Monday, September 28, 2015

A Trawl Through Yo La Tengo's Record Collection

I must admit that I was slightly disappointed a few weeks ago when I realised that the new Yo La Tengo album - which I had just purchased on a whim from Spillers Records - was basically a covers album. Of the 14 tracks that make up Stuff Like That There, only 5 are YLT originals, and 3 of those (All Your Secrets, The Ballad of Red Buckets, and Deeper Into Movies) are simply re-recorded versions of songs from previous albums. What a waste of a tenner, I thought to myself that day as I wished I had bought the new Iron Maiden release instead.

However, I may owe Yo La Tengo an apology, because Stuff Like That There is actually far more up my street than I initially anticipated. For starters, the matter of who wrote which songs does nothing to change the fact that this is a lovely-sounding LP; the whole work has a gentle, laid-back feel that makes it an appropriate soundtrack for both sunny summer days and cosy autumn evenings.

Additionally, were it not for the presence of Friday I'm in LoveI'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, and a tell-tale sticker on the front of the CD case, I would never have guessed that this album consisted of anything but new and original material. Some of the artists to whom YLT pay homage here are seriously obscure - Automatic Doom authors Special Pillow don't even have a Wikipedia page! - and I'm sufficiently unfamiliar with the band's back catalogue that All Your Secrets and The Ballad of Red Buckets were completely new to me when I first gave this collection a spin. Even Deeper Into Movies, which originally featured on the only other Yo La Tengo CD I do have, had tickled my eardrums a fair few times before I cogged that I already knew it.

For comparison, here's the original...

...and here's the SLTT version. Would YOU have realised that it's the same song?

But now that I've made my peace with the nature of Stuff Like That There, the fact that its tracklist consists predominantly of other people's songs has actually become one of my favourite things about it. It sounds like Georgia, Ira, James and Dave (thanks, the internet!) just sat down with their extensive record collections, revisited all their old favourites, looked up the chords, and nonchalantly jammed them out, throwing in some oldies of their own and a couple of new compositions for good measure.

I blog about all the albums I love. It seems like Yo La Tengo's members, when rooting through their own personal Album Walls, prefer to consolidate that experience by turning all those old albums into something brand new.

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