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Tales From Yesterday
A Testimonial Dinner
Things Go Better With Coke
This is an Orange
Thousand Days of Yesterdays
Top 25 Heart Seekers
A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield
Værsgo
We're a Happy Family
Working Class Hero
7 Worlds Collide


Sweetheart 2005  see: Samples etc.

Tales From Yesterday

'Tales From Yesterday'

Tales From Yesterday  (1995,  76.29)  ****/½

Robert Berry:
  Roundabout
Stanley Snail:
  Siberian Khatru

Steve Morse
  Mood for a Day
Magellan:
  Don't Kill the Whale
Steve Howe & Annie Haslam:
  Turn of the Century
Shadow Gallery:
  Release, Release
World Trade:
  Wonderous Stories
Cairo:
  South Side of the Sky
Patrick Moraz:
  Soon
Enchant:
  Changes
Peter Banks:
  Astral Traveler
Steve Morse:
  The Clap
Jeronimo Road:
  Starship Trooper

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Tales From Yesterday was one of five 'tribute' albums released in the mid-'90s by US prog indie Magna Carta and, as far as I understand, is easily the best. A bit of background: Magna Carta appears to be heavily connected with one of the first bands to appear in the US prog resurgence, Magellan, who released the classic Hour of Restoration (*****) in 1991, although they've never managed to equal its impact on subsequent releases. All five tribute albums featured essentially the same pool of musicians, in or out of their respective bands, although quality varies wildly. I haven't heard the Jethro Tull album, To Cry You a Song, but the others are Supper's Ready (***½) (Genesis), the rather pointless The Moon Revisted (***) (Pink Floyd's Dark Side complete) and the dreadful Working Man (**) (Rush). The label don't seem to've learnt their lesson on the Rush front, with another dodgy-looking effort, Subdivisions, due any time.

However, unlikely though it may seem, Tales From Yesterday is really very good indeed. Now, you may not think that Yes would be the easiest band to reinterpret, but many of the bands (both established and one-offs) here have done exactly that, with aplomb. Robert Berry's Roundabout and Magellan's Don't Kill The Whale (in the style of 90125) are standouts, while Steve Howe has a good stab at a different take on Turn Of The Century (from Drama), along with Annie Haslam of Renaissance. There are a few 'why did they bother' tracks, with Enchant's carbon-copy of Changes, and World Trade's not-far-off-it Wondrous Stories, but there isn't a single track here that actually offends me, which is praise indeed in the murky world of 'tribute' releases.

So, "Where's the Mellotron?", I hear you cry. Well, 'Stanley Snail' (a one-off including various members of Giraffe, who can be heard on Progfest '94, above) slightly rearrange Siberian Khatru, with a cheeky quote from Heart Of The Sunrise at the end. Looking closely at the credits discloses the information that a certain (and much-missed) Kevin Gilbert plays keys on the track. Gilbert was known as an analogue-keys man, and sure enough, the 'Tron flute'n'strings part from the song's quiet middle section is reproduced, possibly with a more adventurous string part added. That would appear to be it for the track and the album, but for the Yes fans out there, I can genuinely recommend this as that rarest of things, an excellent tribute album.

See: Yes | Kevin Gilbert | Steve Howe | Annie Haslam | Patrick Moraz | Enchant

A Testimonial Dinner

'A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC'

A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC  (1995,  45.45)  ***½/T

Freedy Johnston:
  Earn Enough for Us
Spacehog:
  Senses Working Overtime
Crash Test Dummies:
  All You Pretty Girls
The Verve Pipe:
  Wake Up
Rembrandts:
  Making Plans For Nigel
Sarah McLachlan:
  Dear God
Rubén Blades:
  The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul
P. Hux:
  Another Satellite
They Might Be Giants:
  25 o'Clock
Terry & the Lovemen:
  The Good Things
Joe Jackson:
  Statue of Liberty

