The new Tom Petty tribute album, You Got Lucky (see review on right page), will have plenty of company in record stores. So many musicians are paying tribute to their peers that your local sound emporium might have to devote an entire section to the new wave of deference discs. And while some of these tribute records actually reveal some degree of artistic admiration, many of them seem driven by baser motives. A handy pocket guide to help distinguish the cheese-laden cash cows from the sincere-and-genuine article.
HOMAGED ARTIST Lynyrd Skynyrd
ALBUM TITLE SKYNARD FRYNDS (MCA)
IN A NUTSHELL Nashvylle favorytes from Alabama to Charlie Daniels typ their hats to ’70s prom stables by Ronnie Van Zant (left) & Co.
THE WHEAT Wynonna’s ”Free Byrd” kycks ass!
… AND THE CHAFF Everythyng else, like Travis Tritt’s version of ”Don’t Ask Me No Questions.”
WHAT’S MISSING The hygieneaverse Kentucky Head-Hunters doing ”That Smell.”
HOMAGED ARTIST Buddy Rich
ALBUM TITLE BURNING FOR BUDDY (Atlantic)
IN A NUTSHELL Brassy, big-band indulgence produced by Rush drummer Neil Pert, featuring rhythm-section duties by the likes of Guns N’ Roses’ Matt Sorum.
THE WHEAT Some tasty standards that even Peart and friends couldn’t screw up too badly.
… AND THE CHAFF A drum solo in every song?
WHAT’S MISSING Some skins-shredding by an alterna-monster like Nirvana’s Dave Grohl.
HOMAGED ARTIST Richard Thompson
ALBUM TITLE BEAT THE RETREAT: SONGS BY RICHARD THOMPSON (Capitol)
IN A NUTSHELL Rockers of every size, stripe and Stipe — from R.E.M. to the Five Blind Boys of Alabama — idolize a god.
THE WHEAT Dinosaur Jr blows a guitar tumbleweed through ”I Misunderstood.”
… AND THE CHAFF Evan Dando’s Bruce Springsteen imitation on ”For Shame of Doing Wrong.”
WHAT’S MISSING Any mention of Thompson’s ex-wife, Linda.
HOMAGED ARTIST The Carpenters
ALBUM TITLE IF I WERE A CARPENTER (A&M)
IN A NUTSHELL Sonic Youth, the Cranberries, and other Gen-X kids rock out to their parents’ favorite brother-sister duo.
THE WHEAT Shonen Knife’s tora-tora rendition of ”Top of the World.”
… AND THE CHAFF Cracker crumbles through a whiny version of ”Rainy Days and Mondays.”
WHAT’S MISSING Mary Chapin Carpenter, of course!
HOMAGED ARTIST Van Morrison
ALBUM TITLE NO PRIMA DONNA: THE SONGS OF VAN MORRISON (Polydor)
IN A NUTSHELL Sinéad O’Connor, Elvis Costello, and other Irish sorts wander into Van the Man’s mystic.
THE WHEAT Marianne Faithfull’s gritty lilt on ”Madame George.”
… AND THE CHAFF Liam Neeson’s spoken-word version of ”Coney Island,” a must for the next Golden Throats collection.
WHAT’S MISSING Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz, doing his Van impersonation.
HOMAGED ARTIST Black Sabbath
ALBUM TITLE NATIVITY IN BLACK: A TRIBUTE TO BLACK SABBATH (Columbia)
IN A NUTSHELL Satan worshipers from Megadeth to Biohazard hoist their Bics to Ozzy Osbourne (left) and his ’70s Ur-metul cohorts
THE WHEAT Al Jougensen’s 1,000 Homo DJ’s throbbing, wah- pedal-washed version of ”Supernaut.”
… AND THE CHAFF Sixty-seven minutes of Sabbath covers is more than most mortals can handle.
WHAT’S MISSING Beavis and Butt-head’s classic ”Iron Man” air-guitar riff.