Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Condo Fucks -- Fuckbook

Condo Fucks -- Fuckbook (Matador)

There’s no doubt that Yo La Tengo has a sense of humor. Whether it’s the amusing baseball anecdote from which the band got its name or having Bob Odenkirk and David Cross of Mr. Show in a YLT video, Yo La Tengo does not take itself too seriously.

This comes through on Fuckbook, a garagey sequel to the band’s all-covers Fakebook album. In addition to hyping some fake Condo Fucks albums in the CD booklet, the back cover boasts production by Mutt Lange and mixing and mastering by sound gurus Bob Clearmountain and Greg Calbi. Rest assured that not only was there no production necessary for this album, but it sounds like it was recorded on the tape recorder Rerun used to bootleg the Doobie Brothers on the greatest episode of What’s Happening ever.

The song list is terrific. The Fucks fuck up songs by The Small Faces, The Electric Eels, The Kinks, Slade, The Beach Boys and others. This sounds like it can’t miss.

Yet it does. The tossed off quality of the affair yields diminishing returns. It’s not that the performances are dispassionate, but they certainly aren’t passionate. And if an album of covers leaves me wanting to hear the original, far superior version of a song, the cover isn’t succeeding. And that happens far too often on this set.

Maybe you’d like to hear an off-key rendition of The Kinks’ “This Is Where I Belong”, but I have no need for it. And the lurching version of Slade’s “Gudbuy T’Jane” would have Noddy Holder spinning in his grave, were Noddy dead.

The Fucks hit once in a while. I like the take on The Flamin’ Groovies’ “Dog Meat”, which is probably the most intense performance on the disc. And while I can’t vouch for the performance of The Beach Boys’ “Shut Down”, I like hearing it done as a grimy rock song.

But that’s setting the bar pretty low for a song, isn’t it? Let’s face it. If this were a demo, the powers that be at Matador would have tossed it in the garbage. Just because it’s Yo La Tengo does not give it any magical powers.

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