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I'm not sure of the motivation behind A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC, released at the height of the band's 'strike' at Virgin; maybe to raise funds? Don't know. Anyway, it's a pretty good selection of takes on excerpts from their back catalogue, most barely indistinguishable from the originals, unfortunately. Plenty of well-known names, including The Crash Test Dummies, Joe Jackson, Sarah McLachlan and They Might Be Giants (who tackle XTC alter-egos The Dukes of Stratosphear's 25 O'Clock), plus lesser-known powerpop god P. Hux (a.k.a. Parthenon Huxley). And Terry & the Lovemen...? None other than XTC themselves (Andy Partridge's voice is unmistakeable), making the unusual step of appearing on their own tribute album with the excellent The Good Things, a track I can't trace anywhere else in their discography. About the only track to take serious liberties with the originals' arrangement is Rubén Blades' jazzy take on The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul which, while not something I'll probably play too often, at least injects some originality into the proceedings.

Mellotron on just one track, with cellos on Sarah McLachlan's take on Dear God from Dave Kershaw, also included on McLachlan's Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff, although it's not the most overt use you'll ever hear. All in all, then, a decent tribute album, despite (because of?) not messing too much with the originals. Largely slightly pointless, but a pleasant listen anyway.

See: XTC | The Dukes of Stratosphear | The Crash Test Dummies | Sarah McLachlan | P. Hux | They Might Be Giants

Things Go Better With Coke

'Things Go Better With Coke'

Things Go Better With Coke: Sixties Coca-Cola Commercials, 1965-69  (1996,  72.10)  **½/½

The Seekers #1
The Seekers #2
Fontella Bass
Tom Jones #1
Tm Jones#2
Petula Clark #1
Jay & the Americans
Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders
Jan & Dean
Freddie Cannon
Gary Lewis & the Playboys #1
Gary Lewis & the Playboys #2
Petula Clark #2
Petula Clark #3
The Supremes #1
The Supremes #2
The Troggs
Lee Dorsey #1
Lee Dorsey #2
Lesley Gore
The Vogues
Roy Orbison
The Drifters
Ray Charles #1
Nancy Sinatra
Joe Tex
The Moody Blues #1
The Fortunes
Lulu #1
Lulu #2
The American Breed #1
The American Breed #2
Jay & the Techniques #1
Jay & the Techniques #2
The Box Tops #1
The Box Tops #2
The Bee Gees
The Tremeloes
Aretha Franklin #1
Aretha Franklin #2
Sandy Posey #1
Sandy Posey #2
Sandy Posey #3
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
Marvin Gaye
Brooklyn Bridge
B.J. Thomas #1
B.J. Thomas #2
Carla Thomas
Jerry Butler
Carla Thomas & Jerry Butler
Vanilla Fudge #1
Vanilla Fudge #2
The Moody Blues #2
The Moody Blues #3

Ray Charles & Aretha Franklin #1
Ray Charles & Aretha Franklin #2
Ray Charles #2
Aretha Franklin #3
Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart #1
Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart #2
The 5th Dimension #1
The 5th Dimension #2
Gladys Knight & the Pips #1
Gladys Knight & the Pips #2

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

1996's Things Go Better With Coke: Sixties Coca-Cola Commercials, 1965-69 is pretty self-explanatory, although there seems to be some confusion over the exact contents of the official release, as various bootlegs exist, some of a similar length with partially different contents, some claiming to be 'complete'. Whichever version you hear, they're all a tribute to rampant commercialism and artistic sellout to a notoriously unhealthy and vigorously-promoted product, although I doubt if any of the artists concerned saw their connivance in that light. On the offchance that you've never heard any of Coke's '60s ads, they mostly involve the artist concerned singing a rewrite of their current hit, mostly containing a variant on the line 'things go better with Coca-Cola', catchy enough that impressionable adolescents (and younger) would quickly associate chirpy, singalong melodies with a soft drink so acidic that it can reputedly be used as a rust remover. Hey, that's capitalism, folks...

This collection, maybe surprisingly, contains a good few contributions from British bands, including Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders, The Troggs, Tom Jones and The Moody Blues. Of course, only the last-named particularly interest us here, with two of their three contributions containing Mellotron string (and brass, on the latter) parts; I'm ashamed to say that I can't spot exactly which of their songs have been rewritten for these jingles, but you're probably not going to buy this for them alone unless you're a Moodies fanatic who has to have EVERYTHING. So; a vaguely interesting curio, but not something I could see many people listening to more than once.

