MOST ROCK critics just get to compile Top 10 lists, but ex-rock critics Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, the mainstays of Yo La Tengo, do their former peers one better with "Fakebook": 16 cover versions of their favorite songs, including five that bear the credits of -- hey, a favorite's a favorite -- Kaplan and/or Hubley. Not everyone will agree that Tengo's "Did I Tell You" ranks up there with the Kinks' poignant "Oklahoma, U.S.A." or John Cale's lovely "Andalucia," but overall the results are charming.
In lounge-band lingo, a fakebook provides the chords for the big hits of the day, but most of the numbers in this "Fakebook" were never hits (ex-Byrd Gene Clark's "Tried So Hard") or hit so long ago that few will remember them (the Tremeloes' "Here Comes My Baby," written by Cat Stevens in a previous lifetime). From Peter Stampfel's "Griselda" to the Scene Is Now's "Yellow Sarong" to Rex Garvin and the Mighty Cravers' "Emulsified" (with great campy back-up vocals by the Pussywillows), the Hoboken, N.J., quartet puts the shine back on the term "eclectic."
Since most of these songs will be fresh to most of this album's listeners, it hardly matters that Yo La Tengo -- "I got it" in Spanish -- tends to merely recreate rather than reinterpret much of this material.
YO LA TENGO -- "Fakebook" (Bar None/Restless). Appearing Friday with Carnival of Souls at the 9:30 club.