The world's worst tribute album
I'm pretty sure the world doesn't need any more covers of songs by The Beatles. There are a handful of decent ones - a couple of transcendent ones - and far too many mediocre ones. But the world's worst tribute album has just been released - called "The Art of McCartney"; you had every right to hate it before you even heard it, that stupid title and an album-cover pitch telling you that it features "the world's greatest artists" should have been enough to send you over the edge. Did you know that Jamie Cullum was one of the world's greatest artists? I thought he was just the orange-boy for Harry Connick Jr (who takes a break from being an actor and reality TV judge to be here too - making Cullum's appearance somehow further redundant).
The problems with this tribute album are many - they run deep, from McCartney's nearly talentless son James appearing through sad attempts from Paul's contemporaries, people like Brian Wilson and Barry Gibb, Roger Daltry and Smokey Robinson. And Cat Stevens should be wanting another name change after what he does to The Long And Winding Road, in some sort of musical witness-protection scheme, though he's not the witness only the perpetrator of the crime.
And the finished efforts fall into two camps - boring retreads, po-faced earnestness in a same-as-the-original arrangement but served-up as overdriven bar-room rocker and then the truly dire. That's the gamut this runs.
You find yourself applauding people like Steve Miller and Dr John and Allen Toussaint for simply not embarrassing themselves - hardly a ringing endorsement. And then, by association, they have embarrassed themselves. For this is surely the world's worst tribute album.
Terrible chiefly because it did not need to happen - it seemingly serves no purpose.
Paul McCartney has craved a critical respect that was simply handed to John Lennon - arguably it was delivered with fatal force by a man named Mark David Chapman.
McCartney is the world's most successful songwriter but across the last 40 years it's been far too easy for people to pick at the weaknesses than to celebrate innate melodic grace, those deft songwriting skills. The best of his post-Beatles work deserves celebrating - and in a way that's happening now, with the sporadic reissue campaign (Wings At The Speed of Sound is the latest one I've reviewed).
But things like this just feed the machine - give credence to any of the complaints. Here McCartney's music sounds, for the most part, truly dire, insipid, bland. And (this time) it's not his fault!
That makes this the world's worst tribute album - to take the music from easily one of the most important post-war composers and reduce it to rubble. That's a f**king crime. And this album shouldn't have happened. A strange and ghastly insult - when it's trying (so hard) to honour the man instead. A seismic failure.
Have you heard The Art of McCartney? Click here to read my full review of the album.
And if you can suggest another candidate I'd be keen to hear what you think is the world's worst tribute album. Something that ends up proving the opposite, essentially, of its intended point.
Postscript: Aucklanders - I have a competition for you. Click here to be in to win a double pass to the screening of Nick Cave's 20,000 Days on Earth film with a Q&A featuring Cave himself.
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