Reviews of Jack White Tribute, Terrible Twos, Kreator 

Roundup of new releases.

Various Artists
Rockin’ Legends Pay Tribute to Jack White
Cleopatra 

The thing about  covers is that, much like movie remakes, unless you’re bringing something new to the table — and preferably re-imagining the song completely — there’s little point going there to begin with.

Faithful covers are one of music’s more redundant exercises. The original version exists — why would anyone want something that is nearly the same? The people behind this tribute to Jack White know this. Ironically, they’re bringing something refreshingly old to the table — different, but certainly not new.

Criticisms about this album were raining down before most people even heard it. Whether or not it’s too soon for a tribute to Jack appears to be the most common cause for debate; it probably is. In fact, “tribute” is probably the wrong word for this record, because the people performing on it (Wanda Jackson, Gary U.S. Bonds, Joe Clay, Bobby Vee, etc.) are the musicians really deserving of a tribute. But strip the half-assed morality away and what you’re left with is a very cool idea: taking a bunch of songs that were influenced by early rock and blues, and having the very musicians that influenced them perform them. The results vary, but keep that mind open. Wanda Jackson purrs her way through “In the Cold, Cold Night,” and Sonny Burgess & the Legendary Pacers’ version of “Steady as She Goes” is given a hefty blues stomp. Even better is Bobby Vee’s old-school country twang-like take on “We’re Going to be Friends.”

Why “I’m Shakin’” is on here is a mystery — the song was already a cover, originally recorded by Little Willie John. But there’s much to enjoy here.

So yes, a tribute is premature. Fortunately, the execution has obscured that fact.—Brett Callwood

 

Terrible Twos

Horror Vacui

Urinal Cake 

 

The Terrible Twos have made noisy punk rock into an art form. What began as a teenage outfit of hardcore revivalists soundtracking Ann Arbor house parties has sharpened its blades to factory-grade razor intensity.

The band keenly balances classic rock riffs, sci-fi blaster blips and throat-curdling caterwauling into a kicking presentation of two-minute tantrums. The lyrics come straight from the gut — which makes some of these songs sound like crudely honest burps (“We have to go to the bathroom”), while others aim straight for the stomach.

“Sickness of Their Swan,” with its chugging riffs and horrific lyrical imagery, might be one of the best songs yet. And yes, these are still songs. Even if some are only 90 seconds and stinging with screams (both from the dual-vocalists and from the dueling synth and guitar elements), they display a palpable sense for the fun of rock ’n’ roll — the hooking riff, the inciting rhythm and the theme of storming a stage.  —Jeff Milo

 

Kreator

Dying Alive

Nuclear Blast 

 

How exactly does  one die alive? Judging by the cover, this is some sort of zombie thing, but that doesn’t really explain it. While you’re dying but not yet dead, you are by definition alive. But anyway, this German thrash metal band has been kicking it since ’82 and, despite a minor industrial-influenced blip in the shape of ’92’s Renewal, it has remained impressively consistent — churning out some of the finest thrash outside of the Bay Area. 

This double-live album, recorded in Oberhausen in 2012, showcases exactly how the band has managed to stick around for so long. All of the metal boxes are ticked, from the classical music intro, tape to the big choruses (complete with audience sing-along), and the name of the city screamed loud (“OBERHAUSEN, the Kreator has returned”).

Unlike the far more intense and brutal death metal genre, thrash metal at its best has always been slightly goofy. Kreator straddles the line between horror and comedy with impressive dexterity. —Brett Callwood

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