crow soundtrack was a cover version. The movies 24 Hour Party People and Control were unmade and would be released far in the future. This is where purists get all antsy. HOW HAD YOU NEVER HEARD JOY DIVISION? JOY DIVISION ARE WAAAY BETTER THAN YOUR STUPID NEW BAND.
Is this what people said when Jimi Hendrix covered Dylan? It’s certainly what some Fleetwood Mac fans said when Irish band The Corrs covered ‘Dreams’. Metal bands have covered other non-Metal bands before and after NIN. ‘Enjoy the Silence’ by Depeche Mode, ‘Titanium’ by David Guetta, and ‘Sweet Dreams’ by The Eurythmics, have all had the metal treatment. Depending on your taste you might enjoy or detest the cover versions. (If you don’t want to miss my future post on this subject, hit the subscribe button at the bottom of this post)
What is true is that I absolutely love NIN’s cover version of ‘Dead Souls’. Sonically the minimalist treatment of the tune, with NIN’s trademark ‘clean distorted’ guitar riffs and Trent Reznors emotive vocals really rock. Along with ‘Burn’ by The Cure, ‘Dead Souls' became the defacto theme of the movie.
Living Colour are an extremely successful band who fused funk, hip-hop, rock, and metal in a way that has not been bettered by any band that came after them. They should be absolutely huge, but like a lot of bands that fuse genres or inspire musical movements, they remain largely unknown today (outside of 90s rock fans and those who watched MTV when it played music).
Run DMC were the hip-hop act that defined what a Rap group is, for my generation. They were the first hip-hop act to be broadcast on MTV, be nominated for a Grammy, and appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Their collaboration with Aerosmith on ‘Walk This Way’ charted higher than the original. Arguably they created the first ever Rap-Rock tunes with ‘Rock Box’ (below) and ‘King of Rock’.
The collaboration between Living Colour and Run DMC on Judgement Night is so much fun. Living Colour’s Prince-esque funk is here with a hard edge due to Vernon Reid’s excellent guitar play. Vocalist Corey Glover has a fun rap off with the Run DMC guys.
The big anomaly with The Crow and the Judgement Night soundtracks is that Rage Against the Machine appear on the wrong one. Formed in 1991 RATM had a meteoric rise to success. They were the band that nobody expected. With their Led Zeppelin influenced guitar riffs from Tom Morello, Zack de la Rocha’s furious spit-fire rapping style, and their heavy handed left-wing, slogan heavy lyrics, won acclaim and disdain in equal measure. They were already friends with the guys from Cypress Hill and other hip-hop artists, it seems a given that they would have been contenders for the Judgement Night soundtrack right? The fact is that RATM were actually paired with Prog-Metal giants Tool for a track. It reached the demo stage, but neither band were happy with the result. The idea was scrapped, which is a shame because there is a kernel of a classic in what they recorded:
The most famous Rap-Rock act of all time were not to feature on the soundtrack that showcased their very own genre. Instead they wound up on The Crow soundtrack. They re-recorded a song from their demo tape (that wasn’t considered good enough for their eponymous debut album). ‘Darkness’ is a fine RATM track. It has an unusual introspective bluesy intro which segues into a typical hard riffing, hard rapping number. It’s a fine track in both senses of the word. It is really well put together and it’s also just ok. It didn’t make the cut for RATM’s debut album and I dare say it’s not even in their top 20 (maybe even 30) best songs.
So what are the scores in this round?
NIN covering Dead Souls by Joy Division beats Cypress Hill & Pearl Jam for me.
Veteran acts Living Colour & Run DMC blow Rage Against the Machine out of the water in the other pairing.
I’ve been keeping score and it’s now:
The Crow 4
Judgement Night 3
Next week: We take a look at ‘forgotten acts’ like For Love Not Lisa & Medicine from The Crow. Meanwhile the pairings of Onyx & Biohazard and Mudhoney & Sir Mixalot reload their AK’s (or something).