allstar rating: 2

Various Artists
Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours

"I Don't Want to Know" (real audio sample)

It's one thing for Fleetwood Mac to reunite and tour and tape a TV special and release a live album of hits. It's quite another for a hodgepodge of current pop artists to pay tribute to their most famous album by coverin g the same tracks in exact song order - and it's just not a good thing.
   For one, the majority of these artists are one- hit- wonder types - Tonic, Matchbox 20, Sister Hazel, and Duncan Sheik, et al - and the best that can be said is that their performances are true to their own styles. Both Matchbox 20 and Sister Hazel, for i nstance, feel the necessity to imbue their choices - "Never Going Back" and "Gold Dust Woman," respectively - with overwrought vocals and sludgey tempos (the former even changes Lindsay Buckingham's charming little tune into a minor- key dirge; unfortunat ely, the song was not meant for that kind of bombastic brooding - Buckingham's original take showed off the song's irony, with its touch of pain surrounding the edges of its lightness).
   It gets worse. Elton John's faux- disco "Don't Stop" is utter variety show gaga; Shawn Colvin, who usually doesn't fall for these sorts of traps, tiptoes through "The Chain" as if fearful of even touching the original's ferocity, and only succeeds in pass ive fawning; the Cranberries choose to ape the exact arrangement of "Go Your Own Way," for some inexplicable reason, and in the process Dolores O'Riordan's breathy vocals and mispronounced words mock the fierceness of Buckingham's original anger, to say n othing of the needless note- for- note guitar outro. Finally, Jewel yodels her way through "You Make Loving Fun," without a hint of Christine McVie's original subtlety, as if she's singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl again.
   Usually in these cases a few sleepers break the monotony, but even those are tough to find. Only the Goo Goo Dolls, of all people, offer a fresh new treatment on their chosen cut, "I Don't Want to Know," instilling it with spontaneous energy, although the y too darken the original with a minor- key interpretation, though not as criminally.
   The only perceptible reason for this album's existence is to showcase these songs to a new, younger generation. The producers of the 1978 film version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band had the same idea, and look where it got them.

-John Bitzer

This review is copyright 1996, 1997 of N2K Inc. From Allstar, the better online music magazine