See: Tom Jones | Jan & Dean | Moody Blues | The Fortunes | Bee Gees | The Tremeloes | Aretha Franklin | Marvin Gaye

This is an Orange

'This is an Orange'

This is an Orange: A Compilation of Scandinavian Progressive Rock  (1995,  66.37)  ***½/TT

Ravana:
  Wounded
Crome Yellow:
  Deathwish/Autumn
Fruitcake:
  How to Make it
Ab Intra:
  Fatherland
Crack of Ice:
  Dusty Highway
Winterland:
  Shadow of My Mind
Manticore:
  The Maiden

Villblomst:
  Blackest Cat in Town (live '78)
Folque:
  Fanfare ('80)
Orchid Garden:
  Moonchild
Anekdoten:
  Cirkus (live)

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

This is an Orange is, as the saying goes, as rare as rocking-horse shit, or maybe a moment of Emersonian good taste. Anyway, you're simply not going to find this (or at least, an original), as for some bizarre reason, it was pressed in a limited edition of 250 copies, which sold out immediately, probably for the otherwise unavailable Anekdoten track, even if it is 'only' a live Crimson cover. It's actually a pretty good compilation, covering various bases, from the almost blues-rock of Crack of Ice's Dusty Highway and intelligent hard rock of Winterland's Shadow Of My Mind through to the more familiar strains of the understated but really rather good Fruitcake, the overrated Manticore and, of course, Anekdoten. Fruitcake's contribution is the only track (I believe) that is otherwise available, and a couple (the slightly dull Villblomst and the surprisingly good Folque) date from, respectively, 1978 and 1980.

As for the album's Mellotron content, the Manticore track, The Maiden, is different from the album version with extra added Mellotron, while Orchid Garden's Moonchild (another Crimson cover!) has a choir intro and flutes throughout, played by future White Willow man Jan Tariq Rahman. Finally, Anekdoten's fabled take on Cirkus is taken from a gig in Oslo, January '94, when they played no fewer than three actual Crimson numbers, plus their version of Holst's Mars, in the days before they had enough of their own material to fill an entire set. It's a rockin' version, utilising their MkV 'Tron well, doubling up strings and brass on the 'chorus', as on the original.

So; if you can find someone to copy this for you (as I did), it's worth hearing, with several otherwise unavailable worthwhile tracks on board, two of which are also worth it on the 'Tron front.

See: Manticore | Anekdoten

This is the Town: A Tribute to Nilsson, Vol.1  see: Samples etc.

Thousand Days of Yesterdays

'Thousand Days of Yesterdays: A Tribute to Captain Beyond'

Thousand Days of Yesterdays: A Tribute to Captain Beyond  (1999,  63.53)  ****/T½

Pentagram:
  Dancing Madly Backwards (on a Sea of Air)
Rise & Shine:
  Armworth
Standarte:
  Myopic Void

Lotus with Brian Robertson:
  Mesmerization Eclipse
The Flower Kings:
  Raging River of Fear
The Quill:
  Thousand Days of Yesterdays (Intro)
The Quill:
  Frozen Over
Five Fifteen with Nik Turner:
  Thousand Days of Yesterdays
  (Time Since Come and Gone)

Locomotive Breath:
  I Can't Feel Nothing (Part I)

Zello:
  As the Moon Speaks (to the
    Waves of the Sea)
  Astral Lady
  As the Moon Speaks (Return)

Locomotive Breath:
  I Can't Feel Nothing (Part II)
Orchid Leaves:
  Starglow Energy
ZoomlenZ with Willie Daffern:
  Sweet Dreams
Qoph:
  Dansar Galet Bakåt
Abramis Brama:
  Förtrollande Förmörkelse

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

You know you're a British rock fan when you've never heard Captain Beyond... Legendary in their home country, the US outfit actually featured a Brit, embittered ex-Deep Purple vocalist Rod Evans, despite his cabaret-esque singing style (the reason he was replaced by the far more suitable Ian Gillan). Their albums have never sold in particularly appreciable quantities, sadly, although fans tend to be, well, fanatical regarding their achievements. What did they sound like? Progressive psychedelic hard rock, actually, making it all the more bemusing that I haven't properly discovered the delights of their limited catalogue before.

