Various Artists – Cut Pieces: A Tribute to Yoko Ono (review)

Various Artists – Cut Pieces: A Tribute to Yoko Ono (Main Man Records) review

Seriously – one of the best tribute albums we’ve heard in years

The problem with most tribute albums is that they suck.  What was once an unique idea has now been beat to death.  And the end result is usually the same: it just makes you want to go listen to the original artist.  That’s why Cut Pieces: A Tribute to Yoko Ono is such a welcome surprise.  An eclectic array of artists each give their individual spin on this polarizing figure’s music.  What you get is a great collection of songs – whether you like Yoko Ono or not.

The set kicks off with the Bebe Buell Band’s take on “I’m Movin’ On.”  Featuring a wall of guitars and Buell’s deep, gruff growl, it’s a downright delightful rocker – kinda Cheap Trick-meets-Marianne Faithful.  Russell Arcara & DJG turn on the Hunky Dory-era Bowie for “Tomorrow May Never Come,” which features a tasty banjo and slide guitar.  Yes, I used the word “tasty” on a Yoko Ono composition.  Jack Brag’s droning guitar fuels their version of “Walking on Thin Ice.”

Kudos to the compilers who assembled a wide range of styles – from Frankenstein 3000’s furious rocker “Move on Fast” to Garry Novikoff’s geeky reading of “Age 39.”  There’s diverse instrumentation too, from the jangly “Waiting For the Sunrise” from Deena Shoshkes which features a flute, to the accordion on Rebecca Turner’s “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do.”  There’s the power pop confection of Digger Phelps’ “Turned the Corner,”  and the sexy take on “Midsummer New York” from Carolyn Marosy & Donna Deady.  The real standout is Christian Beach’s earthy rendition of “Silver Horse.”  Play this for someone – they’d never guess it was written by Ono.

Sure, a lot of people dislike Yoko Ono.  Yet, while she’s never been considered a gifted vocalist, her real strength has been her ability to challenge the listener.  Cut Pieces may actually be the ultimate challenge: by turning her compositions over to other musicians, it may make you re-examine her talent.  —Tony Peters