Many years ago--but not so many that I wasn't already a huge Neil Young fan--I came across and subsequently purchased this CD called The Bridge. It wasn't a Neil Young record, but it sure did have a bunch of his songs. "Hey Hey My My," "Cinnamon Girl," "Helpless," "Mr. Soul," and more, as a matter of fact.
It was, as it turned out, the first tribute album I had ever seen, and even though most of the cover versions on it weren't in the end all that good, The Bridge still has to be understood now as a very influential album, simply because of all the albums of similar format that have been released over the past 20 years.
Seems these days like you can't throw a cybernetic stick into the e-commercial air without hitting a tribute album. We've seen the country music tribute to ZZ Top, the industrial band's tribute to Metallica, the bluegrass tribute to Led Zeppelin, the indie tribute to The Carpenters, and even the reggae tribute to Pink Floyd. A short but intriguing article in the most recent issue of Spin, written evidently at the conclusion of an informal but thorough international survey, claims that there are at least 48 of the things dedicated to The Ramones alone.
Surely they're not all worth listening to. But, leaving my bad experience with The Bridge aside, I'd bet a lot of 'em are pretty good.
You can probably approach a tribute album the same way you'd approach its shorter-form analog, the cover song: the more slavish the imitation, the less likely it is that the end result is going to be worth playing more than once.
Like, I know they're big Yes fans and all, but the LAST band who should be covering "South Side of the Sky" is Spock's Beard. And I'm not quite sure what Iced Earth thought they could bring to "The Number of the Beast."
A good cover version should be, purely and simply, totally invested in finding a completely new way to say the same exact thing.
Camper Van Beethoven interprets Sonic Youth's "I Love Her All The Time" as a hoedown. The genius Richard Cheese reimagines "Man in the Box" as a rumba. And Doktor Kosmos gets freaky with the vocoder to reinvent the Pixies.
That's what I'm talkin' about. . . .
What goes around comes around, that's for sure. The Pixies were one of the bands featured on The Bridge, with their version of "Winterlong." And now they're the ones being tributed! More than once, too. The Wikipedia page that keeps track of such things lists no less than seven Pixies tribute albums, including the Scandinavian obscurity featured here.
La La Love You was produced in Sweden at a studio you can't pronounce by an engineer you don't know who recorded bands no American has ever heard of. The webpage where I first heard about the project says that "[a]ll the cover versions on this disc are performed with love, and all are decent, though (of course) none equal the brilliance of the originals they are based on."
I don't know about that, though. These days I'm diggin' on Doktor Kosmos' version of "D=r*t" as well as I ever did the Pixies' . . . .
La La Love You Pixies! A Tribute - 12 - Doktor Kosmos - Distance Equals Rate Times Time.mp3
223 kbps VBR mp3, up for 6 weeks (right click and save as target)
File Under: Covers where they forget the words