In 1999, Swedish prog/psych label Record Heaven compiled and released Thousand Days of Yesterdays: A Tribute to Captain Beyond, essentially a re-run of the band's eponymous debut album, albeit in extended form, sticking one track each from their second and third albums on the end as bonuses, plus Swedish versions of two first album tracks for good measure. Without having the original album for comparison, I have to assume that most of the versions here are jammed-out takes on the originals; they're certainly mostly a good deal longer, anyway. Frankly, there isn't a bad track here, although the quality of the source material helps greatly, of course. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that this could be seen as a primer for the band's work for fans of current prog; a rarity in the murky waters of the tribute album scene.

Standarte's Michele Profeti adds Mellotron flute and choir parts to Myopic Void to good effect, while Locomotive Breath's I Can't Feel Nothing (Part I) features an uncredited major choir part that doesn't sound sampled, particularly in those late '90s days of really shitty samples. This is a great album, although I'm sure fans will tell you how much greater the originals are. Next task: buy the first two Captain Beyond albums.

See: Standarte | Flower Kings | Five Fifteen | Zello | Qoph

Top 25 Heart Seekers

'Top 25 Heart Seekers: Praise Songs, Vol.2'

Top 25 Heart Seekers: Praise Songs, Vol.2  (2002,  126.41)  **/T½

I Will Rise Up
Praise Adonai
Hallelujah (Your Love is Amazing)
Breathe
You Are My King
Forever
God of Wonders
Let it Be Said of Us
That's Why We Praise Him
O God Our Help in Ages Past
Surrender
I Will Sing
Not My Will
The Trade

Jesus My Lord, My God, My All
Your Name is Holy
Your Love, Oh Lord
I Will Not Forget You
Wonderful Cross
What the Lord Has Done in Me
Forever My Love
Here I am to Worship
Freedom
Be Glorified
Let My Words Be Few
Your Love is Extravagant
Meet With Me
How Great is Your Love (live)
We Will Stand (live)
We Believe

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

Top 25 Heart Seekers: Praise Songs, Vol.2 is, er, the second (and hopefully last?) volume in Maranatha's various artists series, a two-disc set featuring a pool of musicians who play on various tracks. Its contents seem to be sourced from traditional hymns, standards and original material, mostly played in that 'American roots' style that seems to fit Christian albums better than anything more contemporary, its most irritating feature being the reverence with which the various singers treat the somewhat anodyne material. I have to say, the title is somewhat contentious; what's with the armament-inspired 'Heart Seekers' bit, then? Sorry, I forgot: the American Christian right and guns go hand in hand, don't they?

The actual songs are pretty much what you'd expect: the usual lyrical guff spouted over sporadic not-too-offensive backing (bit of a bonus, that), better examples including the sparse Breathe, all female vocal and low organ notes, the reasonably rocking Forever, the Cars-esque I Will Not Forget You and Freedom's country hoedown, although I'm not sure what to think of the set's techno-lite effort, Your Name Is Holy. OK, I am. I have one major bone to pick with the lyricists, above and beyond my usual 'oh Christ (pun intended), it's an album full of God-botherers': Wonderful Cross. Yeah, right; I can imagine that's just what their mythical saviour (not to mention the untold thousands also executed in this particularly brutal fashion) thought as he (allegedly) dragged a massively heavy wooden construction through the streets before being, for fuck's sake, nailed to it, hauled into the air and left to die of clinical shock, blood loss and dehydration in the burning desert sun. Christianity is a sick, warped death cult. There, I've said it.

Rick Ochoa plays Mellotron and Chamberlin throughout, with what sounds like Chamby cellos and strings on That's Why We Praise Him and Mellotron (?) strings on Surrender, Not My Will and The Trade, although his top use is the very upfront flutes that open Let My Words Be Few. Unless you're an outraged Christian who's found their way here by mistake, you're not going to like this any more than I did. Had it been half the length and stuck to the rootsier material, it might've been halfway listenable, but as it is, it quickly sinks into a slough of despond, as, indeed, did I. Only one genuinely worthwhile tape-replay track, too, so you're not exactly going to go out of your way on that account.

