Film director Alfonso Cuarón's dystopian science fiction thriller Children of Men is about a near future in which human fertility has nearly ceased, and to represent a setting that is familiar yet disturbing, the compilers of this various-artists soundtrack (there is also an album of the score) have chosen some rock and pop songs by well-known artists dating back to the '60s, some of them, however, presented in versions not so well known. Everybody knows the heavy metal band Deep Purple, but the band's initial American hit, a cover of Joe South's "Hush," doesn't sound much like its more successful "Smoke on the Water" phase. The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" and the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" are iconic '60s songs, but they are here performed by Junior Parker and heavily accented Italian singer Franco Battiato, respectively. John Lennon's "Bring on the Lucie (Freeda Peeple)," a song featured on his 1973 album Mind Games, is not one of his more celebrated numbers, despite its anthemic appeal; the version heard here is a rehearsal take that first appeared on the Lennon Anthology box set in 1998. There are also rap and reggae toasting tracks, and some electronic music, adding to the sense of dislocation called for in the film.
Ask the Ages is Sonny Sharrock's masterpiece, and sadly it was also the last album he would record before his premature death in 1994. It's the most challenging jazz work he recorded as a leader, and it's the clearest expression of his roots as a jazz player, drawing heavily on Coltrane's modal post-bop and concepts of freedom. To that end, Sharrock reunites with Coltrane's old cohort, Pharoah Sanders, who featured Sharrock on his wild Tauhid and Izipho Zam LPs; what's more, Coltrane Quartet drummer Elvin Jones is on hand, as is young bassist Charnett Moffett. It's far and away the best, most adventurous, and most jazz-oriented backing group Sharrock recorded with during his comeback, and the results are breathtaking.