VARIOUS ARTISTS

Tribute to Aerosmith: Not the Same Old Song and Dance

(Cleopatra)

ZERO STARS

Most of us have come to expect very little from tribute albums. If it was so great the first time, why redo it? But there is the occasional pleasant surprise when someone comes up with a refreshing take on an old favorite, creating a completely new listening experience. Sadly, this is not the case with Tribute to Aerosmith, just one of many inexplicable tribute collections released by Cleopatra Records. Why, oh why, do we need a bunch of tribute songs that merely sound like more competent versions of the covers done by that band at your cousin's wedding?

Do we really need Ronnie James Dio singing "Dream On"? Ronnie seems to struggle with the words, overemphasizing the vowels and drawing out the syllables: "The past is guh-aw-ahn/It went buh-ayyy, la-ah-ike dusk to dooawwwn/Isn't that the woooay-ay-ayyy/Everybody's got their dues in life to puh-ay-ay-ayyy...." Even with these added inflections, Ronnie doesn't even attempt to hit those Steven Tyler high notes at the end of the chorus. And Yngwie Malmsteen's lead guitar histrionics merely detract from the original... well, dreaminess of the song.

The credits on this record read like a who's who of heavy metal/guitar rock has-beens: members of Tesla, Warrant, Slaughter, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Night Ranger, etc. All the songs are done in the same bland, over-produced manner, belying the word "Not" in the album's subtitle. Geez, even staying within the hard-rock genre, couldn't they get, say, Joan Jett to do "Big Ten Inch Record," or how about Judas Priest's Rob Halford doing "Lick and a Promise"?

In our current, retro-happy times, it's still a rarity to find worthwhile cover songs. This album brought to mind the video for Run-D.M.C.'s 1986 cover of "Walk This Way," in which Tyler, Perry, et al. feign shock and disgust at the butchering of their song on the other side of the wall. If any of Tribute to Aerosmith's songs were made into similar videos, I can only imagine the members of Aerosmith looking at their imitators with giant yawns, drooling into their O'Doul's in boredom.

This brutally pointless recording sent me running for my old, scratched and warped Aerosmith albums. The only possible reason I can imagine for listening to Tribute to Aerosmith is to heighten your appreciation for the original songs. MELODY MOSS

THE SMALL FACES

The Darlings of Wapping Wharf Launderette

(Castle)

****

I figger, generally, most Americans don't know too much 'bout the Small Faces, pre-Rod Stewart, if at all, as the band made relatively... uh, "small" stateside impact. So... um, to make the Small's tale short fer y'all, the foursome began as soulful, jitter buggerin' Mods, ace faces as it were, for Decca Records. As prevailing trends shifted, the group grew a little more hair, dulled their sharp Mod image, changed labels -- to Andrew "Loog" Oldham's Immediate Records -- and phased gracefully into pop-sike, without embarrassin' themselves. Eventually, they fractured, and replaced spirited frontman Steve Marriot with the bluesy Ronnie Wood 'n' Rod the Sod, and were known simply as the Faces. Okay?

By the way, this term "pop-sike," er... "pop-psych" means, tho' I HATE usin' the term, '60s "psychedelia" tainted... dosed with, or, depending on your attitude, seasoned sweetly with pop "hooks," and generally more popular with Anglo-influenced "trippers." Like, as opposed to better known hippie-dippy "West Coast" sounds -- the Jefferson Airplane, or the heavy, non-commercial "blues" of self-indulgent Hendrix types and prog-o-licious excessives like Pink Floyd. Oh... please be mindful this definition of "pop-sike" ain't etched in stone, and is open to your subjective interpretation.

Welp, in "Greener" circles, our four smallest-of-heroes' Mod-to-sike periods are held in the highest of regard, AND it's their pop-sike action which is the subject of this anthology. I know, I know... I can hear y'all sighin', "Christ... not ANOTHER Small Faces anthology." No shit; there's been far too many knock-off collections in the past few years, but the madness ends right damn here! Fact, I HOPE you waited to buy, 'cause Darlings is, without question, the BEST! I swear, it's flawlessly compiled -- comprising nearly alla the Immediate label material ('67-'69), less the poorly mastered live LP tracks and "re-channeled" for-shit-sound Decca tracks, as added to the Autumn Stone LP.... In other words, there is NO crappy PADDING! Shit, all the tracks, this time, were hand-picked by the band and mastered in true stereo! Oh well, I s'pose you can toss out or trade back any other "anthologies," tho' SAVE the double Decca "complete", 'cause this Darling's the absolute KEEPER... that is, if you ain't got a hand fulla wunners fer original wax! MIKE NIPPER


IN STORES 9/21

50 Cent, Power of the Dollar (Columbia)

Yolanda Adams, Mountain High, Valley Low (Elektra)

Agnostic Front, Riot, Riot, Upstart (Epitaph)

Ian Astbury, Natural Born Guerrilla (Beggars Banquet)

Jon Brown, 70 Years Coming (Acid Blues)

Buckethead, Monsters and Robots (Virgin)

Cardan, Hey Young World (Tommy Boy)

Natalie Cole, Christmas Album (Elektra)

Consumed, Hit for Six (Fat Wreck Chords)

Chris Cornell, Euphoria Morning (Interscope)

Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach, and Bill Frisell, The Sweetest Punch: The New Songs of Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach, Arranged by Bill Frisell (Universal)

The Derailers, Full Western Dress (Sire)

Dream City Film Club, In the Cold Light of Morning (Beggars Banquet)

The Frank & Walters, Beauty Becomes More than Life (Red Ink)

Fu Manchu, King of the Road (Mammoth)

Nanci Griffith, The Dust Bowl Symphony (Elektra)

Ben Harper, Burn to Shine (Virgin)

Hefner, The Fidelity Wars (Beggars Banquet)

Jay-Z, Backstage Live... A Hard Knock Life (Def Jam)

Kelis, Kaleidoscope (Virgin)

Mark Lanegan, TBA (Sub Pop)

Liberator, Worldwide Delivery (Epitaph)

Love as Laughter, Destination 2000 (Sub Pop)

lunetns, My Little Star (Zero Hour)

Mephiskapheles, Might-Ay White-Ay (Koch)

Mint Condition, Life's Aquarium (Elektra)

R. B. Morris, Zeke and the Wheel (Koch)

Marc Nelson, Chocolate Mood (Columbia)

New Grange, New Grange (Compass)

Nonchalant, For All Non-Believers (MCA)

Our Lady Peace, Happiness... Is Not a Fish You Can Catch (Columbia)

Queensryche, Q2K (Atlantic)

Shack, HMS Fable (Sire)

Jessica Simpson, Sweet Kisses (Columbia)

Skycycle, Ones and Zeros (MCA)

Luke Slater, All Exhale (Mute)

Stereolab, Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (Elektra)

Tarras, Rising (Rounder)

Gina Thompson, If You Only Knew (Elektra)

Jon Tiven Group, Yes I Ram (Red Ink)

Druha Trava & Peter Rowan, New Freedom Bell (Compass)

Type O Negative, World Coming Down (Roadrunner)

Westbam, We'll Never Stop Living This Way (Mute)

The Why Store, Live at Midnight (Fuel 2000)

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