Transformers Roll Out  see: Samples etc.

A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield

'A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield'

A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield  (1994,  75.34)  **/½

Gladys Knight:
  Choice of Colors
Steve Winwood:
  It's All Right!
Repercussions & Curtis Mayfield:
  Let's Do it Again
Lenny Kravitz:
  Billy Jack

Whitney Houston:
  Look Into Your Heart
Bruce Springsteen:
  Gypsy Woman
Eric Clapton:
  You Must Believe Me
Isley Brothers:
  I'm So Proud
Branford Marsalis & The Impressions:
  Fool for You
Tevin Campbell:
  Keep on Pushin'
Aretha Franklin:
  The Makings of You
B.B. King:
  Woman's Got Soul
Rod Stewart:
  People Get Ready
Narada Michael Walden:
  (Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go
Phil Collins:
  I've Been Trying
Stevie Wonder:
  I'm the One Who Loves You
Elton John & Sounds of Blackness:
  Amen

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

There seem to be, essentially, two kinds of tribute albums:

1994's unimaginatively-titled A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield (shouldn't that be the subtitle to something like 'Darker Than Blue'? There - I've titled it myself, without even trying) falls into the latter camp, unsurprisingly, although it might've been an awful lot better had it fallen into the former. Of the seventeen artists involved, eleven are black soulsters/bluesmen, the rest being, to a man (and they're all men), multi-platinum selling, mostly British white singers, all of whom can be guaranteed to a) deliver an insipid version of a classic and b) sell copies, since this kind of tribute has nothing to do with such old-fashioned concepts as 'art' and everything to do with shifting 'units'.

As a result, the album's a drab, pointless, cynical marketing exercise, unworthy of Curtis Mayfield (then still alive, although severely disabled)'s considerable talent. Most of the versions here are pretty much straight re-readings, sometimes accompanied by vile '80s drum and synth sounds, just to add to the album's appeal. There are actually two best tracks, in case you were wondering: Narada Michael Walden's funked-to-the-max (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below, We're All Going To Go and the incomparable B.B. King's Woman's Got Soul, which he delivers with his customary élan, although it's (sadly) followed by one of the worst, as Rod Stewart mauls People Get Ready to a messy and untimely death. Phil Collins' dreadful I've Been Trying (could've fooled me) defies description, so I won't even try.

Just the one 'Tron track, from Lenny Kravitz, then at the nearest he got to a Mellotronic height, with some rather tepid strings from Henry Hirsch on an overly-'soulful' and overlong version of Billy Jack. All in all, then, unless you're a Mayfield enthusiast, you really don't need to track this one down. If you want to hear the songs, buy a Curtis compilation.

See: Lenny Kravitz | Bruce Springsteen | Isley Brothers | Aretha Franklin | Stevie Wonder | Elton John

Værsgo

'Værsgo 2'

Værsgo 2  (2005,  58.25)  **½/½

Warwick Avenue:
  Nanna
Ataf Khawaja:
  Hubertus
Johnny Deluxe:
  Joanna
Ida Corr:
  Det er i Dag et Vejr
Nephew:
  Byens Hotel
Østkyst Hustlers:
  Det Rager Mig en Bønne
Rasmus Nøhr:
  Blaffersangen
Mikael Simpson:
  Sylvesters Drøm
Juncker:
  Hvis Din Far Gi'r Dig Lov
Klondyke:
  Guleroden
Hush:
  Maria
Maria Frank:
  Er du Jol Mon!!!
Allan Vegenfeldt:
  Den Rige og den Fattige Pige
Tue West:
  De Fjorten Astronauter

Epo-555:
  På en Gren i Vort Kvarter
Peter Sommer:
  Jacob den Glade
PowerSolo:
  Christianshavns Kanal

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

2005's Værsgo 2 is a tribute album to Danish artist Kim Larsen's iconic, much-loved 1973 release Værsgo, apparently a far cry from his main band Gasolin's work, being a light singer-songwriter effort. The Danish artist-only tribute album varies enormously in quality and style, as you might expect, veering between pop/rock (Warwick Avenue, Juncker, Hush), slightly 'alt.' (Ataf Khawaja, Ida Corr, Østkyst Hustlers) and even commercial hard rock (Johnny Deluxe). But is it any good? I found it all rather dull, but then, I'm not a fan of the original album (or have even heard it) or the Danish mainstream, so I was never going to, really.

