I came here from across the pond as an excuse to review Pink Floyd's Greatest Hits Covered, a budget double album released on this label at the end of last year (and on Redline in the USA). This is not a big, shiny American record company, it's the oldest and most revered English independent with a hugely diverse range of labels encompassing an equally eclectic range of material. So go check them all out for yourself, because I don't have the space here.
But a budget Christmas tribute album, by Various Artists, was surely bound to fail for at least the reasons that nobody would approve of the track selection, regardless, and every track that was chosen would be panned for being too close or too far from the originals. What were they thinking?
Well, I was right about the selection. There's room for 30 tracks here, but given the source material, no way is that enough. So whole albums, notably Animals and The Division Bell, have been ignored. But the big surprise is that instead of DSOTM getting the pig's share of the space, as you'd expect with a double album compilation, instead we get The Wall.
Now I know it's a famous album, movie and T-shirt range, but no way is every track here a Greatest Hit. This is, however, probably what Pulse would have been in the hands of Roger Waters, and it would have been less memorable for that. No offense, but The Wall needs space around it whereas DSOTM, though also a concept album, plays well with others.
The redeeming feature, and why, aside from the bargain price, I think you should add it to your collection, is that some impressive players have turned out for this one. You'll find Steve Lukather, Keith Emerson, Dweezil Zappa, most of Yes, and King Crimson, and Toto, Asia and more. By and large, the material is in safe hands and where it's presented with respect, as a tribute, it generally comes off well.
I have to say, though, that some of these bricks don't fit too well and where interpretation and experiment take over from tribute, the result is less memorable.
No Floyd cover album is going to rise above being a tribute, because the originals were perfect the first time around, and continue to be revered by a huge fan base. This album attempts to tread a line just far enough away from the originals to keep the faith and still be different, but not too far to become painfully experimental. In all but a very few embarrassing diversions, it succeeds pretty well.
I've listened to other Floyd tributes, and less uneven and more pleasing overall, but despite its faults, I'd say that the unusual track selection, personnel and budget price of this one make it a keeper unless you really, really can't cope with the despairing atmosphere introduced by the presence of The Wall.
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