Various Artists: Everybody's Getting Involved; A Tribute to Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense (digital outlets)

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Life During Wartime, by DJ Tunez
Various Artists: Everybody's Getting Involved; A Tribute to Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense (digital outlets)

While Lorde's cover of the Al Green song Take Me to the River (which was in Talking Heads' repertoire) understandably got attention locally – although she shoulder-taps the Heads too much when Al might have offered a more challenging and interesting take – there is so much ordinary and sometimes downright awful stuff on this tribute that you wonder why some of them bothered.

Maybe the cachet of Talking Heads might burnish their reputations?

You might want to be in Miley Cyrus' corner so she can prove what a talent she is to a different audience, but her treatment on the Heads' disturbing Psycho Killer is just a chunk of highly familiar contemporary dance-pop and entirely misses the “psycho” and “killer” parts of the equation.

So of the 16 covers/interpretations here let's single out the better ones (and by simple subtraction you can get the picture).

The National bring the right amount of weary anxiety and ennui to Heaven, the Linda Lindas bring a touch of the Heads' contemporaries the Feelies to Found a Job which just feels right and edgy within its pop declamations; Paramore play a straight bat to Burning Down the House (which works); one of the best versions is Nigerian DJ Tunez who gets beneath the skin of the disturbing Life During Wartime; BADBADNOTGOOD with Norah Jones bring some life to This Must Be the Place . . . and that might be it.

There's always that conundrum with tribute albums: should the artists genuflect to the original artist and deliver something faithful (in intention if not execution) or can they come in with their own agenda and re-invent the song, or make it over in their own image?

Unfortunately most of these artists sound like they erred towards the former but came up short. Not everyone should have got involved.

The original, groundbreaking album is still out there, so not much damage was inflicted and, at best, this might just take a new audience to that unique, landmark Talking Heads collection.

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You can hear this album at Spotify here


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