The album's only Mellotronic contribution is from Tue West, who adds cellos and strings to his take on De Fjorten Astronauter, for what it's worth. I can't honestly recommend this to any but mainstream-loving Danes, frankly; I mean, a Danish tribute album and they didn't even ask Tim Christensen? What?

See: Hush

We're a Happy Family

'We're a Happy Family'

We're a Happy Family: A Tribute to the Ramones  (2003,  48.37)  ***/T

Red Hot Chili Peppers:
  Havana Affair
Rob Zombie:
  Blitzkrieg Bop
Eddie Vedder, Zeke:
  I Believe in Miracles
Metallica:
  53rd & 3rd
U2:
  Beat On The Brat
Kiss:
  Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio
Marilyn Manson:
  The KKK Took My Baby Away

Garbage:
  I Just Wanna Have Something to Do
Green Day:
  Outsider
The Pretenders:
  Something to Believe in
Rancid:
  Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Pete Yorn:
  I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
The Offspring:
  I Wanna Be Sedated
Rooney:
  Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Tom Waits:
  Return of Jackie & Judy
Eddie Vedder, Zeke:
  Daytime Dilemma (Dangers of Love)
John Frusciante:
  Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

We're a Happy Family was pieced together by the inimitable Rob Zombie and Johnny Ramone, not so long before the latter joined his erstwhile ex-colleagues Joey and Dee Dee in the hereafter (bet they're all having fun there...). Like pretty much all multi-artist tributes, it's the proverbial curate's egg, being a mixture of pointlessly faithful copies (The Offspring, the risible Green Day), no-hoper attempts at reworking the material to fit the artist's style (The Pretenders, Garbage), and the occasional gem, where it all comes together to produce a genuinely new take on a familiar piece of music. I never thought I'd hear myself say it, bus Kiss' joyous brass-driven take on Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio is a highlight (no, really), as are Pete Yorn's (admittedly slightly predictably) melodic, Byrdsian take on I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend and, of course, Tom Waits' bonkers Return Of Jackie & Judy.

As for the Mellotron (who'd a' thunk it, on a Ramones tribute?), it had to come from Marilyn Manson really, didn't it? He turns The KKK Took My Baby Away into a bizarre industrial dirge with shrieky 'Tron strings from his then-current bassist, Tim Skold, swelling up nicely near the end of the song, which isn't to say the track's actually any good, sadly. In fairness, the bulk of the album's (mostly) not actually painful, although much of it passes by without really impinging itself on your consciousness (Metallica? the Chilis? U2, for fuck's sake?).

So; stick to the first three classic Brudders albums and a compilation of the best bits from the rest of their career (I have) and give this rather pointless effort a miss, although there are a handful of tracks actually worth hearing. One thing I can say about it is that everyone involved sounds like they mean it (even U2), which makes a nice change. Maybe everyone really does love the Ramones? Let's hope so.

See: Red Hot Chili Peppers | Pearl Jam | Marilyn Manson | Garbage | Pete Yorn | Tom Waits | John Frusciante | U2

Working Class Hero

'Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon'

Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon  (1995,  65.33)  ***/½

Red Hot Chili Peppers:
  I Found Out
Mad Season:
  I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier
Candlebox:
  Steel and Glass
Blues Traveler:
  Imagine
Screaming Trees:
  Working Class Hero
The Minus 5:
  Power to the People
Magnificent Bastards:
  How Do You Sleep?
Flaming Lips:
  Nobody Told Me
Super 8:
  Well, Well, Well
Cheap Trick:
  Cold Turkey
Collective Soul:
  Jealous Guy

Sponge:
  Isolation
Toad the Wet Sprocket:
  Instant Karma!
Mary Chapin Carpenter:
  Grow Old with Me
George Clinton:
  Mind Games

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon contains exactly what it says on the box: reinterpretations of some of John's solo oeuvre, by a bunch of mid-'90s 'names', some of whom still mean something, some of whom don't. Of course, how much one likes a tribute album, more often than not, depends on how much one likes the original artist. In this case, I sit fairly firmly in the 'solo stuff's not that great, frankly' camp, although this album has introduced me to a handful of impressive tracks, not least Steel And Glass, (although I've actually heard it before, as it's on one of his Mellotron albums, Walls & Bridges).

