Various Artists: New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love & Rockets

Say this for New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love & Rockets: at 18 tracks, it is one of the most thorough tribute albums we’ve seen come down the pipe in a while, possibly ever. While this makes for a longer listen than is probably necessary, it stands as a testament to Love & Rockets that so many bands – and so many different kinds of bands, at that – were eager to contribute. Black Francis does his Black Francis thing on “All in My Mind” – it should come as no surprise that the band’s 1986 breakthrough Express is the most covered album, with every song but two appearing here – and the Flaming Lips flip “Kundalini Express” inside out, downplaying the drum track and guitar while running the vocals though what sounds like an old ELO-era voice processor. Better Than Ezra, of all bands, does a straight but effective version of “So Alive,” and Chantal Claret teams up with No Doubt drummer Adrian Young to turn “Lazy” into a frisky striptease. Funny, then, that a tribute album featuring 18 songs would not include some of the band’s best-known tunes; “Haunted When the Minutes Drag,” “Yin and Yang the Flower Pot Men,” “Sweet Lover Hangover” and “Redbird” were all skipped over in favor of deep cuts, and while that’s a diehard fan’s wet dream, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher from a label standpoint. Still, it’s hard to argue with the results, which hit a lot more often than they miss. (Justice Records 2009)

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