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As is usually the case with such endeavors, “Just Tell Me You Love Me,” a tribute to Fleetwood Mac, is a total mixed bag.
Out today, it’s just the sort of album for which iTunes was invented. Fans of Antony (of Antony & The Johnsons) poignant, faithful rendition of the gentle, lovely “Landslide” may not want the fuzzy version of instrumental “Albatross,” delivered more than capably by Lee Ranaldo Band featuring J Mascis.
As a whole, the 17-song tribute breaks down into two specific camps: fans of the ubiquitous hits from “Fleetwood Mac” and “Rumours” will gravitate toward the songs they grew up with while followers of the band’s earlier bluesier, pre- Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham incarnation will dig the more experimental material provided by folks like ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and his swampy take on “Oh Well” or MGMT’s nine-minute trippy version of “Future Games.”
This collection was curated for Concord by the same folks who put together the “Rave On Buddy Holly” last year and it is squarely aimed at the Pitchfork crowd with such artists as Lykke Li, on a haunting “Silver Springs,” and Karen Elson, who provides an echo-y, spare take on “Gold Dust Woman.” To their credit, it feels like the producers allowed the artists free rein to interpret these songs as they wished.
Some acts take the originals and turn them into their own creations: The Kills twist “Dreams” into a harder, darker, much more menacing tune than the original; Best Coast gives “Rhiannon” a sunshiny bounce; The New Pornographers reinvent “Think About Me” as a power pop tune via Cheap Trick; Gardens & Villas’ spaced-out, dreamy take on “Gypsy” works better than it should; The Crystal Ark find a nice work around to the marching band on “Tusk” that still provided a full-bodied sound.
There are few flat-out disasters here, but, sadly, there are just as few home runs that make this collection feel like a must-have. It will appeal more to fans of the acts featured here who will want to see how their favorite artist reinterpret a track rather than to Fleetwood Mac fans. For them, this collection will just send them scurrying back to the originals.