A well-compiled covers set with some true standout interpretations.
Mike Diver 2012-08-02
Much like Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac have managed to bridge the divide between stadium-packing mainstream appeal and contemporary indie-scene credibility. Head to any All Tomorrow’s Parties festival and there’s a strong likelihood that a DJ will be spinning Rhiannon or The Chain to a swollen dancefloor (one writes from experience.)
So it was inevitable that a gaggle of above- and below-radar sorts from today’s indie world would eventually pay tribute. Just Tell Me… presents 17 cover versions of differing quality which don’t gel as a cohesive listen, but it’s not without standout interpretations.
The most divisive cover here is likely to be the closer, MGMT’s Future Games. Originally an elegant slice of subtly swaying rock, lathered in rich organ tones, the (recently deceased) Bob Welch-written number is transformed into a buzzing and chiming, squelching and sloshing affair which melds fuses-blown psychedelia with alien transmissions from a distant star. Imagine Air covering The Flaming Lips covering Zappa covering Kraftwerk covering Fleetwood Mac… and that’s the sound of your brain bursting.
Elsewhere, performances are rather closer to their source material. Best Coast’s Rhiannon is a little sunnier than the 1976 original, but such is singer Bethany Cosentino’s affection for the band she’s channelling that she can’t help but deliver an (albeit great) karaoke impersonation of Stevie Nicks.
The New Pornographers’ version of Think About Me sticks close to Christine McVie’s blueprints, although the Canadians inject extra bounce into proceedings. The biggest hits are dutifully handled: British number one Albatross is respectfully handled by Lee Ranaldo and J Mascis (anyone anticipating a righteous squall will be disappointed); and The Kills’ scuzzy delivery of Dreams can’t disfigure its innate pop charms.
Lykke Li’s Silver Springs might actually outshine the B side to 1976’s Go Your Own Way (the A side being Fleetwood Mac’s first stateside top 10 hit). The Swedish singer’s cover is an exception, though, as much here serves to complement the originals rather than better them. Which, given the amazing legacy of Fleetwood Mac, might’ve been an impossible tusk anyway… Sorry, task.