Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tributes of discovery

At the moment I'm loving the starkly different personalities of the tributes/collaborations I've decided to delve in to. I'm loving even more, however, how they come to the same conclusion in the end - the lovely 'derivativeness' of music is not really something to be shunned, no matter how much the post-grunge era has made us cringe at the thought. Be it a full-blown orgy of musical talent (like Neil Finn's various 7 Worlds Collide projects), a posthumous blub fest of emotion (GW McLennan's tribute Write Your Adventures Down: A Tribute To The Go-Betweens), a rock out with your cock out unashamed re-embrace of the mullet (Standing on the Outside: Songs of Cold Chisel), or a black-arm-band view of a musical journey (Paul Kelly's steering of the Kev Carmody love-in Cannot Buy My Soul), the all aim to serve a purpose - explaining the musical journey in more depth.

Neil Finn's astronomical and ballsy idea of inviting a selection of some of contemporary music's superpowers to jam in a small country in the South Pacific and then top it off with a 7-night stint in Auckland started off this collaborative thought process for me. Unashamedly, I stumbled upon this by my obsession with Pearl Jam, whose lead singer Ed Vedder was one of the glittering ensemble of this first iteration of the idea. While Ed took me there, I was mature enough (I hoped) to absorb the other musical beings on display, and since established a strong bond with Johnny Marr and The Healers, as well as a growing appreciation for Liam Finn and a soothing soft spot for Lisa Germano. I've since learned this was redone just recently, and the second series may lead to an album of original songs. The concert, which can be downloaded here, has also opened my ears to the likes of Sebastian Steinberg's projects, a reborn evangelism for Bic Runga and a raised eyebrow regarding my apparent misinterpretation of KT Tunstall.

The collaborative vein on display above led me to eagerly anticipate the Valley Fiesta's hastily thrown together hotch-potch of a tribute for Grant McLennan shortly after he died a few years back. The original incarnation was a bitter disappointment, however, with 2 rather large (and rather unjustified) musical egos battling it out for the "he meant more to me" trophy of self-pity and uncomfortable public displays of sorrow. A couple of months later, Triple J was more prosaic in its approach and nailed together a fairly accurate cast of contemporaries whom you could honestly hear Grant's legacy. I was unable to make the concert on the night thanks to SatomiTiger's birthday celebrations (we were only in our 2nd week of courting, so it was a sacrifice which was I was justified in making), but have since devoured the recorded offering and the delicious interpretations of Grant's body of work by some of my current favourite artists. Sarah Blasko and Darren Hanlon's take on Hold Your Horses was what this was all about.

Move forward a little bit, and it's interesting to see that the musical snobbery of the Oz scene has forgotten the collective joke which was Cold Chisel. No longer the butt of anyone's jokes, current musos were seeing through the facade and reaching into the music which underpinned many a lazy Sunday arvo in the real Australia. Curiousity saw me pick this up, as well as a devotion to Augie March (which took on album track Janelle), but Troy Casser-Daley's owning Bow River has kept me enthralled - its naturalness taking me to the point of a new respect for both Chisel and this previously dismissed country star.

This then brings us to last Saturday's Cannot Buy My Soul: Songs of Kev Carmody gig at the Brisbane Riverstage. I'm happy to admit I followed Paul Kelly into this maelstrom of 1970s black-white musical politics, I took a whole lot more from it than just blind fan-worship. It was heady stuff and the gig itself, while not particularly comfortable (as articulated by NiteShok's spot on review in Mess+Noise), did raise a few eyebrows. Kev hammered home his points of where we've come in race relations, and while it did at times become slight evangelical, the music provided three massive stand-out moments: Steve Kilbey's dramatic delivery of Images of London, Troy Cassar-Daley (and his lovely ladies on backing vocals) with On The Wire and, as I'm sure many will attest to: The Drones' owning the entire amphitheater with River of Tears. Now, an admission is needed here - I've missed the boat on The Drones. For whatever reason, I never found them on my radar until very recently, but I plan on making up for that starting with this powerhouse of bottled up and flung out aggression which was Kev's tale of black deaths in custody. This shit was seriously real, and in the true spirit of tribute gigs, a great discovery of amazing Australian musical spirit.

You can pretty much feel the paint peeling from the walls, can't you? So, anyone got any thoughts on other collaborations or tributes I should check out?


Dr Yobbo said...

Showing my quasi-linear listening tastes here with my suggested tributes...

Couple of years ago a bunch of Strayan bands put together a tribute to the Gurus' album Stoneage Romeos, called (inevitably) Stoneage Cameos. What worked about it was that it was the album itself which was being tributed, and Wally Kempton who produced it was pretty clever in matching bands up to the songs he wanted them to cover. F'rinstance I Was A Kamikaze Pilot is, was and seems to always have been a Grinspoon song, You Am I own Tojo, ditto Even with Arthur, and the 'Bait do interesting things to My Girl (that'll start rumours.) I am biased, of course, because I love both the Gurus and most of the bands on that compilation.

Another in a similar vein but from a bunch of years back - Fusebox, the AC/DC tribute, again by a bunch of alternative bands. This one came out just as we were getting Triple J in my local area and I remember them playing the arse off Yothu Yindi's version of Jailbreak, which almost tops the original (close to blasphemy I realise) just through the way it turns the song into a blunt statement on Aboriginal deaths in custody - kind-of a companion piece to the Kev Carmody song you were talking about!

The Black Sabbath tribute CDs Nativity In Black (there were two) were pretty ORESUM - particularly Monster Magnet's version of Into The Void and Primus' take on N.I.B. - Les Claypool going approximately apeshit.

Re collaborations, Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes did a live album together about 10 yrs ago (long before the prospect of a full Zeppelin reunion was ever considered) - lots of Led Zep and blues stuff. Usually though those tribute/collaboration albums are patchy with only a couple of successful matches - for instance Dave Grohl's Probot project was pretty iffy but the track he did with Lemmy was as good as anything Motorhead have done since Ace of Spades. Likewise that soundtrack (was it Blade? Spawn?) with the metal-techno collaborations was a bit of a bust but Filter/Crystal Method doing 'Can't you trip like I do' was pretty epic. Foo Fighters version of Have a Cigar with Brian May on guitar - think that was the MI2 soundtrack - and Silverchair with Deniz Tek doing Radio Birdman's New Race would be my favourite one-off collaborations.

Jamin (AKA Blue Box) said...

How could I forget the Acca Dacca tribute? Prolly cos I was too busy sneering at it when it came out, being that I was uber cool and all.

I'll have to check out that Page/Black Crowes collab. Sounds like a match made in generational heaven.

Post a Comment

C'mon! 'Ave a go ya mugs.