May 21st, 2009

NZ Music Month

New Zealand Music Month - Day 21

I've listened to quite a few "tribute albums" in my time, and to be honest I find most of them rather pedestrian affairs. It's probably just me, but I don't think that Band B performing a practically note-perfect version of one of Band A's songs adds much to the song in question. I'd rather see someone make something quite different out of the source material - Richard Thompson's version of Britney Spears' Oops, I did it again is a fine example of that - but too many artists on "tribute albums" seem to think "slavish imitation" is the greatest form of respect.

This problem didn't really appear on "Abbasalutely". The idea behind this compilation was, basically: Early `nineties "alternative" groups perform versions of ABBA songs. ABBA had the reputation of being completely and utterly mainstream, not to mention outdated, but a lot of people had good memories of their songs. Not so much from liking the songs themselves, but from what they were doing when the songs were popular: Ed "Edmund Cake" McWilliams commented in the booklet, Abba is not great music, but great melodic memory cement.

So these versions of the songs were... rather odd, and, quite often, rather good. The track I have chosen tonight is the reliably indescribable Headless Chickens (Chris Matthews, Angus McNaughton, Grant Fell, Bevan Sweeney and Celia Church) making something interesting and listenable out of Super Trouper, a song that ABBA released late in their career, when their glory days were long behind them.