Tribute albums are a bit of a weird one. It’s kind of assumable that the target audience will be fans of the original band (all hail the Mac). However, this demographic are likely to be the first to run screaming and crying from slaughtered covers of their favourite songs. Don’t Tell Me That You Want Me largely features early Peter Green and Bob Welch era tracks, as well as a fair few from the more experimental 1979 album Tusk. Arguably with good reason: to release an album chock full of Rumours covers would be foolhardy. It’s the tenth bestselling album in the world; it would be safer and less painful to bend over, blindfolded, in a whip museum. It is always going to be physically impossible to cover one of the world’s most popular bands without pissing a few people off. So, whatever you think of MGMT, The Kills, Antony or any of the other artists featuring on Don’t Tell Me That You Want Me, you cannot deny that they have got some large, and probably hairy, balls.
Antony plays it fairly safe with his cover of ‘Landslide’. It’s pretty much identical to the original apart from being sung by a male singer and the ethereal quality to his voice gives it a sort of English Folk Revival sound. Inoffensive and pleasant to listen to. MGMT, on the other hand, clearly decided that the funky, sexy guitar and chilled vocals on ‘Future Games’ were a bit dated or something and so obliterated them completely. Instead, they’ve gone rather heavy on the synth. Initially interesting but the voice distortion thing is kind of unnecessary and the track gets dragged into Jeff Wayne, War Of The Worlds territory.
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is the perfect to guy to cover ‘Storms’ (off the album Tusk), a track seemingly attempting to come to terms with the highly strung, emotional fallout from Fleetwood Mac’s colossal Rumours. Will Oldham and Matt Sweeney leave their own stamp on the track without messing around with the original in a disrespectful way (MGMT, take note). With a Fleetwood Mac tribute album, there was always going to be a battle between the hipsters over who got to cover ‘Tusk’ using nothing but synthesisers. Crystal Ark won and they did exactly as expected, stripping away all of the excitement which comes from Mick Fleetwood’s savage tribal drumming and offering up something which sounds like the soundtrack to Pacman.
Arguably the worst track on the album is Best Coast’s cover of ‘Rhiannon’, which will make most Fleetwood Mac fans cringe and then die a little on the inside. Whilst the vocals on Best Coast’s track lack any real emotion whatsoever, that’s not its greatest sin. The piano part sounds like it was written for a digital camera advert, it really is horrible. As unfair as it is to compare a cover with the original, it is always inevitable. It’s really only necessary to listen to a few seconds of Fleetwood Mac’s performance of ‘Rhiannon’ on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1976 to see that Best Coast do not do this song justice. The best track on the album is as surprising as it is amazing. The Kills dared to attempt a cover of the anthem ‘Dreams’ and their ambition certainly pays off. Accompanied by a scratchy, tribal guitar crescendo and angry drumming, Alison Mosshart moodily growls the way Stevie Nicks would have done if she wasn’t such a smiley, nice, West Coast hippie. This cover contains all the angst and anger strangely absent from the original; Lindsay Buckingham would be quaking in his stupid, bohemian boots.
By Melissa Taylor
Dance Yrself Clean