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Re: Tribute Albums

Tribute Albums
June 24, 2020 08:29PM
I loved Ira's piece today! Some of these are in my collection of favorites (Dead Dog's Eyeball, Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye, I'm Your Fan, Sweet Relief tributes to Victoria Williams and Vic Chesnutt, Elektra's Rubaiyat, etc.). One that Ira didn't mention is the tribute to the Hollies on Eggbert Records, Sing Hollies in Reverse, which is debatably the greatest collection of 2nd/3rd wave power pop musicians in one place, ever. And it spotlights how good the Hollies' songs were, which is entirely the point. There are so many bad 1990s tribute CDs that it seems to be have been a marketing niche of entirely its own.
Re: Tribute Albums
June 25, 2020 09:51AM
> There are so many bad 1990s tribute CDs that it seems to be have been a marketing niche of entirely its own.

True enough. Some musicians have made it their stock in trade. The recently deceased guitarist Bob Kulick was involved in literally dozens of tributes to different old-school metal artists.
Re: Tribute Albums
June 25, 2020 03:17PM
The Dead Kennedys tribute album Virus 100 has some good covers. No Means No's a cappella version of "Looking Forward to Death", Les Thugs' wall of sound "Moon Over Marin" and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy "California Uber Alles" (with updated lyrics) are great.

Has anyone seen "Two Minutes to Late Night"? Apparently it is a comedy show that broadcasts from a bar, the novelty being they are a talk show that skews towards metal. The comedy isn't my thing but the music is pretty inventive. Invite indie metal musicians (I don't recognize most of them but I bet Michael Toland knows them all) and do cover versions of old rock chestnuts. With the lockdown, they retreated to their apartments and have put out some really awesome versions of Van Halen (with Shawna Potter from War on Women showing a surprising lighter side), Scandal (Potter acting even more goofy), Steely Dan, Weird Al, Springsteen (with Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg, who is also Mighty Max's son, guesting) among others. But the best was Chelsea Wolfe guesting for Ozzy's Crazy Train.
Re: Tribute Albums
June 25, 2020 04:02PM

My favorite tribute album was the [as far as I know] first Johnny Cash tribute recorded when he still had about a decade left in him. This is one of my favorite tribute albums, ever. All of the performances are great and the whole project is tied together by a consistent backing band for every singer. This lent the project a real unity.

I bought this as soon as it was released largely for the appearances of the Voice of the Beehive sisters and Stephen Mallinder of Cab Volt. Having Pete Shelley and Marc Almond were also benefits even if I did not collect those artists with the fervor that I had for CV and VOB. I was only familiar with about half of these songs and singers, but it works very well as one of my favorite tribute albums ever, and one that was released far ahead of the deluge that would happen in the 90s, when tribute albums stopped having any meaning. That it was a benefit for the Terrence Higgins Trust was only further in its favor and fully keeping in the inclusive and positive spirit of the album’s subject.

I actually had bought a 7″ of the original “One Piece At A Time” in 1976 as the novelty tune became Johnny Cash’s biggest hit during a long dry period in the 1970s following his greatest period of fame. I was less convinced by the emergence of Michelle Shocked in the late 80s. Anyone who would put a photo of themselves being brutalized by police at a riot certainly had some issues that held me at arms length, but she stuck pretty close to the blueprint of the original song here, so I could at least enjoy it for that. As it turned out, all of these songs sounded not too far from the original Cash sound with only the delivery of the vocalists lending each track its distinction.

No voice is more distinct to me than the deep, insinuating tones of Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire. This track was released a year before it all went pear-shaped for Cab Volt on the album “Groovy, Laidback, + Nasty,” so this stands as the last classic Mal track for a long time in my book! I would have never in a thousand years have imagined that I’d one day be hearing him sing a very reverent cover of the ultimate Johnny Cash classic, but it works for me like a fiend. What I would not give for an album of this sort of material from him.

Steve Mack was at this time the new American singer for That Petrol Emotion, whom I had not yet paid too much attention to yet. By the time that “Chemicrazy” was released, that would finally start to change, but his turn on the early Cash cut here is fine and was a good entrée to his style.

One artist that I had quite a bit of solo material from was Pete Shelley, who kept the “er” in his first name for this divergence far afield from the worlds of synth pop or pop-punk. Shelley’s vocal delivery never quite made a perfect fit with the genres that he had established himself with. What made those records striking was how out of place he sounded in those settings. Not so here! His tenor is exceptionally well-suited to country music and I have to say that like Mallinder, I’d have gone for a whole album like this from him.

Other singers who were perhaps just waiting for country music to swallow them up were Tracey + Melissa Beehive from VOB. Their honey-soaked vocals were only a hair’s breadth from marking them as country music queens to start with, so they fell into this early Cash classic with almost no effort being expended at all. Their harmonies were just lovely and this sits as my definitive version of this retelling of the story of the Arkansas flood that made a lasting impression on Cash as a child.

The one poor fit that manifested on this album, was having Mary Mary of Gaye Bikers On Acid tackling the novelty tune “Boy Named Sue.” The song was already fairly campy and Mary Mary shreds the accelerator on the floorboard of restraint, lending the song a heavy-handed delivery that lay there inert. Besides, if they needed more Grebo on this album, they would have done well to have gotten Clint Mansell of PWEI instead, who brought more intriguing subtlety [relatively speaking] to their cover efforts.

There would be other Johnny Cash tribute albums in the years to come. Primarily at the time when the singer’s fading health coupled with his straightforward albums of material with Rick Rubin had raised his profile considerably at the end of his life. But those tribute albums are just the sort of tony or exploitative tribute albums that give the whole exercise a bad name. Better that efforts like this are out there to redeem the not completely unworthy notion of a tribute album.

Former TP subscriber [81, 82, 83, 84]

For further rumination on the Fresh New Sound of Yesterday®
Re: Tribute Albums
June 27, 2020 01:14PM
I can't recall if it was a tribute but I had an album at one time called the Blasting Concept Volume II. The Minutemen (I think) cover VH Aint Talking bout Love. I think the Meat Puppets were on it as well, it was a curious lot of tunes. I need to look that up.
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