Something borrowed, something teal?
The tribute album is always a bit of fun if not taken too seriously. Here’s a great example of that.
First of all, this is some selection of tracks. It’s not often you sit down to listen to an album and already know each song maybe word-for-word. That’s an up from me straight away.
I’ll split this review into three sections; what works, what doesn’t and what could be up there with the original.
Everybody Wants to Rule the World is a faithful rendition of Tears for Fears’ 1985 corruption-themed classic, and is probably the strongest like-for-like tribute on the album, getting everything from vocals to guitar and synth tones to a tee. Next is Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (are Made of This), another cornerstone of 80s music made menacing by being a semitone down on the original. Again, this is much closer to a tribute than a cover, with subtle differences which include the guitar replicating the synth solo – a really interesting switch. The tributes continue into Take On Me, with A-Ha’s timeless synth sounds tenaciously cloned. Rivers Cuomo’s vocals adapt well on this famously difficult ordeal.
Each track on this album that stays in its lanes is a decent version, and this includes Mr. Blue Sky. Though some of the sounds are a little off, this rendition of ELO’s classic is perfectly fine. This is the last of the safe options for the Teal Album. As good as these tributes are, the rest of the tracks are more interesting because they stray a little further from home, for better or for worse.
Okay, I’m including Africa in this, so I’ll keep it brief as not to upset too many people. It isn’t different enough from the original to sound interesting and it’s too different to sound like a solid tribute. The original is so iconic that it’s near-impossible to replicate well.
The cover of Paranoid could also be classed as a tribute because it doesn’t change an awful lot. That said, the tones are a little off – particularly on guitar – and Ozzy’s voice is so inimitable that the vocals here try too hard. It would have been better if they’d completely changed the track to fit the band but, hey, it’s a tribute.
Billie Jean is frustrating. There are things Weezer should have changed to fit their style but didn’t – the basic drum patterns for example could have been changed to better suit the heavier guitars. It also suffers from being a tribute rather than a cover – good versions of Billie Jean are nearly always stylistically dissimilar from the original. Stand By Me suffers a similar fate but works a little better. It’s fine, just not entirely exciting.
What’s nearly perfect:
Happy Together is so close to being perfect that it’s actually quite frustrating. From the vocal harmonies to the low-to-high dynamics, the only thing missing from this version is that iconic guitar riff in the intro. So close.
Which just leaves No Scrubs, maybe the most ambitious track on this album for a rock band to cover. They didn’t overdo it with adding guitars, the vocals are stylistically perfect, which plenty of room to dominate the track, the instrument sounds are pristine and the added grunge in the middle 8 is a nice addition to the original.
In all, the album is a lot of fun, which is what it was meant to be. Some of the tracks suffer from trying too hard to be a tribute and some deviation from the originals would have been smarter – albeit riskier. Regardless, this jumble of classics is an effortless listen and well worth the runtime.