Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Why Is The Word "Tribute" Associated With This Half-Hearted Souless Effort?

Mother of God! But the great lady deserved better than this! What were these twats thinking!!

Joni's masterpiece "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns", stands beside Bob Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks" as one of those albums from the mid 70's that never dates - and grows with each listen - to a point where you wonder why everyone everywhere isn't running around like headless chickens raving about it.

So what do we get? We get the 3 best tracks from "Hissing" chosen by Bjork (Boho Dance), Brad Mehldau (Don't Interrupt The Sorrow) and Elvis Costello (Edith & The Kingpin) and each is slaughtered, I mean absolutely wrecked - all subtlety, melody, lyrical brilliance lost to "reinterpretation". You have to hear what squeeky screwball Bjork has done to The Boho Dance - absolutely dire! And then we get a souless piano plinking instrumental of Don't Interrupt The Sorrow with the production value of a cat pissing in a bucket. Costello does jazz on Edith and it's just laughably bad!

It isn't all crap of course. There are moments. Prince's "A Case Of You" is done with soul by a soulster - and I love it - because you can at least feel his joy at her in it - and he doesn't do what most of the others have done - chosen pretty songs and wrecked them or made them banal. Emmylou Harris does a sterling version too of "Magadelene Laundries" and gets Joni's indignation and hurt for the girls in the song just right. Free Man In Paris fares worse, a jazz/US indie noodle tossfest from Sufjan Stevens and Annie Lennox (an artist I adore) does little but synth up Ladies Of The Canyon - again killing a lovely song. The album finishes with a workmanlike rendition of River by James Taylor - but it doesn't move you - and you only want to rush back to the originals to get this lame cack out of your head as soon as possible.

What's fundamentally wrong here is the ham-fisted way most of these artists have approached the songs. Which is unbelievable given the calibre of the people involved! And then what could have been? The choices missed, not even tried. How about Paul Simon doing a soulful rendition of "The Circle Game", Me'Shell Ndegeocello doing a slow funk version of "Car On The Hill", Gordon Lightfoot doing an acoustic "Urge For Going", Linda Ronstadt & Don Henley doing a modern heartbreak production of "How Do You Stop", Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush re-united for a delicate version of "Conversation", Mavis Staples and The Blind Boys of Alabama doing acapella on "Shadows and Light", Ryan Adams and Norah Jones dueting on a country version of "Both Sides Now", Mark Hollis & A Choir doing a gospel version of "For Free", Tinariwen and Willie Nelson doing an Eastern/World version of "Lakota"?? You get the picture! With a little imagination and effort - what a project this could have been!!

I would say - check the tracks out by short listens first - but apart from a few of them - avoid the whole project.

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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