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:

//related
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.


//comments
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Call for Music Writers... Hip-Hop, Soul, Electronic, Rock, Indie, Americana, Jazz, World and More

// Announcements

"PopMatters is looking for smart music writers. We're looking for talented writers with deep genre knowledge of music and its present and…

READ the article