Love or hate The Smiths, it’s a testament to their songwriting legacy that the B-side Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want alone has been covered more than a dozen times by artists ranging from the Deftones and The Dream Academy to Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Reactions to The Smiths’ music run from delirious adoration to not being able to stand the sound of Morrissey’s voice; Please, Please, Please is a must-get for the former category and just may be the most perfectly acceptable dose of Moz for those who fall into the latter.
Several big names turn out to show their interpretations of Moz & Marr’s classics: Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch supplies an easygoing Reel Around the Fountain, while Telekinesis provide a raucous cover of Sheila Take a Bow. There’s also an unexpected appearance from Sixpence None the Richer with a warm, sunny take on I Won’t Share You and a fuzz-drenched rocker version of Hand in Glove by The Wedding Present. The best (and furthest straying) of these is Girl in a Coma’s backwoodsy, foot-stomping Rubber Ring cover.
Surprisingly, it’s the lesser-known names that steal the show: Kitten’s spacey, upbeat take on Panic, Cinerama’s sample-peppered, soothingly ambient cover of London, and Tonya Donnelly and Dylan in the Movies’ soft, heartfelt acoustic version of Shoplifters of the World Unite are all showstoppers. Dala’s smoky cabaret cover of Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me is possibly more heartbreaking than the original. Mike Viola and The Section Quartet swap heavily tremolo-ed guitars for moody strings on one of the more unique versions of How Soon Is Now? laid to record. Listing every solid track’s merits would take too long; there’s hardly a dud among the two-disc set’s 40 tracks.
American Laundromat Records has assembled an outstanding and highly varied assortment of Smiths covers for their tribute record. Each and every artist shows a reverence and love towards the material they’re working with; many take respectful liberties with their songs, giving a refreshing take on the music for those who know every lyric by heart and perhaps shedding a new light on the band for those who don’t fall into The Smiths’ cult worship camp.
Essential Songs: Girl in a Coma’s Rubber Ring, Kitten’s Panic, Cinerama’s London, Tonya Donnelly with Dylan in the Movies’ Shoplifters of the World Unite, and Dala’s Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me