VARIOUS ARTISTS: A Tribute to Leatherface: CD

First off, tribute records blow sheep. What no doubt was a well intentioned way of honoring musical heroes has quickly turned into a way for sub-par bands to make a name and name bands to retain some sort of cred, resulting in people like KISS getting their names mixed up in a scene they probably once held in contempt. Further, to attempt to pay such a tribute to a band as revered and adored as Leatherface is tantamount to asking someone wearing steel-toed stiletto shoes dipped in boric acid to kick you repeatedly in the face. Let’s face it, the band elicits a reverence akin to a religious fervor in some quarters, and said quarter won’t take lightly to some quasi-tribute laying waste to their fine name. That said, this is actually quite good, so those responsible have probably averted the aforementioned stiletto shoed fate outline above, which has put a rather unpleasant image in my head and made me wish I’d not thought of it in the first place. I think what makes this one work is that they had the good sense to pick two discs worth of bands from the heart of Leatherface’s wing of fan(atic)s to do the tribute-paying—c’mon, it’d be crazy to have such a collection that didn’t include Radon, The Tim Version, Hot Water Music, Wat Tyler, and Tiltwheel in the ranks—and you end up with a tribute that sometimes actually comes close to rivaling the original versions. Hell, kudos to In The Red for not only winning the “who can rasp their vocals like Stubbs” contest, but also for turning in a version of “Patrick Kills Me” that could easily pass for the original. There are a couple of odd missteps—okay, we got that the tunes sound just as well delivered acoustically around the third track delivered thus, and the sole excursion into synth-land was as bad as can be expected—but on the whole, this was pretty danged swell. 

 –jimmy (Rubber Factory)