Cowboy Junkies Early 21st Century Blues (Latent Recordings) Few pop bands are as lugubrious as the Cowboy Junkies. Unrelenting in their dirge-like slow march through songs, the Canadian brood produce background music for grey, listless days. Heard with the curtains open and the volume up, they can be tolerated in small bites only. That's not to denigrate the band. Listeners just have to know what they're getting themselves into: those new to the Junkies will wonder when the pace will pick up; those for whom the group is already a favourite will welcome this selection of nine covers and two originals; those who waver will probably think this a mixed bag. A definite plus is the album's anti-war theme, with a good selection courtesy of Bob Dylan (Licence to Kill), Bruce Springsteen (You're Missing), George Harrison (Isn't it a Pity) and Richie Havens (Handouts in the Rain). Although the Timmins (singer Margo, drummer Peter and guitarists Michael and John) and Alan Anton on bass don't vary the tracks enough to warrant calling them their own, and they end up paying homage to their creators. The songs' sounding good, however, probably has a lot to do with the fact they were good songs to begin with. The sole experiment among the 11 tracks is I Don't Want to Be a Soldier. Layered with drum loop, bass riff and Kevin Bond (aka Rebel), who raps original lyrics over John Lennon's insistent 'I don't wanna die', the new version is eye-opening and pleasing to the ear. Not so the Junkies' rendition of U2's One. Timid, with Margo Timmins' polite voice never reaching the anthemic full-throated vocals of Bono.