VARIOUS ARTISTS

We're a Happy Family: A Tribute to the Ramones

(DV8/Columbia)

Paying homage to da bruddahs.

No reason to overstate the obvious. The Ramones'

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CD Reviews

VARIOUS ARTISTS

We're a Happy Family: A Tribute to the Ramones

(DV8/Columbia)

Paying homage to da bruddahs.

No reason to overstate the obvious. The Ramones' hard, loud, fast adenoidal Queens borough rawkthe very root of '70s punkwas and is an iconoclastic sound; its simplicity impossible to replicate, its intent impossible not to. With Joey and Dee Dee gone to the great glue-sniffing factory in the sky, testaments to their delirious sound were inevitable. So why not have at least one cover-tribute thing be great, as well as sanctioned by a Real Ramoneguitarist Johnny, who along with Rob Zombie, hand plucked artists and tunes to re-enact the Ramones' oeuvre (if you can use such a highfalutin word in regard to the Ramones). It's no surprise Green Day, Rancid, or the Offspringall bastard exactors of Johnny Ramone's tough, sololess punk roarlamely (or gamely, depending on how you feel about imitation vs. flattery) recall hits like "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" and "I Wanna Be Sedated." Metallica's take on "53rd & 3rd" and U2's "Beat on the Brat" sound exactly like you'd expectrespectively head crunching and anthemic. If you're looking for something ostentatious and original, go no further than Tom Waits (who turns "Return of Jackie and Judy" into a monster-truck-stomping hoot), John Frusciante (a ferocious fearful "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World"), or Pete Yorn, who makes "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" a most convincingly pleading ballad. While Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eddie Vedder, and the Pretenders reduce the speed and remove the joy from their respective Ramone-a-moaners (and let's not even discuss Marilyn Mansonugh), thank god for KISS, who put the sex and the celebration right back into the horny "Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?" If you don't, KISS do, slamming AM listeners and Ramones freaks alike with a passionate, stupid plea for stupidity and la-bot-o-my. A.D. AMOROSI

IDLEWILD

The Remote Part

(Capitol)

American college rock done Scot-style.

Crafty American record buyers could probably float to the United Kingdom on a small sailboat made out of all the earnest guitar-pop CDs that country's sent our way over the last couple of years. (Yes, even crafty record buyers in Seattle.) But stop for a second before you use Idlewild's third album as a rudder: Since forming in the mid-'90s, these young Scots have gotten remarkably good at retooling vintage U.S. college rock in their own image, lacing raw Hsker D/Sonic Youth guitar roar with strident but pretty vocal melodies and distinguishing their young-person angst with plucky reflections on Gertrude Stein and the postmodern condition. The Remote Part is the band's best effort yeta rich, layered guitar record that plays like a gruff transatlantic version of the best American emo, singer Roddy Woomble airing his wordy insecurities over the rhythm section's muscular grounding and guitarist Rod Jones' dynamic playing. Actually, they occasionally improve on the Jimmy Eat World set, since there's an undercurrent of reserve to their music that gives it a depth most emo bands seem to view as wasted space; in the aptly titled "American English," Woomble scrapes the upper reaches of his register, but only long enough to establish a whiff of urgency. MIKAEL WOOD

Idlewild play Graceland at 9 p.m. Friday, March 28 with French Kicks and the Natural History. $10

FAUX JEAN

Nature

(Susstones)

All the young dudes . . . and a couple of chicks, too.

Word on the street is that these cats were all set to become the next Big Thing Outta Minneapolis, but that grandiose rock 'n' roll scheme toppled and fell the way grandiose rock 'n' roll schemes often do. Oh well, I'd say it's just as well. Faux Jean, a modish boy/girl collective of anglophiles and fashionistas, make laid-back rave-ups that slip in between the Rolling Stones and the Stone Roses. On this rerelease of their 2000 debut, which includes the original 12 tracks plus nine extras, all 21 songs find a way to say "Let It Bleed" and "I Wanna Be Adored." Speaking of grandiose, "Flight of the Bumblebee" might just be the first classical/glam fusion track ever. Vocals mimic little girls in pigtails while the keyboards chirp, and a frenzied hyperactive beat supports the jangling guitars that careen quickly left and then right. On its heels, "Tuesday Scene" and "G-A-Go-Go" are as fuzzed, pompous, and groovy as you can stand them to be (and then some), but they're innocent, sweet, and silly, tooand that's what saves them. And, really, what if Jonathan Richman took a turn fronting T. Rex or Mott the Hoople? I mean, what if? Tracks like "Mrs. Jean" pretty much beg for a pouting lip and some stage strutting, and, figuratively at least, frontman Matty Schindler delivers. "But instead I lost my mind," he cries, stretching the word "mind" out as if it contains several thousand i's and arching it dramatically with what must be his trademark falsetto. I wonder if Prince knows he's been replaced. LAURA CASSIDY

 
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