2 Feb 2015

"Stoned A Psych Tribute to the Rolling Stones"


Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Following on from their successful "Psych Tribute to the Doors", the folks from Cleopatra Records have rounded up another bunch of impressionable young 'uns to psychedelicize a classic songbook. The Doors music led itself naturally to that approach, but the Stones are a much more varied bunch who only dabbled briefly with psychedelia. Their one full blown psychedelic album has a cult following, but is generally regarded as a bit naff and phony by critics and fans alike (although I rather like it), so there is very little psychedelic source material for the artists on "Stoned..." to work with. A cursory glimpse at the track listings gives cause for even more raised eyebrows; "Their Satanic Majesties" and the psychedelic singles that accompanied its release remain untouched by all of these artists, who have elected instead to tackle material more generally representative of the Stones rootsy swagger.

This leads to a very interesting listen, full of mostly creative arrangements, with only a couple of artists guilty of piling on the effects to hide a lack of ideas.

There are less big names involved this time around; Clinic turn the hoary old rocker "It's Only Rock and Roll" into a mad casiotone bar-mitzvah anthem, and Allah Las take a respectable stab at the title track, which ends up sounding exactly like you'd expect an Allah Las instrumental Stones cover to sound.

Elsewhere, the names that I'm less familiar with do plenty of interesting things too. There's loads of reverb naturally - the Stones music almost demands it, but it's impressive just how much psychedelia these artists have managed to infuse these rootsy garage-country songs with, and just how unforced the results sound. Walls of shoegaze guitars with layers of treated vocals are prevalent, so this is certainly one for lovers of the new, rather than the old school.

Highlights then? Yeti Lane cut "Sway" through with massive shards of wah-wah guitarwork that recalls prime-era Built to Spill. Celestial Bums turn "Child of the Moon" into "All Tomorrow's Parties". And best of are the Tulips, who recast "Wild Horses" as a lovely piece of warm, cozy dream-pop.

It's true that this 'psych tribute' concept has the potential to degenerate into novelty status, but if the artists continue to subvert the source material as interestingly as they have on these first two releases, we're in no danger of that any time soon.

Stoned is available here on CD, and here on vinyl.

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