Various Artists, Spawn (Again): A Tribute To Silverchair
Silverchair have always made me feel a bit gooey. Five minutes of listening to Frogstomp, Freak Show, Neon Ballroom, Diorama or Young Modern and I start to melt – listen all the way through to any of those records and I’m barely more than a puddle. Clearly, I’m not the only one. All the bands covering ’Chair tracks here are equally in awe of singer/guitarist Daniel Johns, drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou. And I may be quite prepared to spend all day staring at my posters of Johns but I bet this bunch of crazies deserve a restraining order even more than me. Particularly as they’re all from Oz and and living within actual stalking distance of the band.
Whatever. It makes me feel pretty perky to know so many artists respect Silverchair as much as I do. The UK has always treated them a bit shabbily – their last record didn’t even get an official release over here (tsk) – and it warms my cockles to know that I’m not the only superfan of Australia’s best band ever. And, naturally, given that this tribute album is home to songs as life-changing as Freak and Anthem For The Year 2000, it’s a pleasure to listen to.
Nonetheless, it’s still true that the four tracks lifted from Silverchair’s first two records sound way too polished to have much in common with the teenagers that originally produced them. There’s just something a bit too macho about The Brave’s version of Cemetery, but, hey, that song came out two decades ago (whaaaaat??!) and it’s interesting to hear it updated. Israel’s Son makes for intriguing listening too as it’s the track that gets the biggest refashioning. Back in 1995, it sounded like a Pearl Jam cover; here, it gets a bruising metal makeover from the bruisingly metal Void of Vision.
Unsurprisingly it’s the delicious Hands Like Houses who come up smelling rosiest here. The details they add to Ana’s Song don’t necessarily improve it (how could they?) but it’s a sensitive rendition and Australia’s finest new rock outfit make sure this perfect song retains its perfect essence. Plus, Trenton Woodley does a pretty good Daniel Johns impression. It’s enough to start making me feel all tingly.
Ironically, though, it’s Tonight Alive and Columbus who do the best job of highlighting how amazing a band Silverchair were, albeit not quite in the way they might have intended. Their versions of Without You and Straight Lines lack subtlety and the fact that they can’t capture the magic that made those later songs so original goes to show how completely Johns and co. transcended the potential of most other artists. Silverchair were in possession of a real magic and, yes, their gorgeous songs are bulletproof enough to make this an exciting tribute album, but you’ll need to revisit the band’s original versions if you really want to feel the stardust. And the goo.
Spawn (Again) – A Tribute To Silverchair is out this Friday (17th November)