"Skrang: Sounds Like Bobby Sutliff," Various Artists (www.paisleypop.com)
In June 2012, longtime alt-rocker Bobby Sutliff had a car wreck near his home in Powell, Ohio. Sutliff, a veteran of the almost-famous 1980s Mississippi college rock favorites The Windbreakers, barely survived. Knowing the sort of hospital bills Sutliff would be saddled with, friends, including former Windbreakers co-frontman (and Knoxville resident) Tim Lee began recording a Sutliff tribute album to help raise money — Sutliff's songs reinterpreted by 18 different acts.
The result is a cool romp through some great songs written by an artist many listeners might not have otherwise known. None of the contributors are household names. Will Kimbrough, Peter Holsapple (of the dB's), Bill Lloyd (Foster and Lloyd), John Stirratt (Wilco), Velvet Crush (featuring Matthew Sweet) are probably the best known of the lot.
But the music by all the artists is pretty great. Most acts go for the power pop sound that Sutliff himself created. In fact, it sometimes feels like the album is recorded by one group. It's that happy, jangly sound of all those bands that fell in love with The Byrds and Big Star in the late 1970s and early 1980s — long after those groups had disbanded. It's rock 'n' roll that's easy to love.
Holsapple's cover of "Ballygrand" sounds like vintage dB's mixed with classic-era Todd Rundgren.
Donovan's Brain's "Oh Lorelei" adds some lighthearted psychedelia.
Michael Carpenter's "Long Red Bottle of Wine" is filled with layered vocals and guitars that instantly dig beneath your skin in the best way.
Don Dixon's contribution, "New Red Shoes," is a simple downbeat cover that doesn't sound dated at all. And despite the even older sound of the Tim Lee 3's "I Thought You Knew" (that guitar-riff could've come straight from the "Nuggets" collection), the TL3 add a harder edge than most of the assembled.
Jeff Lewis' take on "Elam Bridge" and Kirk Swan's delivery of "From a Distance" have a hint of modern Americana.
The Anderson Council opens with a riff that sounds like an alternate riff from The Beatles' "Rain" and then manages to sound contemporary.
Less than a year after Sutliff's accident he is working toward a complete recovery. "Skrang" might lead new fans to an artist who deserves to be a lot better known.
"Playlist: The Very Best of the Box Tops," The Box Tops (Bell/Arista/Legacy)
Speaking of Big Star, Alex Chilton's earlier band The Box Tops have been in need of an album that collects the group's single in mono.
This 14-track collection presents "The Letter," "Cry Like a Baby," "Neon Rainbow" and other singles and B-sides as they were first heard on AM radio.
No lesser-known track is nearly as strong as "The Letter," but it's a fun flashback from one of Memphis' best pop acts.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!