17 Takes on Legacy of a Band By BEN RATLIFF, JON CARAMANICA and NATE CHINEN Published: August 13, 2012 FACEBOOK TWITTER GOOGLE+ E-MAIL SHARE PRINT SINGLE PAGE REPRINTS VARIOUS ARTISTS Enlarge This Image Related Blackberry Smoke Nude Beach Breaking news about the arts, coverage of live events, critical reviews, multimedia and more. Go to Arts Beat » A sortable calendar of noteworthy cultural events in the New York region, selected by Times critics. Go to Event Listings » Enlarge This Image Luca Zennaro/European Pressphoto Agency Marianne Faithfull covers Stevie Nickss Angel for the Fleetwood Mac tribute album. Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac (Hear Music) With few exceptions, multi-artist tribute albums are irritatingly patchwork, too sympathetic or too perfunctory, overthought or underthought. They age badly or arent worth a second thought. (The producer Hal Willner has created more than his share of the exceptions.) Sometimes they want to be liked by the wrong people: those receiving the tribute, not the audience. The respecters move respectfully toward the respected, suggesting that they are all in their own way, of course carrying on a similar spirit for new ears. Too much of this makes you gag. But heres such a tribute album that might claim your attention for a little longer. Just Tell Me That You Want Me, with 17 tracks by 17 artists mostly indie-ish, rock and electronic, many-striped, individually produced and organized into a whole by Randall Poster and Gelya Robb has Fleetwood Mac as its subject. Whats the spirit there, exactly? Fleetwood Mac was a strange entity. (Since sputtering out in the 90s, the band has reunited a few times, but without forward purpose.) It changed lineups frequently, in big and small ways. It made about four and a half very good records if you combine Fleetwood Mac and Rumours with the best of everything else using dry, wakeful rhythm; grandiose emotional bloodletting; and rich long-tone vocal arrangements. In the history of aesthetics the bands music doesnt represent a movement. It did grow into a kind of Los Angeles sound, though many of those songs were things in and of themselves, driven, decadent, argumentative, finely detailed in small spaces. Anyway, which songs are we talking about? Fleetwood Mac started in 1967 as an English band playing black music, and through various mellow moves became an American band playing white music the trebly, melodic, AM-radio slick mysticism of Rumours or the FM arty ramshackle of Tusk. How can all that be bowed to? At its best, Fleetwood Mac was an intense, obsessive band. The last third of Just Tell Me That You Want Me is completely skippable, but at its best stretches, new obsessions complement those of the originals. Washed Out the electronic artist Ernest Greene takes Straight Back, a post-disco dirge from the 1982 album Mirage, and fills it with more hiss and sheen. (There could be an album of Fleetwood Mac covers by people like him: lovers of reverb and twinkle and the sound of the human voice singing, Ahhh.) The New Pornographers claim Think About Me, from the super-pop phase, and replicate it closely, adding backward-sounding guitar phrases. The young, husky-voiced Trixie Whitley sings the early Before the Beginning, with Marc Ribot supplying clouds of slide guitar. Antony quietly and carefully sings Landslide with spare guitar backing. Karen Elson, produced by Beck, with Cole M. Greif-Neill playing various instruments, roughs up Gold Dust Woman: Los Angeles revisionist auteurs wishing Rumours were more like Tusk. A few of Fleetwood Macs contemporaries show up nicely. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top remakes Peter Greens Oh Well, from first-version Fleetwood Mac, dense and dirty, protecting and controlling his slow tempo. Marianne Faithfull does Stevie Nickss Angel, yielding to expanses of guitar, from Mr. Ribot and Bill Frisell, and vibraphone, from Kenny Wollesen. This is all very tasteful. Whats needed is defiance, which is what Best Coast provides with Rhiannon. Like so many of these cover versions, it borrows Mick Fleetwoods drum groove; the register and tone of Bethany Cosentinos voice comes reasonably close to Stevie Nickss, minus some witchiness. But it uses no minor chords, which defined the song as it was. More often, were used to hearing somebody finding the moody shadows of a happy thing. This does the reverse, and transforms an almost official piece of American art. BLACKBERRY SMOKE The Whippoorwill (Southern Ground) One of the finest tradition-minded country songs of this year is One Horse Town, a nervy document of small-town regret. First comes the harmonium, soothing and steady, interrupted eventually by a stoic guitar, a skeptical rejoinder. Soon the singer Charlie Starr arrives with real dissent: In the tiny town where I come from/You grew up doing what your daddy does/You dont ask questions, you do it just because. Pitting the desires of the individual against the pulls of tradition, and also the sustenance of the group, the song takes the familiar narrative of a rural oasis and upends it. The status quo is asphyxiating. Mr. Starrs resentment is palpable, in a way thats familiar from the outlaw country of the 1970s. With a whole lot of work and a little bit of luck/You can wind up right back where your daddy was, he concludes, cynical as all get-out.
Thunder only happens when its raining. Players only love you when they're playing - Stevie Nicks