18 Jun 2014

Some essential tribute albums...

In the nineties, the tribute album was all the rage. Whilst it's died out a bit, there's plenty to look back on. And as well as that, in recent years the tribute album has seen a slight reprisal. Here's five of the best...

WHORE: A Tribute to Wire
Who's on it? My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Godflesh, Lee Ranaldo
Wire were one of the most innovative bands of the punk and post-punk eras, and WHORE is a more than fitting tribute to them. The release features the last track My Bloody Valentine recorded before splitting towards the turn of the century, the cosmic sounding Map Ref 41N 93W. Of course, the Valentines' contribution is the highlight, but contributions from Lush and Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo don't go by without recognition. And Spasm's 12XU is every bit as brilliant as you'd expect. Rating: 9/10

The Psychedelic Sounds of the Sonic Cathedral
Who's on it? The Black Angels, loads of bands from the Sonic Cathedral Label
Sonic Cathedral is one of the best labels in the business at the minute, and this release is a personal favourite. It's a tribute to the 60's garage band, the 13th Floor Elevators, who were every bit as influential to the alternative music scene as The Beatles. It features an array of psychedelic and shoegazing bands, which you'd probably expect from 'the label that celebrates itself'. As you'd imagine, the collaboration between the amazing Black Angels and 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erikson is really something, whilst A Place to Bury Strangers' and Sarabeth Tucek's contributions are the other highlights. It's a really very fitting tribute to one of the greatest bands of the era. Rating: 7/10

N O F U C K I N G W H E R ENofuckingwhere: A Boston bands' tribute to Nowhere
Who's on it? A load of upcoming bands from Boston
This tribute to Ride's wonderful debut is one of the most dynamic on this list. It features an array of artists that are very dissimilar to the shoegazing style, but nevertheless remains one of the better tribute albums, which can be downloaded for FREE here. The highlights of this include Eldridge Rodriguez's accoustic Vapour Trail, The Chandeliers' Here and Now and the blistering opener, Seagull, which sounds just as glorious when done by Guillermo Sexo. It's made up of bands you're less likely to have ever heard of, but don't let that put you off, because it's a one-off that you should hear at least once. Rating: 8/10

Yellow Loveless
Who's on it? Boris, Tokyo Shoegazer, Lemon's Chair
Yellow Loveless is an all-Japanese tribute to one of the greatest albums ever released. Alongside it's sister record, the all-Korean Blue Loveless, Yellow Loveless was one of the most unorthodox releases of 2013. The main highlight is the offering from Boris, the ever-evolving Japanese experimental band. They offer a slow, powerful cover of Sometimes, which is one of the finest tracks on the 1991 original. The Tokyo based shoegaze band, Tokyo Shoegazer off two tracks; Only Shallow & I Only Said. Although they sound very similar to MBV's versions, they're a more than valliant effort at two songs that you'd imagine it'd be difficult to cover. One thing I can't get my head around is the punk-pop band, Shonen Knife's version of When You Sleep... but even that's worth a listen if you've never heard it. Rating: 9/10

Unpiecing the Jigsaw: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground
Who's on it? EVERYONE! Ride, The Bunnymen, Chapterhouse, Swervedriver, Wedding Present
Although there's been a handful of tribute to the Velvets, this is the most complete. The songs from my favourite album, White Light, are the most notable, as Salisbury's The Badgeman's sprawling 12 minute shoegaze cover of Sister Ray and Chapterhouse's Lady Godiva's Operation are two of the best cover versions I've ever heard. The Bunnymen's Foggy Notion ain't half bad either, and whilst Ride's European Son is good, it's nothing compared to their glassy cover of New Age on the Firing Blanks compilation. Unpiecing the Jigsaw is an incredibly comprehensive tribute to one of the greatest bands of all time, by some of the greatest bands of all time. Rating: 9/10

(Written by Calum Cashin)