Sunday, 21 October 2007



The Judgement Night soundtrack probably represents the moment/point in which the music world was most enthusiastic for rap rock fusion as the project pulled together eleven of the most exciting rock and metal acts to collaborate with ten relatively high profile hip hop acts to varying degrees of success and mostly interesting results.

When the movie Judgement Night eventually emerged in the UK several months later it was a very disappointing accompaniment to what was such a strong concept. The movie featured the still minor Jeremy Piven who was already a motor mouth while the villains of the piece came in the form of Denis Leary who had a henchman in Everlast from House Of Pain. Suddenly the pieces from the origin of this record were coming together. The hero of the day was to be Emilio Estevez. Was this really a man that listened to rap without a fuss?

It is interesting now to contrast and compare the various contributions to the collaborations and which artists won out on their respective days. There are a few tracks that display a perfect sync (such as Faith No More and the Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. in addition to Mudhoney and Sir Mix-A-Lot) but the whole album isn’t necessarily great.

Things kick off with Helmet jamming with House Of Pain on “Just Another Victim”. In many ways this is a perfect coupling as two sets of hyped young white men with short hair that like to shout a lot come together to produce a piece of aggressive music. However the final piece doesn’t necessarily sound all that different to other Helmet songs of the era and when House Of Pain drop in at the conclusion name checking Harvey Keitel amongst other items it feels taped onto the end. Rock wins.

Following comes the collaboration between Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul where the former appear to hardly make a peep. Teenage Fanclub always seemed to struggle when put up against harder rocking items (such as the bands on this record) and on this occasion De La Soul kind of dominate proceedings in laidback fashion. Rap wins.

When Living Colour and Run DMC come together it is a collaboration you suspect could have occurred much sooner. From the off it heavily recollects the legendary pairing of Anthrax and Public Enemy but it just lacks the crisp spit of Chuck D and Flavor Flav. In the end though there are no real surprises attached to this record. Run DMC have been using rock with their rhymes for years and Living Colour are not necessarily stretching or testing their skills with their contribution. A draw.

Biohazard and Onyx prove something of a dream match and after this track they even later worked together on a later version of “Slam” by Onyx. For a while back there Biohazard was one of the leading outfits in the hardcore rock rap scene, albeit an act considered slightly one dimensional and even Neanderthal. Personally though for a couple of records I thought they did what they did very well with heavy as hell slabs of metal that backed up their posturing. Onyx was also a pretty snappy proposition but their shelf life wasn’t as lengthy, perhaps they were too real. Certainly I found myself stealing one of their CDs (Bacdafucup) from a market stall in Soho once. At the end of the day the song sounds straight from a Biohazard record. Rock wins.

The Slayer and Ice-T collaboration is actually a trio of UK Subs covers and it does not necessarily sound a million miles away from Body Count. With accusations in later years being tossed towards Slayer as being racist this displays evidence to counteract such suggestions. Ultimately though the tracks are stifled by being cover versions. Score draw.

Far superior is the Faith No More and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E collaboration, which without doubt is the most famous track to have come from this compilation. With dark video in tow, on “Another Body Murdered” both acts play to their strengths and produce the highlight of the album, a pulsating and energising piece of rap rock that puts the rest of the genre to shame. Everybody wins.

Afters things get chilled out and weird as Sonic Youth scrape their guitars and Kim Gordon whirls a mantra over a Muggs beat as Cypress Hill bring their rhymes to the game. Cypress Hill actually benefit from a female accompaniment but other than that the Sonic Youth involvement is minimal (although the get the last word). Rap wins.

Following from Seattle comes the Mudhoney and Sir Mix-A-Lot collaboration as the neighbours fart out pretty stock appropriations of their wares but ultimately it totally works as the pieces perfectly sync together as rap’s true one trick pony gets lurid and dirty much in the same way that Mudhoney play their guitars (albeit in restrained fashion). Its galloping and pulsing stuff, Lukin makes for a natural at doing a hip-hop bassline, probably without even knowing. We all win!

In a similar vein Dinosaur Jr and Del The Funky Homosapien glue together unconventionally as the pair of them phone in their elements of the track and happily make a real breeze of a track even if the construct suggests mild effort. A scoreless draw.

Therapy? and Fatal arrive as something of a curious inclusion. Who on earth in American would have known who Therapy? were? And to this day I am still wondering who the fuck Fatal were (or are). With this in mind it is very much Therapy? who dominate proceedings echoing their earlier, more experimental efforts. It also reminds slightly of the Biohazard and Onyx effort, not necessarily a good thing. Rock wins.

The album ends with Pearl Jam tagging up with Cypress Hill making their second appearance on the compilation. Again Cypress Hill lay on the track thick and quickly make it their own joint. Apparently at the legendary Nirvana MTV Live And Loud concert when Cypress Hill supported they dragged out Pearl Jam for a live version. Eventually Eddie Vedder makes an appearance on the track but he sounds like he is speaking in tongues. What is going on? Rap wins.

Legend has it that there was an extra collaboration from Tool and Rage Against The Machine but word has it neither act were necessarily happy with the results. Perhaps the fact that it was two rock bands knocking heads on what was a rock rap collaboration record may have had something to do with it.

With Nu metal still a few years away and grunge still just about remaining in the game this compilation managed to capture the alternative rock spirit of the time, a spirit that was open to rap but only, it seemed, when it was aggressive. The film was rubbish but the soundtrack was good.

Thesaurus moment: join.

Judgement Night
Epic Records

No comments: