Some us just can’t get enough of tribute albums. Especially those of us whom the younger generations classify as “older” folk (30+). It’s a way we can relive the really good music we grew up with, all the while pretending we know something about the newer artists the tribute albums are performed by. In some ways, I suppose that this is the only way we will ever connect with these modern-day musicians — and this is partially because some of these newer groups are so awful on their own that we can only stand them when they’re covering '80s songs.
In the case of New Tales To Tell: A Tribute To Love And Rockets, we get an excellent assortment of new covers from some of the alternate music industry’s best names. Among them are The Dandy Warhols, Blaqk Audio, The Flaming Lips, Puscifer, Monster Magnet, and Better Than Ezra. Overall, the album was a big hit with me: I absolutely adored the new electronic spin on these “old” favorites.
But my admiration for this album had to be earned following an uneventful start. At first, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that the producer and arrangers of New Tales To Tell were taught to eat their Brussels sprouts before they could dive in to the more appetizing food on their plate. At least that was the only explanation I could fathom for opening the album with an uninspired cover of “All In My Mind” by Black Francis. Honestly, the song has nothing going for it.
Fortunately, the next five tracks made up for that: “Holiday On The Moon” (Puscifer) quickly washed away the horrid taste of the previous song with its infectious electronic beat. “Love Me” (War Tapes) magically whisked me away to an atmospheric Goth lounge somewhere where I slow-danced the night away with an androgynous person. With “No New Tale To Tell” (Blaqk Audio), the beat picked up a bit and continued on through “I Feel Speed (Rock Mix)” (Dubfire), and “Inside The Outside” (The Dandy Warhols).
And then, disaster hit. I wish to go on record over my disappointment with The Flaming Lips’ cover of “Kundalini Express.” When I first heard about New Tales To Tell, I prayed that whomever the artist covering it would do the song the proper justice it deserves. It’s one of my favorite Love And Rockets songs, after all. Naturally, I was betrayed — and The Flaming Lips (normally a good group from what I gather — remember: I’m “old”) completely butcher it, replacing the core from the original with a warbled, wobbling sound that is reminiscent of a garbled and out-of-synch soundtrack from a '70s Italian romance flick. Ick.
Oh, well — the rest of the album is still pretty fucking great, from Sweethead’s “Life In Laralay” to Snowden’s “No Words No More” — with Better Than Ezra’s “So Alive” being one of the biggest standout songs from the entire project.
New Tales To Tell: A Tribute To Love And Rockets is a fantastic album. It will delight fans of dark industrial and electro-pop alike — and, hopefully, cause the uninitiated youngsters to check out the original Love And Rockets as well.
Shepard Fairey Interviews Daniel Ash from Danny Krug on Vimeo.