Various Artists

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before...

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Rough Trade recently reached the ripe old age of 25. To celebrate, they decided, among other things, to have some of their current artists do covers of songs released on Rough Trade in the past. Not a bad idea. Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before features 16 of these covers, oddly none of them a Smiths song even though that Rough Trade band gave the disc its title. As with most compilations of this nature, there are peaks and valleys. The most obvious valleys are Delays' bloodless version of Mazzy Star's "Ride It On" and the Veils' clattering version of Scritti Politti's "Lions After Slumber." The flatland would be the two overly imitative covers of Galaxie 500: the Tyde's version of "Tell Me" (with a lead vocal even more wobbly than Dean Wareham's) and British Sea Power's version of "Tugboat." Climbing up the summit you'll find the anti-folk contingent, who acquit themselves well; Adam Green does no harm to the Young Marble Giants' "Eating Noddemix" and Jeffrey Lewis romps through the Television Personalities' "Part-Time Punks." Elsewhere, Oneida does a wild cover of James Blood Ulmer's manic "Jazz Is the Teacher, Funk Is the Preacher," the Fiery Furnaces do rough justice to the Fall's clattering "Winter," and the Hidden Cameras do a lush version of the Clean's "Dunes." Two Strokes songs get the treatment; Royal City countrifies "Is This It" very pleasingly, while the Detroit Cobras remove the crazed rush of energy from "Last Nite" and replace it with smoke and smolder. On the top of the hill are Belle & Sebastian's whimsical electro-pop cover of Young Marble Giants' "Final Day," Eastern Lane's absolutely storming cover of the Feelies' great "Fa Ce La," and the Mystic Chords of Memory's heartbreakingly tender version of Aztec Camera's "We Could Send Letters." The original is a contender for one of the best songs of all time and while the Mystic's version can't possible top it, it gives it a serious run. The disc is worth it for those three songs alone, but it is fun all the way through and a fitting tribute to a great label.

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