Talking Heads and Little Feat’s Lowell George tribute albums: The reviews

The usual tribute album dilemma continues.
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The tribute albums in modern music (in all shapes and forms) have been around for a while, and according to some accounts, they started back in the fifties with the likes of Lawrence Welk, who kept up creating albums with his orchestra of popular songs at the time.

Without going that far back, the real creation of tribute albums in pop (and particularly rock music) picked up sometime in the late eighties, with even special record labels initially created for such purposes.

The themes for such albums can take various shapes and forms - from tributes to specific artists, certain complete albums, and even whole genres. At the same time, the involved performers would belong to a genre (say, all punk) or they would involve a wide spectrum of artists from different genres, making them, at the same time, an intriguing, but also an uneven experience, particularly in their quality. One characteristic of tribute albums sticks out, though - there are not many out there of them that would satisfy all the listeners all the time.

Reviewing the Talking Heads and Lowell George tribute albums

The two most recent tribute albums show all of the good (and not so good) characteristics of tribute albums, particularly that ‘all the listeners, all the time’ one.

Stop Making Sense - Everybody’s Getting Involved

There might be a few Talking Heads tribute albums out there, but none have had such a buzz created about them than this latest one, with a specific theme devoted to one of the best live music documentaries out there, The Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense. It had something to do with the Talking Heads themselves and their great concert film, but also with some big pop and rock names involved - Miley Cyrus, The National, Lorde, and Paramore.

With all the buzz, this tribute album is oh-so-characteristic of most other tributes around there. It varies quite in genre take on the original songs, forming a total variation to a total recreation, but then in what will suit each listener.

On the other hand, you can’t fault the quality of the performances, it just all falls down to what you may, or may not like. Oh, and it is in no way recreating the live setting of the original (film and album), as all the tracks seem to have been studio recordings.

Next. Overlooked 1980s. Overlooked albums from the 1980s. dark

Long Distance Love - A Sweet Relief Tribute To Lowell George

Now, this tribute album is a somewhat different beast. Devoted to Lowell George, one of the exceptional songwriters, guitarists, and vocalists who never got the full recognition they deserved while they were still around (as was the case of his still-running, exceptional band, Little Feat) it doesn’t include that many big names, except Elvis Costello, and fan favorites like Dave Alvin and Jonathan Wilson (George’s daughter Inara is here too).

On the other hand, the stylistic variation (which is present) is much more uniform, but then so is the quality of the performances and takes on George’s original songs. In many ways, this tribute can serve both as an endearing reminder for devoted fans, as well as a good enticement for those not so familiar with Lowell George (or Little Feat) to pick up on his work.

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