There was something special about soundtracks in the ‘90s. You have a great college rock showcase in The Craft, the rap rock hybrids of Judgement Night, and in a similar vein, the rock and electronic blending found on Spawn: The Album (both albums being more memorable than the movies that birthed them), and, of course, the wonderful Mortal Kombat soundtrack that features many acts regularly covered by this publication. To many, however, the most cherished and beloved of these ‘90s soundtracks is The Crow. Featuring a wide variety of grim and gritty acts expertly entwined into the film itself, director Alex Proyas’s history in music video production was on full display. With the original album still firmly emblazoned on the psyches of a generation, Distortion Productions continues the mission of the Electronic Saviors compilations and has assembled a legion of brave artists willing to take on the challenge of doing a track-for-track cover of this near legendary soundtrack in the name of cancer research.
Like most compilations, the Draven’s Mixtape is a mixed bag with the added caveat of the listener’s level of attachment to the original song. Cocksure’s take on “Burn” is an interesting opening barometer for how the listener will react to these new versions of the songs. While the basic melody is preserved, the track is heavily layered in electronic noise with Chris Connelly’s vocal delivery far removed from Robert Smith’s original style, but strangely also a bit removed from his own as well. On the other side of the coin, Encephalon’s take on “Dead Souls” keeps a bit too true to the cover by NIN (lest we forget the song was originally by Joy Division), largely sounding like that band with a different vocalist. It is a delicate balancing act of making a song one’s own versus not doing a pure recreation, made even more challenging due to the constant comparison. Null Device, however, and their dark synthpop take of the Violent Femmes’ “Color Me Once” manages that rare feat of nearly outdoing the original, or at least making the listener temporarily forget about it.
This spectrum of too much, not enough, and just right is going be different for each listener, but Draven’s Mixtape offers enough of a variety that every fan of the original is going to come away with something they’ll love. Standouts from Null Device, Ego Likeness, and Panic Lift are sure to find their way into a few jaded ears, but there are a few head scratchers in the mix as well. It is a bold and noble challenge taken up for a good cause, so get out your cake makeup, black lipstick, scream the animal scream, and dream the crow black dream.