Tribute to Andy Wood

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One of the many semiofficial releases that the Italian record industry seemed to specialize in before the dawn of MP3 trading, the two-disc Tribute to Andy Wood, drawing on everything from acoustic home demos from Wood's early Malfunkshun days to alternate versions of songs from the Temple of the Dog project, is the definitive alternate history of the artist's music. The annotation is imperfect, but still provides some basic if not entirely detailed dates and details on who recorded what; the first disc is split between Malfunkshun, Mother Love Bone, and Temple of the Dog, while the second consists solely of Mother Love Bone offerings. A fair amount of songs later resurfaced on official releases, notably some of the full Malfunkshun studio cuts, but there are some out and out rarities, including Mother Love Bone's cover of the Argent proto-metal anthem "Hold Your Head Up." Another winner from that band's sessions is "No Blues for You," aka "These Are No Blues for You," featuring an equally compelling Seattle talent, Shawn Smith, who would later join up with Stone Gossard in Brad, adding backing vocals behind Wood's lead. There are plenty of striking versions of songs that would be more familiar later; hearing Wood and his brother Kevin perform the beautiful, poisonous ballad "Man of Golden Words" back in 1984 with just acoustic guitar, piano, and synth strings is a treat and a half. Sound quality varies, but certainly isn't as bad as many bootlegs out there, and Wood's voice more often than not cuts right through any potential murk. While a proper overview of all the material would be the best way to remember Wood's striking talent, this more than serves as a way for the interested fan to see both the range of his work and, with the Temple of the Dog tracks, how he was remembered.

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