Band tribute albums are to the turn of the twentieth century A.D. what locusts were to the turn of the twentieth century B.C. Indie labels swarm out of the vinylwork with compiled covers of everyone from the Pixies to the Clash. Still, if your average tribute is equivalent to an Egyptian farmer’s ruined crop, then Sub Pop’s newest tribute to the Kinks is a very stern message from God.
The question, then, is: “Is God’s message worth listening to?” At the risk of my firstborn, I’ll answer, “Yes, but possibly not for the reason He intended.” The only valid purpose of a tribute album, as far as I can tell, is to get the listener to ask of each band, “How in the hell can their song sound like this?”
In this regard, Give the People fails miserably. The majority of the artists on this comp produce Kinks songs that, though filtered, still sound undeniably like Kinks songs. When the Fastbacks or the Makers sound much more like the Kinks than, say, the Fastbacks or the Makers, I can’t help but feel a little let down.
What makes this album interesting, therefore, is hearing Seattle/Olympia bands produce tracks that sound nothing like themselves. The Murder City Devils’ version of “Alcohol” mutates its normal artsy punk/hard-rock into a cracked-voiced rock opera, while Mudhoney’s normal sludge-blues gets a peppy boost on “Who Will Be the Next In Line.”
I don’t think the world we live in would be poorer for lack of these tribute comps any more than we’d lament a lack of locusts, but at least heavyweights like Sub Pop can make the pestilence fairly enjoyable.
[DJ Fatkid sounds much more like DJ Fatkid than does, say, Jenne Raub]