Of the fifteen tracks here, the otherwise fairly awful Candlebox's Steel And Glass, pick-up band The Magnificent Bastards (with Scott Weiland on vocals) tackling the anti-Paul diatribe How Do You Sleep? and Cheap Trick's incendiary Cold Turkey are about the best. The remainder are largely a collection of also-ran versions of songs, notably Blues Traveler's Imagine, which manages to get some of the chords wrong (twats). Despite being loved by millions, [heresy alert! Heresy alert!] the bulk of these just don't sound that great with the benefit of hindsight. I know it's not just me, but why did none of The Beatles do anything half as good on their own? I seem to recall a phrase about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, or somesuch... Essentially, the versions that treat the source material with the least reverence tend to be the best and vice versa.

One Mellotron track, with Matt Serletic from Collective Soul playing pretty full-on strings on Jealous Guy, although hardly enough to make a purchase worthwhile for that alone. Overall, then, a so-so tribute album with a few excellent tracks and very little Mellotron. So now you know.

See: John Lennon | Red Hot Chili Peppers | Screaming Trees | Minus 5 | Scott Weiland | Flaming Lips

7 Worlds Collide

'7 Worlds Collide: The Sun Came Out'

7 Worlds Collide: The Sun Came Out  (2009,  94.12)  ***/½

Johnny Marr, Neil Finn:
  Too Blue
Jeff Tweedy:
  You Never Know
Sharon Finn, Neil Finn:
  Little By Little

Neil Finn, Liam Finn:
  Learn to Crawl
KT Tunstall, Bic Runga:
  Black Silk Ribbon
Don McGlashan:
  Girl, Make Your Own Mind Up
Johnny Marr:
  Run In The Dust
Liam Finn:
  Red Wine Bottle
Phil Selway:
  The Ties That Bind Us
Lisa Germano:
  Reptile
Ed O'Brien, Neil Finn:
  Bodhisattva Blues
Jeff Tweedy:
  What Could Have Been
Neil Finn:
  All Comedians Suffer
Glenn Richards:
  Duxton Blues
KT Tunstall:
  Hazel Black
Tim Finn:
  Riding the Wave
Phil Selway:
  The Witching Hour
John Stirratt:
  Over & Done
Bic Runga:
  A Change of Heart
Pat Sansone:
  Don't Forget Me
Don McGlashan:
  Long Time Gone
Elroy Finn:
  The Cobbler
[unknown]:
  3 Worlds Collide
Sebastian Steinberg:
  The Water

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

2009's 7 Worlds Collide: The Sun Came Out is technically credited to 'Neil Finn & Friends', although this seems to obvious place for it. It's actually Finn's second album under the 7 Worlds banner, following 2001's live 7 Worlds Collide, both charity efforts, all concerned donating their efforts for Oxfam. Available in one- and two-disc editions, the expanded version's obviously the way to go for Finnophiles.

As you can see, collaborators include Johnny Marr, members of Wilco and Radiohead, KT Tunstall and Lisa Germano, not to mention several Finns. Nepotism? I think Neil's allowed to bring his family in, especially as they all seem to be so obscenely talented. Unsurprisingly, the album's a bit hit-and-miss, better tracks including Finn and wife Sharon's duet on the Crowded House-alike Little By Little, Finn's All Comedians Suffer and son Elroy's eerie The Cobbler, although nothing here sounds out of place, or like it should've been quietly put to one side.

Finn (relatively) senior plays Chamberlin (and Jupiter 8) on Little By Little, although I'll be buggered if I can hear what he's doing with it. Steel guitar? Anyway, an utterly minimal tape-replay presence isn't a good reason to buy this, although some of the music may well be, not to mention that a proportion of the set's cover price goes to Oxfam.

Official site

See: Neil Finn | Crowded House | Wilco | KT Tunstall | Bic Runga | Radiohead | Lisa Germano


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