jack rabid – the big takeover, issue #54, spring 2004

who’s not forgotten – we hate tribute lps so much, we’re shocked when one’s any good at all, let alone superb like who’s not forgotten! that its proceeds go to h.e.a.r., the hearing loss prevention charity created with a large grant from pete townshend, makes this all the more worthy. but it’s the nearly unwavering performances, mostly from a batch of no-name power-pop groups from new jersey and pennsylvania, that make it such a find.

as usual, half the groups stick to the customary singles and radio tracks, but most of them do great, unique versions. the lolas put ringing pop guitars into a sharp “the kids are alright” without sacrificing the weighty ballast, and man, do the dipsomaniacs do a hot garage rendition of who’s next’s “bargain!” the smithereenspat dinizio brings poignancy to “behind blue eyes” live, tommy conwell & those dipsomaniacs hit the r&b stomp highs of “long live rock,” cordalene wrench the comedy out of “i’m a boy,” taggart has high-octane fun with the dr. ruth-ian paternal advice of “pictures of lily,” and blank pages hit “substitute” hard. (guided by voices‘ live “baba o’riley” is alas poorly recorded, but the spirit is manifest. and glowfriends unplug and slow down “i can’t explain” even more than david bowie did on pinups 30 years ago, but win with lullaby harmonies.)

the nicer surprises are by big fans that know which non-hits to pluck. don’t miss the opening, crushing version of john entwistles’s finest tune, the immortal b-side “heaven and hell” by photon band. you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for an original who outtake, and that’s saying loads. likewise, kudos to bigger lovers for a choice look at the obscure who sell out outtake “glow girl” with a coda snatch of tommy’s “it’s a boy.” the bastards of melody really crank on quadrophenia’s “the real me,” nancy kalkow’s tommy track “1921” is likable, and you can’t go wrong with townshend’s three earliest masterpieces of pure pop, sell out’s “maryanne with the shaky hands” by chris richards, a quick one’s often-covered “so sad about us” (with some of “a quick one while he’s away”) this time by steve brown, and plays my generation-era “substitute” b-side “circles” as psychedelic pop by jeremy.

on the “forget it!” side, the contractions wreck “my generation” with a pointless monotone reworking that’s as welcome as last month’s milk, and grand fabric must be blind, deaf, and dumb to think anyone wants a fifth-rate post-keith moon-era dud like 1982 it’s hard’s “athena” again! not so bad, but less galvanizing are jim basnight’s too duplicative if decent “i can see for miles” and j. horndog’s ho-hum “boris the spider” (the late entwistle kicked this much harder), while the commons boogie-rock on the double entendre “squeeze box” is a little too trad bar band.

but with few taps of the skip button, the lp rates high marks. lord knows it’s usually hopeless to take on the towering originals of this incredible rock band and make them sound so fresh. it could only be done by committed fans who understand the who’s real fire/genius, to give us such a rousing one. who’s not forgotten is a gas, maybe the best tribute lp since the 1994 seattle-ified zombies one! (the big takeover)