Thursday, November 24, 2011

Various Artists: "(Ahk-toong Bay-bi) Covered" (album review)

It's a year of 20th anniversary tribute, including Q Magazine's album that honours the release of the last decent U2 album, Achtung Baby.

It's a star-studded cast that the mag assembles for the compilation.  Unfortunately, most of these bands (Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, The Killers, Depeche Mode) are well beyond their creative zenith.  It comes through on the music.  It sound like most of these acts are sleep-walking through the process, delivering performances that seem intent on merely mimicking the original.  Even Jack White takes the easy road.

More contemporary acts like The Fray and Glasvegas are similarly uninspired.  But that's to be expected since their own music is generally uninspired and bland.

The weakness of the covers may say just as much about the source material as it does about the terrible selection of artists.  It becomes quite evident quite quickly that unlike Nevermind, Achtung Baby has not stood the test of time.  The songs are incredibly dated, and not in a way that gets the nostalgic juices flowing.

There are some positive moments.  Gavin Friday plays the role of "The Fly" with sinister delight.  The usually boredom-inducing Snow Patrol add a surprisingly strong version of "Mysterious Ways" by slowing the tempo and stripping it down.  The iconic Patti Smith transforms "Until The End Of The World" into, well, a Patti Smith half-spoken song.

Once you separate the wheat from the chafe there isn't much left.  Even the fact that the proceeds go to charity doesn't make this worth your time.


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