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A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac by Various Artists
Let’s be honest; a tribute album is really easy to get wrong. Whether it be The String Quartet Tribute to Limp Bizkit or Harptallica: A Tribute, fans who are musicians themselves can easily get carried away in their enthusiasm for another artist and miss the feel and excitement of the music altogether. Fortunately, that is not the case for the newly released Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac—with J. Mascis, St. Vincent, The New Pornographers, and Best Coast on board, how could it? With seventeen bands covering tracks, all genres and generations are represented in paying homage to one of the most unique and enduring bands in rock history.
Granted, the artists are up against some formidable material. Being asked to cover an institution like “Landslide” is no easy feat (on this album, Antony holds his own), and the tribute artists struck a decent balance between Stevie Nicks’ legendary vocal sounds and the styles they have become known for. The enlisted musicians sport styles that range on all sides of popularity and musical taste—Marianne Faithfull offers an interpretation from the Fleetwood Mac era, and electronically inclined bands like MGMT and Washed Out recreate the songs unlike we’ve heard them before. It’s a fine line between mimicry and reinterpretation, and the majority of artists nail it. The album kicks off with slower, more direct interpretations from Billy Gibbons and Co., The New Pornographers, and Best Coast, then takes an abrupt turn at electronic dream babe Lykke Li’s “Silver Springs”, giving way to more experimental tracks like Washed Out’s “Straight Back” and finally to a nine-minute interpretation of “Future Games” from MGMT.
Fans of Fleetwood Mac during their heyday of the ‘70s and ‘80s may not be the first to cheer for the latter tracks of the tribute—it’s undeniable that groups like Tame Impala aren’t going to bring the same sound that fans are used to, but it is important for all listeners to bear in mind that these groups are doing nothing short of what Fleetwood Mac did for their time. Most significantly with 1977’s “Rumours”, their music provided a shock to the public’s system using a rock sound that was both accessible in a world inundated with disco and punk alike, and was one of the first modern groups to introduce a woman as a serious powerhouse rock sound (Chrissie Hines of The Pretenders also comes to mind). They innovated with their sound and ended up having a hand in forming the sound of their generation and the genre, similar to artists like St. Vincent and Washed Out define today in their respective genres.
Even if it’s only to hear how eerily similar The Kills’ Alison Mosshart can sound to Stevie herself, Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac is worth a listen for fans of the group and of the seventeen groups that made the classic tracks their own. When it takes that many groups in almost as many different genres from all generations paying homage, I can’t help but think this compilation made Stevie Nicks smile as the legendary group charged into their forty-fifth year.