Various Artists - 2012 Who Are You: An All Star Tribute To The Who

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ARTIST: Various Artists
ALBUM: 'Who Are You' - An All Star Tribute to The Who
LABEL: Cleopatra
SERIAL: CLP 8931
YEAR: 2012

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image image

LINEUP: Various - refer individual song reviews,

TRACK LISTING: 01 Eminence Front * 02 Baba O'Riley * 03 I Can See for Miles * 04 Love Reign Over Me * 05 My Generation * 06 The Kids Are Alright * 07 Won't Get Fooled Again * 08 Anyway Anyhow Anywhere * 09 I Can't Explain * 10 Behind Blue Eyes * 11 Magic Bus * 12 Who Are You * 13 Pinball Wizard * 14 Squeeze Box * 15 Bargain * 16 The Seeker

RATING: image

Background

Just a few months ago Eric reviewed a tribute album to Supertramp that was also released by the Cleopatra label.

This powerhouse record company has made a living out of producing this kind of fare and with their latest tribute to The Who they've gone all out in securing some fairly big names.

Normally I'd steer well clear of any tribute album, but I can honestly say I was curious to hear what these musicians did with this set of mostly tried and tested Who classics.

Some familiar names are on hand, including the ubiquitous Joe Lynn Turner, who has been on every tribute album ever made I think.

This isn't a total loss however and there's some interesting combinations thrown together to give this a certain element of listenability, but little more.

The Songs

Normally reviewing an album track by track is something I tend to avoid, but with the slew of tracks and artists on offer it's the only way to properly break this album down:

'Eminence Front' - The pairing of John Wetton and Derek Sherinan makes perfect sense, but the inclusion of K.K. Downing is a bit peculiar for a song like this. But Downing is the star, as his trademark soloing adds some heaviness that the original never had, as Pete Townshend seemed opposed to guitar use in 1982. Everyone is in good form and because of the guitar work I might be inclined to listen to this more than the original.

'Baba O Riley' - I could do without hearing this song ever again, but its inclusion was inevitable. Handled by veteran prog rockers Nektar and Jerry Goodman of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, it's just a routine retelling of the original that resumes my dismay for tribute albums.

'I Can See For Miles' - Much better is this cover, with MC5 legend Wayne Kramer tearing it up on guitar, with vocals sung by Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders. While it's completely faithful to the original it at least has an element of heaviness that The Who's version had way back in 1967.

'Love Reign Over Me' - There's no cover by any musician, no matter who it is, that could ever come close to the original, one of the greatest songs ever written. On paper this lineup looks formidable; Carmine Appice, Huw Lloyd-Langton (R.I.P.), Rick Wakeman and, Joe Elliot. They put in an admirable effort, but all it does is make me want to hear Roger Daltrey belting it out. An exercise in futility.

'My Generation' - Dave Davies guitar work is the best thing about this one, a raucous version of the untouchable anthem, given suitably punkish delivery by Knox of The Vibrators.

'The Kids Are Alright' - Danish rockers The Ravonettes give the Mod classic a psychedelic reworking, different perhaps, but somehow forced and hardly compelling.

'Won't Get Fooled Again' - The Sweet play things straight down the line, with nothing to separate it from the original. Strictly for the most die-hard of completists.

'Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere' - Todd Rundgren sticks to the ferocity of the trailblazing original, with a mid-60's production deal in place and some explosive stick work from Carmine Appice. Not bad at all.

'I Can't Explain' - Iggy Pop features on the almost fifty year old classic, again with production that is faithful to the original, with the jangly guitar tones that Townshend mastered.

'Behind Blue Eyes' - This was another obvious choice to be covered, with Pat Travers sounding impassioned as he does his best Daltrey imitation. I'm beyond burned out of the song so it's a trial to sit through.

'Magic Bus' - Here we have Peter Noone, Tony Banks and Ginger Baker hard at work, with Noone fooling me into thinking this is actually Daltrey. Like most of the songs the production is geared towards the 1968 original, which leaves it devoid of anything new despite the talent involved.

'Who Are You' - Country artist Gretchen Wilson teams up with Randy Bachman for a mundane cover which scales zero heights. I listened only to see if Wilson sung 'who the f--- are you', which she doesn't unfortunately.

'Pinball Wizard' - The unoriginal song selection continues, with Terry Reid and Brad Gillis involved here. You can tell they're trying hard, but who really wants to hear this anymore?

'Squeeze Box' - By this point of the album it's hard not to be overwhelmed by tedium and total apathy, so the attempts of John Wesley and David Cross are overlooked at best. I'm shocked they didn't do a typical John Entwistle song like 'Boris the Spider' or 'My Wife' but then again this is hardly a rarity.

'Bargain' - This has a bit more going for it, with .38 Special, Ted Turner (Wishbone Ash) and Ian Paice teaming up to spice this increasingly insipid album up. It's good to hear Paice drumming on a Keith Moon track, but no drummer could ever come close to Moon's recklessness behind the kit, even Paice.

'The Seeker' - Last but not least is the much awaited appearance of Joe Lynn Turner, ably supported by Leslie West. It's exceedingly heavy due to West and Turner puts in a tough vocal delivery which is good for one listen. Like the majority of the album I can't say I'll be back for more.

In Summary

A nice try perhaps, but realistically this is just another pointless project when you really look at it closely.

The Who deserve the accolade, but the stale assortment of songs chosen is what agonizes me. Some imagination with the songs would have helped, but that's usually an alien concept to these kinds of albums.

Even if you've heard them ad nauseum stick with the originals. That's where the real magic lies.


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