VARIOUS ARTISTS – A Future Of Bad Men: A Melvins Tribute

Few bands have been more influential to the alternative scene than (the) Melvins. Since their arrival in the early eighties, the noisemakers from Washington have forged an uncompromising musical path which has inspired punk and doom metal bands alike. They’ve encouraged many to twist the elements of rock music into unfathomable shapes. Their early work laid the formations for what many consider “grunge”. Somehow, in the mid 90s, they even managed to score a recording deal with a major label, which inspired them to become even more obtuse, first releasing a single that had a lyric in a made up language (‘Hooch’) and promote a slightly later release with a track that included a drawling vocal, a sludge metal riff and an atonal jazz solo played on the trombone. Even more bizarrely, that single (‘Bar-X The Rocking M’) even had its video shown on MTV. The Melvins’ career has taken many forms, and it’s rarely been pretty, but it has never, ever been dull.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Animals Reimagined: A Tribute To Pink Floyd

All star prog tributes are hardly a new phenomenon. Robert Berry and Yes man Billy Sherwood have been contributing to such releases since the 90s and it’s often resulted in records made with love. Occasionally, they’ve included a few tracks that’ve become essential collection fillers. There’s a Pink Floyd tribute from the 90s called ‘The Moon Revisited’ that brings together a host of famous faces recreating the monolithic ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ from start to finish. Naturally, the record isn’t as good as the original – nobody ever claimed it would be – but a run of tracks during the second half make it a keeper. World Trade’s take on the instrumental ‘Any Colour You Like’ and Robert Berry’s ‘Brain Damage’, especially, showcase veteran talents able to turn their hands to almost anything with ease.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Love You: A Tribute To Syd Barrett

Despite only spending a small amount of time in a recording studio during his lifetime, Syd Barrett became a cult hero. His whimsical songs about bikes, scarecrows, transvestitism and gnomes became part of English psychedelia’s core; his distinctive musical vision set (The) Pink Floyd on the road to stardom. So much was the love for the Floyd’s 1967 debut ‘Piper At The Gates of Dawn’ and associated singles, that Barrett’s two proper solo albums ‘The Madcap Laughs’ and ‘Barrett’ (released in January and November 1970, respectively) also found an audience, despite being very difficult listens.

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ZAKK SABBATH – Vertigo

Black Sabbath’s debut LP turned 50 years old in February 2020. The band did not release an expensive box set to mark the occasion (they left that for the October anniversary of ‘Paranoid’, where the 5LP reissue was prohibitively expensive and the CD box set was just a quick repackaging of the 40th anniversary edition). There wasn’t even a notable vinyl reissue of the seminal debut recording – but to be fair, as welcomed as that would have been, no vinyl pressings sound anywhere near as good as the original Vertigo spiral label edition. Instead, fans and press were invited in limited numbers to go to a pre-arranged location in London and listen to the album in pitch darkness.

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ROCKING HORSE MUSIC CLUB – Which Way The Wind Blows: The Music Of Anthony Phillips

There have been various Genesis related tributes over the years. From Magna Carta Records’ all-star prog-fest ‘Supper’s Ready’, to critically acclaimed live shows from The Musical Box, to Steve Hackett’s own ‘Genesis Revisited’ series of recordings and tours, they all have their place. They also have one thing in common: they are heavily weighted towards the band’s output from 1971-76.

By comparison, the band’s founding guitarist’s contribution to the band is all too often overlooked. 1970’s ‘Trespass’ is an important transitional album taking Genesis from vaguely psychedelic pop in a Moody Blues vein to the ground breaking, sprawling and epic sound that would later be celebrated and Ant’s distinctive playing was a huge part of that. Even more overlooked is Ant’s extensive solo career, but a group of musicians from New Hampshire have taken giant steps to put that right with their 2019 release ‘Which Way The Wind Blows’. Chances are, the world at large would have little interest in a group of musicians from the Rocking Horse Studios sharing their interpretations of music that isn’t already widely known, but that gathering of friends have taken extra, important steps towards making sure their tribute is as broadly appealing as possible: ‘Which Way…’ features some cracking guests.

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