Review Revue: Yo La Tengo ‒ Fakebook

As you’ve probably noticed over the almost 3 years (!) of this particular blog series, the KCMU DJs were not just a bunch of opinionated jerks; they were quite intelligent and, usually, pretty knowledgeable about the music they were writing about (just like their current KEXP counterparts). It’s easy enough to compare these album-cover reviews to an internet discussion board or forum, filled with trolls, sniping, and backtalk. But they also contain one of the best attributes of the Internet: the ability to harness the wisdom of crowds and spread collaborative knowledge quickly and efficiently to those who need it.

Yo La Tengo, of course, needs no introduction. Here is where I would normally write a few words about the particular album we’re looking at today, but I must say “JS” had it admirably covered about 20 years ago:

“A ‘fake book’ is a collection of sheet music for popular songs in basic voice/melody/chord form; jazz musicians use them to memorize popular songs [coincidentally, Yo La Tengo’s most recent album is called Popular Songs] for improvisation. Yo La Tengo use that idea here, combining covers of obscure songs from other bands with originals, some (I think) from their own back catalog, such as 1.4. They’re pretty quiet on this LP, especially compared to the noisy jams on the last release [President Yo La Tengo]. For the covers, the bands are (at least from what I know): 1.5 The Scene Is Now; 1.6 Flamin’ Groovies; 1.8 Daniel Johnston; 2.1 Byrds; 2.3 Kinks; 2.5 Escorts; 2.6 John Cale; 2.8 NRBQ. Done well.”

“1.3 Cat Stevens. [A couple more: 1.2 Holy Modal Rounders; 1.7 Rex Garvin.] Ahh . . . the art of the song . . . simple ideas played clean & sweet. Finger popping tunes that I like!”

“Doesn’t hold my interest for too long.”

“Me neither.”

“Can I go now?”

“This is excellent! This band just gets better & better.”

“Requesting move to H?”

“I second that. This has grown better w/time.”

“Yeah — H!”

“A really nice & melodious album. Beautiful guitars & harmony vocals.”

“I groan every time I have to play this, but when I hear it on the airwaves I really like it.”

“Hey! Me too!” [This last sentiment is very interesting, and I wonder if it’s something that a lot of DJs find themselves feeling? Curious.]

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