As anyone who ever heard "Pickin' on Creed: A Blugrass Tribute" will testify, they'll make a tribute album about pretty much anyone. Even the most successful tribute discs usually aren't huge sellers, but they're relatively inexpensive to make, instant cred enhancers for the artists asked to participate, and they help service aging rock fans' ever-increasing appetite for nostalgia.
This summer has brought a bumper crop of weird and wonderful tribute discs, practically begging to be broken down into handy charticle form.Let's get to it.
Album: "Stroked: A Tribute to Is This It?"
The skinny: This free download, collated by Stereogum, assembles blogosphere buzz acts like Real Estate, the Morning Benders (they get to do "Last Night") and Austra to pay homage to the Strokes' debut on the occasion of its 10th anniversary.
The awesome: It's thoughtfully compiled and expertly done, with no clunkers. And it's free!
The not-so-awesome: Great as they can be, the Strokes have always been about attitude as much as artistry. It turns out Strokes songs don't translate so well when someone other than the Strokes is doing them.
We would have liked to have seen: Appearances from some of the old guard rockers from whom the Strokes borrowed so heavily, like Iggy Pop or Tom Petty.
Album: "Rave On Buddy Holly"
The skinny: There are two Holly tribute discs being released this summer. This is the one with the hipsters (Florence and the Machine, Fiona Apple, Patti Smith, the Black Keys). The other one, September's "Listen to Me: Buddy Holly," features Stevie Nicks, Cobra Starship and Linda Ronstadt, though not, we are sad to report, at the same time.
The awesome: That beyond-formidable lineup.
The not-so-awesome: Like many tribute discs, "Rave On" seems to exist in Oppositeland, where Kid Rock is near-amazing, and Paul McCartney is terrible.
We would have liked to have seen: Someone covering "I Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore."
The skinny: Like "Stroked," this Spin-generated collection is a tribute to one album, Nirvana's landscape-upending "Nevermind."
The awesome: The Vaselines and the Meat Puppets, the two biggest recipients of Nirvana's largesse during the Seattle band's existence, return the favor. A random smattering of cool kids (Amanda Palmer, Telekenisis, Surfer Blood) show up, too.
The not-so-awesome: Nirvana probably would have hated half these acts, but they could be hard on people.
We would have liked to have seen: Courtney Love would have shredded any of these songs, but especially "Endless Nameless." The Courtney Love of 1992, though. Not the Courtney Love of today.
Album: "Take It Or Leave It: A Tribute To the Queens of Noise: The Runaways"
The skinny: A double-disc homage to the '70s hard rockers, this features contributions from the Dandy Warhols, the Donnas and the teaming of Kathleen Hanna and Peaches .
The awesome: In keeping with the band's scrappy aesthetic, there's a lot of rough-edged underground acts you've never heard of, like Swales, or the Toilet Boys.
The not-so-awesome: There's a lot of rough-edged underground acts you've never heard of, like Swales, or the Toilet Boys. Plus, two discs is an awful lot (the Runaways only released four during their lifetime), and filler is rife.
We would have liked to have seen: Less filler, more killer.