Tag Archive | tribute album

Pink Thing of The Day: Saving for a Custom Van, a Tribute to Adam Schlesinger

saving for a custom van

Adam Schlesinger, best known to most music fans as a member of the power pop band, Fountains of Wayne lost his life on April 1st of this year at the age of 52.  One of the first musicians taken from us by the Corona Virus pandemic, Adam’s death is an immeasurable loss. In addition to founding Fountains of Wayne with Chris Collingwood, Schlesinger was a gifted and prolific songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist who also recorded with electro-pop trio Ivy and ‘supergroup’ Tinted Windows (with Bun E. Carlos, James Iha and Taylor Hanson). Offstage, he had an impressive career writing music for film and television. I first met Adam in 1995, when I interviewed Fountains of Wayne during the press cycle for its debut album, and over the years I would see him occasionally at parties and industry events. He was a nice guy and an unbelievable talent. Everybody loved Adam.

It is in Adam Schlesinger’s memory that wide array of artists touched by his life pay tribute to the many musical projects of which he was a part via a Bandcamp-exclusive benefit compilation, Saving for a Custom Van. The 31-song collection features collaborators, tourmates, friends, and fans putting their own spin on songs spanning his entire career. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend co-creator, executive producer and star Rachel Bloom turns Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” into a jazzy cabaret moodpiece, while Schlesinger’s Fountains of Wayne bandmate Jody Porter contributes a melancholy, shimmering take on Ivy’s “Four in the Morning.” Sarah Silverman — who teamed up with Schlesinger on the upcoming musical The Bedwetter — joins with songwriter Ben Lee for a gorgeous, folk-leaning take on “Way Back Into Love,” a Schlesinger song central to the 2007 film Music and Lyrics.

Other musicians on the compilation tackle Fountains of Wayne songs (Letters to Cleo’s Kay Hanley, “Radiation Vibe” —  listen at This Link.; Motion City Soundtrack, “Dip in the Ocean”; Nada Surf, “Sick Day”; Vivian Girls/Upset member Ali Koehler, “Hackensack”), while Ivy songs are also well-represented (Belly members Tanya Donelly and Gail Greenwood, “Undertow”; Ted Leo, “Everyday”; HUNNY, “Tess Don’t Tell”).

Saving for a Custom Van, which takes its title from a lyric in Fountains of Wayne’s “Utopia Parkway,” is co-curated and co-released by Father/Daughter Records and Wax Nine, the label/journal run by Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis (who also contributes a FoW cover under her Sad13 moniker). One-hundred percent of proceeds will be donated to MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund, which is dedicated to helping music industry and community members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Download the full album for just $10 at Bandcamp via This Link

Read The Full Track Listing After The Jump!

Continue reading

Recommended Listening: Dave Depper, The Ram Project

Ram, Paul McCartney’s first post-Beatles solo album, is a record to which time has been very kind. Released in 1971, Ram contained the #1 hit “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” and the enduring “Too Many People” as well as FM radio staples like “Long Haired Lady” and the sublime “Ram On.” Actually, even if you don’t own a copy of Ram, if you spent any time listening to radio in the seventies, you probably know every song on the album. While Ram was not critically well received upon its release, fortunately, with the majority of its songs being either good or very, very good, the album sold 2 million copies – and not just because McCartney was in the fucking Beatles. Ram isn’t as epic as George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, but it is not an album that anyone is going to give you shit for owning. Forty years after its original release date, Ram is bulletproof.

Songs from the Ram album were recently covered in their entirety by Portland-based multi-instrumentalist Dave Depper, who’s built a successful career recording and touring with other people’s bands. Never having recorded any of his own, original music, Depper was experiencing a kind of musician’s “Dark Night of the Soul,” I suppose you could call it, when he decided to take on the ambitious project of re-recording Ram, all by himself at his home studio. The Ram Project was completed in just 31 days, and the result is simply amazing. Depper’s interpretations sound like what McCartney’s demos might have sounded like if he recorded the album today. Tribute albums went out of vogue a decade ago, but when you are covering material this solid, and the process has so much invested heart, it’s hard to make a mistake.

All twelve original songs from Ram are given loving homage on The Ram Project and there is not a misstep in the bunch. Depper’s versions stay faithful to the original arrangements and even distinctive flourishes such as Linda McCartney’s backing vocals, which are contributed here by Joan Hiller, and signature instruments like the Ukulele on “Ram On” and the comically menacing piano on “Monkberry Moon Delight” are included. The album was mixed as true to the original as possible by Beau Raymond (Devendra Banhart, Little Joy, Laura Gibson) and expertly mastered by Tony Lash (Elliott Smith, Death Cab for Cutie, Dandy Warhols). As it says in Depper’s bio, “The Ram Project is almost eerie in its resemblance to Ram itself.” I think it serves as a fresh companion piece to the original album. Mostly, it just feels really good to rediscover these songs. Highly recommended.

Track listing for The Ram Project is as follows:

1. “Too Many People”
2. “3 Legs”
3. “Ram On”
4. “Dear Boy”
5. “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”
6. “Smile Away”
7. “Heart of the Country”
8. “Monkberry Moon Delight”
9. “Eat at Home”
10. “Long Haired Lady”
11. “Ram On (Reprise)”
12. “The Back Seat of My Car”

Dave Depper’s The Ram Project is available for purchase from Amazon.com at This Link.

GRADE: A

Oh Yeah Baby! Def Leppard Rocks Your Lame Ass.

YEAH-Def_Leppard

Album of The Year, 2006

I think David Bowie started it all in 1973 with Pin Ups, an album on which he performs some of his favorite songs by mid ’60s British groups. Since then, the name-act-pays-tribute-to-its-influences album has been done well by Duran Duran (Thank You) and less well by A Prefect Circle (eMOTIVe). But now I think Def Leppard has recorded possibly the best and most exciting album of covers ever with Yeah!, which was released last Tuesday. The most amazing thing about this record is not only how it makes painfully obvious how much most modern bands completely suck, but also how vibrant and authentic Def Leppard’s versions of these songs sound. I had no idea that Joe Elliott was such a vocal chameleon. I can, with no trace of irony, say that Yeah! is my favorite album of the year so far.

The track listing for YEAH! is as follows:

“20th Century Boy” (T. Rex, 1973)
“Rock On” (David Essex, 1973)
“Hanging On The Telephone” (originally recorded by The Nerves in 1977, and Blondie in 1978)
“Waterloo Sunset” (The Kinks, 1967)
“Hell Raiser” (Sweet, 1973: Listen to the opening guitar riff and tell me Nikki Sixx didn’t conveniently “borrow” that for “Kick Start My Heart”)
“10538 Overture” ( Electric Light Orchestra, 1972)
“Street Life” (Roxy Music, 1973: My favorite Roxy Music song ever)
“Drive-In Saturday” (David Bowie, 1973)
“Little Bit Of Love” (Free, 1972)
“The Golden Age Of Rock & Roll” (Mott the Hoople, 1974)
“No Matter What” (Badfinger, 1970)
“He’s Gonna Step On You Again” (originally recorded by John Kongos in 1971 but probably better known by the Happy Mondays’ version, “Step On,” released in 1990)
“Don’t Believe A Word (Thin Lizzy, 1976)
“Stay With Me” (Faces, 1971)

Regardless of how you feel about Def Leppard — who have been one of my favorite bands forever — if you love and miss the glory days of ’70s rock, Yeah! is absolutely essential listening. Great job guys!