Various Artists

The 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute

by Victor Valdivia

6 December 2011

 
cover art

Various Artists

The 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute

(Theatre Within)
US: 15 Nov 2011
UK: Import

Like all multi-artist tribute albums, The 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute is only as good as its strongest contributors, and unfortunately, most of the contributors on this volume seem more intent on cautious mimicry rather than bold adventurousness. John Lennon was a famously daring rock & roller, but judging by the performances here, most of the attendees at this concert would rather have reverent, note-for-note recreations of his songs. Me’Shell Ndegeocello turns “God” into a murky, ominous anthem for the Richard Dawkins generation, while Alejandro Escovedo delivers a version of “Help!” that, in its slow, quiet moodiness, captures the desperation at the heart of the song. With these versions, the crowd seems bewildered. By contrast, Martin Sexton’s cover of “Working Class Hero” is identical to Lennon’s original, just as Joan Osborne’s Xeroxed rendition of “Hey Bulldog” recreates all of the barking and joking, and the crowd goes wild for both. Of course, not even the rather staid audience can resist getting caught up in Bettye Lavette’s gospel reworking of “The Word”, but for the most part performers with usually strong musical identities like Aimee Mann and Taj Mahal end up giving overly worshipful recreations of Beatles and Lennon songs, making this a rather dull and unnecessary release.  Maybe you had to be there.

The 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute

Rating:

 

We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times.

//comments
//related
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Counterbalance: Elvis Costello's 'Imperial Bedroom'

// Sound Affects

"History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats. Keep your finger on important issues, and keep listening to the 275th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1982 masterpiece is this week's Counterbalance.

READ the article