Review : Various Artist - Just Tell Me That You Want Me: Tribute To Fleetwood Mac
PitchforkAn eponymous record is the kind of thing most bands get just one shot at. Fleetwood Mac had two. The first, Fleetwood Mac, was the band's 1968 debut, the product of what was then a London-based blues-rock four-piece fronted by guitarist/vocalist Peter Green; the second came out nine albums later, in 1975, and solidified their iconic lineup. Up until then, the group had cycled through members while gradually shifting into a more stable pop-rock unit. Christine McVie joined in 1970 and afew years later they landed in Southern California, where they hooked up with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, folding in the meticulous pop theatrics and smoky confessionals that would make for three of the band's best-loved albums-- Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, and Tusk-- which tend to overshadow what came before.
So if you're noted music supervisor Randall Poster and you're looking to pay tribute to a major rock'n'roll band for a Starbucks-sold cover-songs compilation, there are much less slippery subjects than Fleetwood Mac. Just Tell Me That You Want Me aims to span Fleetwood Mac's whole existence, not just the culturally ambient early Buckingham/Nicks stuff but also the murky hinterlands of the band's 17-album catalog. Given that scope, it's a mission that, when limited to just 17 tracks, is all but destined to fail.
Granted, Poster is one of the best in his field: He's been behind all of Wes Anderson's soundtracks, as well as Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, for which he wrangled three dozen artists' to take on the Bob Dylan songs over two discs. His Rave On Buddy Holly homage (released last year, also via Starbucks' Hear Music label) was serviceable, but drew from a catalog curtailed long ago. Fleetwood Mac's songs, though, are already so fully formed-- not just intricately-wrought as studio productions but, as with many of the selections presented here, fully ground into the collective mind of its target audience. Covers are tricky things; there's not so much a thin line between stenography and blasphemy as a wild rocky gulf of bemusement and horror and inexplicable pleasure. ...full text
PopmattersGiven the mythos created by the band’s in-fighting, love affairs, and line-up changes over the span of four-plus decades, it’s little wonder that young people continue to discover Fleetwood Mac in karaoke bars and in their parents’ dens after blowing off dust on hardly-played LP records. By including several indie contemporaries alongside already-established rock and roll heroes, Just Tell Me That You Want Me will likely provide yet another way for both younger and more nostalgic generations to connect with Fleetwood Mac’s back catalog.
Just Tell Me That You Want Me leads off with “Albatross” by the Lee Ranaldo Band with a little help from J Mascis, proof that Fleetwood Mac’s corpus is in very capable hands throughout the album. Although the spooky, instrument cover from Fleetwood Mac’s earliest incarnation is beautifully done, one wonders why the “day-job” bands of Ranaldo and Mascis didn’t contribute to the compilation—can you imagine Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr. working through renditions “Go Your Own Way” or “Say That You Love Me?”
Unsurprisingly, Billy Gibbons & Co.’s offering, the Peter Green-penned “Oh Well” is one of the better tracks to grace the collection. The veteran ZZ Top guitarist offers a slowed-down, sludged-up rendition of the song that retains the bluesy texture of the original while still managing to sound fresh. Gibbons’ selection is a natural one, but it’s done with just enough panache to both honor and reinvent the song, breathing new life into the iconic lead guitar and vocal parts while still keeping the melody recognizable....full text
NmeFleetwood Mac were always cool. Their recording sessions had more sexual tension than a book club reading of Fifty Shades Of Grey. The band members treated private jets like Boris Bikes. They tried to credit their dealer on an album sleeve. They recorded an album, 1977’s ‘Rumours’, that’s sold over 40million copies. Always, always cool. And in 2012 The Mac are having a moment again, what with dangerously ace all-girl trio Haim confessing a debt and Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino turning fangirl. Now comes the tribute album with NME faves Tame Impala and MGMT putting a spin on their favourite Fleetwood chestnut.
Of ‘Just Tell Me That You Want Me’’s 17 tunes, only seven weren’t written by Stevie Nicks. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham gets a couple of dedications as Tame Impala faithfully replicate ‘That’s All For Everyone’ with a psychedelic hue and The Crystal Ark take on ‘Tusk’, which fails to out-weird the original, which was recorded live with a marching band in an empty football stadium. Keyboardist Christine McVie is given some love from The New Pornographers, who make ‘Think About Me’ sound dirtier than it is. Original guitarist Peter Green, meanwhile, has ‘Albatross’ taken on by Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, but they can’t add to the magnificence of the chart-topping instrumental despite elongating it by a minute. Meanwhile, MGMT bring the vocoder weirdness on ‘Future Games’, written by Fleetwood Mac’s most underrated bod, Bob Welch. It swirls about in Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden’s rainbow spirals before collapsing in a heap of bleeps and fuzz.
But in the main it’s all about Nicks’ 1975-to-’82 heyday. It’s hard to fault any artist who falls for her intoxicating songwriting, all romance, witchiness and self-mythology, but tapping into it is tricky. The Kills misread ‘Dreams’, and Karen Elson never owns ‘Gold Dust Woman’. But when someone gets it, the results are remarkable. Antony Hegarty doing ‘Landslide’ is heartbreaking, Craig Wedren and St Vincent spook up ‘Sisters Of The Moon’, and Washed Out do a remarkable job of making ‘Straight Back’ seem as if a hazy beach scene was what Nicks was going for all along. It’s not what Best Coast were going for on the piano plink-plonk of ‘Rhiannon’, which seems slight until Bethany’s vocal wins you over. But without doubt the album’s greatest moment belongs to Marianne Faithfull, whose own mythology is powerful enough to make ‘Angel’ her own. If you don’t already know the Mac, treat this as your way in. You won’t be coming out in a hurry....full text
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