New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love and Rockets
July 28th 2009
Though I might be loathe to write a review about a freaking tribute record, which is often more or less a “best of” album sung by people who have no business doing so, New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love and Rockets is pretty damn cool. In some circles it might do you a service to be able to list off which Love and Rockets tunes to think are best, but let’s be honest, no one really obsesses over them. We recognize a song here and there, but the fact of the matter is we are far more likely to say, “Oh that’s who sings this song, I never knew.” They are like The The; a perfectly lovable band that music geeks know just to know, but are otherwise not excited…and I love The The.
The beauty of this tribute album is that the 99% of Love and Rockets songs you don’t know are given life by a myriad of artists who, while not necessarily improving on the original, have the sensibility to make the song relevant in context to modern music. It is not as if they are reissuing a stale post-goth, post punk Brit rock sludge, no this is a project of a different order. It is the reimagining of a body of work that has certainly thrived below the surface in the minds of many musicians, but has never really maintained itself in pop culture or geeky conversation. At best this release will reacquaint music consumers with a great band, at worst it will merely be a blip in a music world that has turned to simmer. Good music and those that produce it have after all become so ephemeral.
For those of you who don’t know Love and Rockets, here is a brief biography. Former members of Goth icons Bauhaus formed Love and Rockets named after a comic of the same name in 1985, releasing three records in three years (’85-’87), another in ’89, and far fewer records release periodically in the ‘90s. The band called it quits in 1999, only to do what every other 80s band has done, reunite for Coachella and Lollapalooza in 2008! Their best known song is So Alive which hit #3 on Billboard and #1 on Modern Rock Tracks. They are, as you probably guessed, from England.
Highlights of the albums are Snowden’s No Words No More, Lossy Coils’ and Ian Moore’s Sweet F.A., A Place to Bury Strangers’ The Light, Film School’s An American Dream, War Tapes’ Love Me, Pucifer’s Holiday on the Moon, Black Francis’ All in My Mind. Other artists that contribute include The Stone Foxes, Frankenstein 3000, Blaqk Audio, Dubfire, The Dandy Warhols, The Flaming Lips, Sweethead, Monster Magnet, VEX, Chantal Claret, and Better than Ezra, who scored the task of performing So Alive, but who also unfortunately decided just to blandly reproduce the original. Typically one shouldn’t try and fix something that isn’t busted. However, there is nothing wrong with reinvoking what has been forgotten using a modern medium and a modern voice.
Love and Rockets
A Place to Bury Strangers
The Stone Foxes
The Dandy Warhols
The Flaming Lips
Better than Ezra