Celebrating 25 years of the cutting edge independent label, Rough Trade, this budget-priced collection finds a disparate collection of Rough Trade artists tackling songs by, well, other Rough Trade artists.
The novelty lies in hearing such unlikely pairings as Royal City performing a Strokes song; British Sea Power tackling Tugboat (one of three Galaxie 500 covers they recorded, apparently), and Delays getting their teeth into the Mazzy Star track, Ride It On.
Although such albums can pall after a couple of listens, such is the breadth of material on offer here that you are likely to discover new treasures with each listen. Alasdair Roberts manages a take on the Ivor Cutler track I Had A Little Boat that preserves much of the original’s melancholic eccentricity and Jeffrey Lewis‘ version of The Television Personalities‘ hit Part-Time Punks has a suitably quirky, playground charm.
Two tracks are, on their own, worth the price of admission (not much more than a fiver), these being Elizabeth Fraser‘s take on the Robert Wyatt song At Last I Am Free (her first commercial recording in five years excluding the Lord Of The Rings soundtracks) and the aforementioned British Sea Power track, Tugboat. Both, in their different ways, retain the integrity of the original songs while adding distinctive interpretative twists.
Inevitably, with an ambitious undertaking such as this, there are a couple of cuts that misfire badly. It was brave, or perhaps foolhardy, of the Fiery Furnaces to take on a Fall track, especially as, to paraphrase an old Bob Dylan ad campaign, no one sings Mark E Smith like Mark E Smith. Also, Belle And Sebastian‘s version of the Young Marble Giants‘ song Final Day is an uncoordinated mess.
Nevertheless, these are the only real disappointments from an album that mostly beguiles and delights.