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Rakim inspires musical dream teams


Rakim Credit: Getty

Pity poor Eric B.

The DJ half of the classic rap duo Eric B. and Rakim, he's seen his partner gain international acclaim as one of the greatest MCs. Just as the perform-a-classic-album-in-its-entirety trend plays itself out, though, Rakim decides to call up The Roots instead to back him at the Blue Note for a performance of their hip-hop masterpiece "Paid in Full" tonight.

While the split between Eric B. and Rakim might have been amicable, there have been other, messier divorces in the history of music, which means there are some classic songs that will never be played by their original artists again.

Therefore, amNY would like to take the liberty of playing matchmaker for some famous bandleaders, all for the benefit of the audience.

Here are five classic albums that could still be performed today with a couple of lineup substitutions:

David Byrne with Radiohead
'Speaking in Tongues' (formerly with Talking Heads)
The band that gave us "Creep" and continues to try and change the music industry got its name from a Talking Heads song (from the soundtrack to "True Stories"). We'd rather hear them take on something such as "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)."

Morrissey with James
'The Queen Is Dead' (formerly with the Smiths)
Finding a British rock band of the 1990s that is still truly active and not either "on hiatus" (Blur), on a reunion tour (Pulp) or separated by court order (Oasis) is a difficult task. Fellow Manchester natives James have the chops to back the saddest man in rock 'n' roll.

Natalie Merchant with R.E.M.
'In My Tribe' (formerly with 10,000 Maniacs)
"In My Tribe" was one of the best of the '80s college alternative albums, and Merchant would fit in well with longtime friend Michael Stipe and his alt-rock cohorts.

Paul McCartney with Polyphonic Spree
'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' (formerly with the Beatles)
Sir Paul plays Beatles tracks at his solo shows, but to hear a full Beatles record performed live - even if it has to come without John Lennon or George Harrison - would be a treat for those way too young to have seen the Fab Four. The Polyphonic Spree (the Fab 40) have the flexibility and the right spirit to capture the Beatles at their best.

Axl Rose with Gorillaz
'Appetite for Destruction' (formerly with Guns N' Roses)
Between the top hats and the comical lifestyle, GnR was practically a cartoon band anyway. And if Axl performs as a cartoon, maybe he won't run out of breath midway through "Welcome to the Jungle."

If you go: Rakim and The Roots are at Blue Note New York Wednesday at 9 & 11:30. 131 W. Third St., 212-475-5892. Sold out.

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