This is the fourth in my series exploring (and revealing, to some of you) albums that seem to be absent from the streaming universe. If you missed my first three segments on this over the last few months, please click here and here and here to catch up.
I appreciate the convenience of streaming as it opens up a lot of music to people; putting vast quantities of the stuff at your fingertips is very appealing. I get it. I do hope that someday the concept will improve with regards to sound quality on some services. I'd like to see a more engaging overall user experience offered as I fear current templates leave many people emotionally disconnected from the music. The terrible royalty structure for artists on streaming needs to be improved -- they aren't making money there folks, the service providers are -- but that is another story entirely...
That aside, it seems that catalog-wise, streaming services are often incomplete. Following are some more tribute and compilation albums which I found conspicuous in their absence from Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz.
I'm Your Fan: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen features a who's who of '80s/'90s alternative rock royalty including The Pixies, R.E.M., James, Lloyd Cole, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Lilac Time, That Petrol Emotion and even one of the fathers of avant garde rock and punk, The Velvet Underground's John Cale. R.E.M.'s version of "First We Take Manhattan" which opens the album is a classic.
The final track performed by John Cale may well be responsible for the exponential public interest in Leonard Cohen's music in the 1990s -- he rearranged the maestro's then-overlooked 1984 album cut "Hallelujah" into a song that has gone on to become beloved the world over. Before Cale's version, Dylan was the first to cover the song in the 80s live, (only twice as I understand). Many people discovered this song because of Jeff Buckley's stunning rendition on his 1994 album called Grace, which was based on John Cale's arrangement. Cale's recording was used in the film Shrek but Rufus Wainright performs it on the soundtrack album. It remains a stunning work.
A Testimonial Dinner - Songs of XTC was an instant favorite when it came out on the Thirsty Ear label, with its many surprising artists paying tribute to one of my favorite bands, XTC. Where else can you hear no less than Joe Jackson doing a cover of "Statue of Liberty," The Verve Pipe doing "Wake Up" and even Spacehog doing "Senses Working Overtime." There are many other surprises making this one worth seeking out including They Might Be Giants doing "25 O'Clock," and even Ruben Blades singing "The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul."
Till The Night Is Gone : A Tribute to Doc Pomus is a wonderful memorial for the writer of legendary pop hits including "Young Blood," "Save The Last Dance For Me" and "This Magic Moment." On this fine album you'll hear no less than Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Brian Wilson, B.B. King, Solomon Burke, Aaron Neville, Shawn Colvin, Los Lobos, Irma Thomas, Dion and The Band, and many others covering his fine songs. Why this album isn't on the streaming services I don't know. But you can still find it on CD and you should probably grab this one.
Gumby (aka The Green Album) was one of the first tribute CDs that I remember coming out in the late '80. I thought it was a whole lot of fun then and still do today! So, yes, this is an album dedicated to the legendary clay-animated character from the 1950s and '60s named Gumby.
Now, you may want to come along for the ride with the king of green because of Dweezil Zappa, Brave Combo, Sly and Robbie's and even Jonathan Richman's presence. But the real reason you want to have this album in your collection is because it contains a track by no less than Flo and Eddie (a.k.a. Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan of The Turtles and Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention)!
Here on The Green Album they deliver a fantastic Beatles-inspired homage titled "We All Are Gumby." This was written by Grammy-winning composer Michael Silversher who has crafted songs for Disney and the Jim Henson company for many years. This song remains one of my all time favorite "I Am The Walrus"-styled Beatle tributes, standing up proudly alongside The Rutles' "Piggy In The Middle" and The Dukes of Stratosphear's "Mole From The Ministry." A standout track on the album and well worth the price of admission just to own it,"We All Are Gumby" is only available on this little green CD!
If ever there was an album that was prime for a Record Store Day renaissance on first time vinyl, Gumby's The Green Album is it... Just sayin'! But for now I'm grateful to still have my Gumby CD. It sells for quite a bit online these days and I've not found it on Spotify, Tidal or Qobuz.