- Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute To Fleetwood Mac
- Various Artists
The thing about a tribute album to Fleetwood Mac is that the songs of the Go Your Own Way people have always been intertwined with their lives and complicated inner-band loves. The iconic material is not so standalone. But it is not even just that. Fans attached their own circumstances to the outpourings of Stevie Nicks and the others. "Like a heartbeat, drives you mad," Nicks sang, "In the stillness of remembering what you had, and what you lost."
Some of us were in the shine of our lives when Fleetwood Mac rode the FM dial and soared platinum-disc high. Stuff was summer music, all year long. But Just Tell Me That You Want Me, from the same curators who a year ago brought us Rave On Buddy Holly (a commendable salute to the genius Texas hiccupper), isn't an exercise in nostalgia. Rather, like the best tribute albums, instead of being a retread or a retreat, it is a mission to rethink and rehear the originals. Can you deal with that? Are you open, or are you closed?
The 17-song release (plus bonus tracks Hold Me by the L.A. sister act Haim, and The Green Manalishi by the psychedelically inclined Entrance Band) begins with an instrumental written by Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac's guitar-playing co-founder. Albatross is rendered by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis, who respectfully admire the original's haunting, cinematic feel. It's only a little over four minutes long, but it feels like forever – and that is meant favourably.
Another Green-written number from 1969, Oh Well, is heavier fare, with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons going purplish into the blues. Excellent cowbell dangling happens. Gibbons croaks like he's swallowed his beard, and the whole thing screams for a Quentin Tarantino zombie movie. It's the harshest and most devastating of shrugs: "Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to – oh, well."
Then comes the sunny Best Coast, who work with hand-clapped beats and bopping girl-group pop on Rhiannon, lightening up the original and representing the California side of Fleetwod Mac's duel citizenship. Stacking it next to the deep-in-the-cellar blues preceding it is what some people call artful juxtaposition. Others might call it jarring. Oh well.
What I would call the New Pornographers' version of Think About Me is bright, colourful and just a stitch twee – an irresistible thrum, as was the Christine McVie-sung original. "Baby, once in a while, think about me," is the lightly suggested petition, from a lover on the more giving side of a relationship.
And by all means, let's think about McVie, who resists Fleetwood Mac reunions. Two of her songs appear here, compared to 10 by Nicks, four by Green, two by Lindsay Buckingham and one by the late Bob Welch (Future Games, which receives a synthetic, softly cathartic treatment from MGMT).
Highlights include the ethereal Swedish songstress Lykke Li, who sings blue-green on an echo-laden Silver Springs, an elegant curse set upon an ex-lover (Buckingham), issued by Nicks – "Time casts a spell on you, but you won't forget me."
Most poignant is Antony Hegarty, the high-voiced talent who warbles affectingly on the acoustic-picked Landslide, another penned by Nicks. "Can I handle the seasons of my life?" is the question. It's a song about growing up. And that never gets old, even if we do.
MORE NEW RELEASES
Researching the Blues
- Redd Kross
- Three and a half stars
Three and a half starsThat "we're getting uglier every day" is the point of the song Uglier, a blistering strut of power-popping rock from a band making its first album in 15 years. Uglier every day, sure, except that some look better at the school reunion than others – take a bow Redd Kross, still lean, tight and loud after all this time. While the title track staggers and stomps like the Hives afflicting the Box Tops, things move in more melodically Sloan-like ways elsewhere. Researching the blues, then. While the rest of us put away our books, Redd Kross has kept up its study. Brad Wheeler
- Based on a T.R.U Story
- Island Def Jam
- One and a half stars
In many ways, 2 Chainz is hip-hop's Jose Bautista: After languishing in anonymity, one minor adjustment (a leg kick for the Jays slugger, a name change for the artist formerly known as Tity Boi) gave their careers new life. After adopting his new nom de plume, the 35-year-old dropped a revelatory verse on the star-studded Kanye West-helmed single Mercy, earning him fresh-start hype. Too bad, then, that 2 Chainz is as charmless and derivative as Tity Boi, dropping preschooler rhymes on his "debut," abased by his own superstar guests and by big, trunk-rattling beats that ride him, instead of the reverse. "Deuce and 'Ye, we like Snoop and Dre," he drawls on Birthday Song, and it's an improbable claim. When rapper Snoop Dogg changed his name to the reggae-smoked Snoop Lion, it made some sense – it was a fracturing in musical narrative. But these, here, are the same old street bangers. What's old is new is old again. Adrian Lee
Kingston Story: Deluxe Edition
- Vybz Kartel
- Three and a half stars
Ambitious dancehall albums are rare – most are just grab-bags of singles – and when Vybz Kartel released one last year, it was quickly eclipsed by his being jailed on a murder charge. Vice's reissue of Kingston Story should return the focus to his little-seen melancholy side. Though the Jamaican star built his career on the back of a sexy, dangerous persona and literally hundreds of songs rich in witty patois-heavy wordplay, like Freestyle ("Me a action Stallone – Judge Dredd; Them a cartoon – Beavis, Butthead"), Kingston Story mixes them with wistful cuts like Yuh Love. Yet Kartel and producer Dre Skull never slip into maudlin territory, balancing the salty with the sweet to create the tastiest dancehall/pop hybrid in at least a decade. Dave Morris
- Academy of Ancient Music and AAM Choir; Richard Egarr, director
- Harmonia Mundi
- Two and a half stars
Unlike the music of his celebrated father, Christopher Gibbons's ouevre has languished in libraries, unperformed. A chance mention in Samuel Pepys's diary alerted Academy of Ancient Music director Richard Egarr, who spent a dozen years tracking down repertoire. Gibbons the younger is, he says, the missing link between William Lawes and Henry Purcell and an "English musical treasure." Perhaps. The sacred vocal music is imaginative and intense and wears well (though not as well as Gibbons père), but fusty singing does it no favours. Egarr has revitalized the AAM; it's time to work on the choir. The string players are better advocates for the suites, especially the remarkable F major fantasia, but we'll pass on Gibbons's awkward if intriguing organ voluntaries. One can only hope for more vibrant performances of the anthems — or it's back to the library with Gibbons. Elissa Poole