Just Tell Me That You Want Me is a bit of a wild card on the scene today. It’s a tribute album to Fleetwood Mac, undoubtedly one of the greatest bands of all time, put out by Concord Music Group, who specializes in jazz and reissues of classic rock and pop records (none of which are Fleetwood Mac records). Concord has very little connection to any of the artists chosen to cover these phenomenal songs. Plus, the group of bands chosen is very eclectic, and only a handful of these have any connection with each other. At any rate, a good tribute album is hard to do, especially when the band you are dealing with is so well-loved. But maybe – just maybe – all of these factors put together make Just Tell Me That You Want Me a decent tribute album. Sure, it’s a bit discontinuous at times, but for the most part, the album is full of surprises, and some of these cuts are pretty flippin sweet.
As is typical of tribute albums, there are two approaches to the tracks found here. The first is where a band takes the song and translates it to their own style and vibe. The second is where the band pushes themselves out of their usual style into territory tread by the original song. With Just Tell Me That You Want Me, the cuts from the former category definitely win out. California surf pop group Gardens & Villa do a marvelous job adapting classic Mirage track “Gypsy” to their aesthetic. Chris Lynch mans the original piano melody on his flute while Adam Rasmussen punches out a gorgeous synth chord progression. While the tribute is as respectful as can be, it could easily fit in on their excellent self-titled record if given the chance.
The Kills do similar things with their take on Rumors highlight “Dreams”. In its original form, “Dreams” is the hook to end all hooks with building harmonies and instrumental textures. It’s entirely deceptive to the seriously pissed-off lyrics of Stevie Nicks. In the Kills take, Alison Mosshart plays heavier on the heartbreak. The guitar textures are sparse, and there is virtually no vocal harmony until the very end. Rather, as the energy builds, animalistic drums clang here and there while Alison howls away. It’s “Dreams” with an anxiety attack, like Mosshart is trying to convey her own response to Nicks’ situation. It’s gorgeous and haunting and is everything a tribute is meant to be.
Some of these covers come completely out of left field. MGMT’s take on the psychedelic trip of “Future Games” is noisier and even more obscure than the original. Andrew VanWyngarden throws all his vocals through a spacey filter so you can hardly understand him. After about the halfway mark, the track spirals into experimental territory until the original is all but gone. But then again, this isn’t completely disrespectful of the song – after all, it was intended to be pretty disorienting. MGMT just took it to another level. In a similar way, Craig Wedren and St. Vincent take Tusk track “Sisters of the Moon” in a staticky rock-infused direction. While the result may not please some fans of the classic, it’s certainly a fresh take.
Other fun tracks include the beautiful “Silver Springs” tribute by Lykke Li and the pop magic of Best Coast on “Rhiannon”. Finally, Karen Elson’s take on “Gold Dust Woman” is surprisingly cool. She equips a Beck-esque sound, mixing steel guitar and electronic drums to breathe odd new life into the Rumors cut. If you’d like to sample more of the record, visit the Concord Music Group Soundcloud page here. Just Tell Me That You Want Me is available now on CD and digitally.