Here, at last, is a tribute LP worth making. It neatly avoids the first rule of why tribute LPs suck -- unlike tributes to someone over-played, this is a gigantic, huge, magnificent talent still woefully underexposed to the masses, a band well-loved by more famous musicians than most are aware of. It also manages to avoid the second and more important problem: this collection is decent in its own right. The third and last problem is still here: too many "never-heard-of-them's" appear when we know there are better bands who mention or cover the Saints. But a lot of these also-rans, though greatly overmatched by comparison to the original versions, aren't overmatched by the songs themselves (Chris Bailey often writes assessable tunes, wonderful as they are -- it's only his stunning big-howl singing, unbelievable arranging talent, and experienced playing that makes the songs doubly special when he does them himself), so this LP is listenable instead of utterly embarrassing. Lastly, even those who already love the Saints tend to only know the four LPs that have been released in the U.S., or even just the first two, which were knock-out, classic punk LPs before Bailey took over the band on his own and went more post-punk to R&B to rippin' rock and soul. Now if only this LP were a domestic release. Here's the low-down. Very Strong: Dime Box's well-chosen, steely run-through "Story of Love"; Leaving Trains, who do to "Demolition Girl" what they did to "Private Affair" on their terrific '86 LP Kill Tunes; and original Saints legend Ed Kuepper's nostalgic, scaled-down look at "Everything's Fine." Good: Moon's decent rave-up of "Know Your Product," Original Sins' by-the-book floor-tom pounding "Erotic Neurotic," the Puzzled Monkeys' acoustic starkness on "Down the Drain," Sidwewinders' surprisingly spooky "Memories Are Made of This," and the Bevis Frond's cheap and nasty psychedelic idea of "This Perfect Day." OK: Trotsky Icepick's "I'm Stranded," Brothers Figaro's "Wrapped Up in Blue," Texas Midgets' "Shipwreck (Prodigal Son)," and the Shramms' lighthearted look at "In the Mirror." Nah: Rich Hardesty & the Del Reys' "Ghost Ships" and the Chant's "Grain of Sand." Phooey: Chuck Prophet's "Just Like Fire Would," Popealopes' "How to Avoid Disaster," Two Lane Blacktop's "That's the Way It Goes," and Low Max's "Messin' With the Kid." Also appearing: Springhouse, which I can't offer an unbiased opinion about since I was a member, in fact, I sing this version of "Angels." Note that this appeared originally on our 1992 Eskimo EP. My biased opinion is that it's one of my favorite (and lowest-tech) recordings of ours, and I always wondered what Bailey thought of it -- I gave him a copy last year when he opened for Concrete Blonde on their U.S. tour.
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