Rubaiyat: Elektra’s 40th Anniversary (1990)

This is an interesting idea: 38 songs from Elektra’s back catalog performed in the idiom of 38 artists from their current roster, some of whom (The Cure, Linda Ronstadt) have the distinction of being both interpreter and interpretee. That said, if you were to allocate 120 minutes and 20 bucks to every interesting idea that crossed your path, you’d be more than a dollar short and a day late. I listened to this simply because I wanted to hear The Cure’s version of The Doors’ “Hello I Love You.” Elektra did me the kindness of putting that track first, so after five minutes I could have begged off a little wiser (if none the richer) and spent the next 115 minutes saving the world or filing paper or something in between. Instead, I stuck it out for the whole elektrafixation and was rewarded with a few more surprises: Billy Bragg steamrolling through “Seven And Seven Is,” The Sugarcubes messing with “Motorcycle Mama,” a Spanish version of “Hotel California” by the Gipsy Kings, Television’s “Marquee Moon” in a classical light, Jon Zorn demolishing The Stooges’ “TV Eye,” that sort of thing. The concept fails as often as not, though, largely because I didn’t care about the originals to begin with. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of half of these songs, and I grew up in the 70s. Appearances by Metallica, They Might Be Giants and Pixies are wasted on poorly matched songs that don’t deserve the attention. Too many obscure artists on both sides of the interpretations ultimately undermine Rubaiyat. Yes, this is a celebration of Elektra’s eclectic history, but I’ve worked in marketing too many years not to smell a cross-sell. Outside of a desire to hear more of The Sugarcubes, I wasn’t sold on digging any deeper into Elektra’s roster old or new.

The Songs
Disc One
1. THE CURE: Hello I Love You (The Doors) 3:35
2. TRACY CHAPMAN: House of The Rising Sun (Traditional) 2:00
3. BILLY BRAGG: Seven & Seven Is (Arthur Lee) 2:11
4. JEVETTA STEELE: I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (Bill Backer/Billy Davis/Roger Cook/Roger Greenaway) 4:10
5. GIPSY KINGS: Hotel California (Don Felder/Don Henley/Glenn Frey) 5:45
6. THE BLACK VELVET BAND: Werewolves of London (Leroy P. Marinell/Waddy Wachtel/Warren Zevon) 3:38
7. THE SUGARCUBES: Motorcycle Mama (John Wyker) 3:44
8. SHINEHEAD: One Meatball (Hy Zaret/Lou Singer) 4:37
9. THE HAVALINAS: Bottle of Wine (Tom Paxton) 3:25
10. PIXIES: Born In Chicago (Nick Gravenites) 2:12
11. FASTER PUSSYCAT: You’re So Vain (Carly Simon) 4:08
12. KRONOS QUARTET: Marquee Moon (Tom Verlaine) 4:12
13. PHOEBE SNOW: Get Ourselves Together (Bonnie Bramlett/Carl Radle) 4:16
14. HAPPY MONDAYS: Tokoloshe Man (John Kongos) 4:16
15. ERNIE ISLEY: Let’s Go (Ric Ocasek) 4:31
16. LYNCH MOB: Going Down (Don Nix) 3:36
17. AMBITIOUS LOVERS: A Little Bit of Rain (Fred Neil) 3:16
18. ANITA BAKER: You Belong To Me (Carly Simon/Michael McDonald) 4:40
19. HOWARD JONES: Road To Cairo (David Ackles) 5:33

Disc Two
1. THE BIG F: Kick Out The Jams (MC5) 4:02
2. THE GEORGIA SATELLITES: Almost Saturday Night/Rockin’ All Over The World (John C. Fogerty) 4:03
3. SARA HICKMAN: Hello, I Am Your Heart (Dennis Linde) 2:45
4. TEDDY PENDERGRASS: Make It With You (David Gates) 5:28
5. LINDA RONSTADT: The Blacksmith (Traditional) 2:42
7. JACKSON BROWNE: First Girl I Loved (Robin Williamson) 3:44
8. 10,000 MANIACS: These Days (Jackson Browne)   3:21
9. METALLICA: Stone Cold Crazy (Freddie Mercury/Brian May/Roger Taylor/John Deacon) 2:12
10. DANNY GATTON: Apricot Brandy (Danny Weis/Michael Fonfara) 3:25
11. SHAKING FAMILY: Union Man (Earl Cates/Ernie Cates/Steve Cropper) 3:57
12. THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: One More Parade (Phil Ochs/Bob Gibson) 2:20
13. HOWARD HEWETT: I Can’t Tell You Why (Timothy B. Schmit/Don Henley/Glenn Frey) 3:50
14. LEADERS OF THE NEW SCHOOL: Mt. Airy Groove (Daniel Harmon/James Lloyd/Cedric Napoleon) 4:39
15. SHIRLEY MURDOCK: You Brought The Sunshine (Elbernita “Twinkle” Clark) 4:15
16. JOHN EDDIE: Inbetween Days (Robert Smith) 3:56
17. THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH: Love Wars (Cecil Womack/Linda Womack) 4:33
18. MICHAEL FEINSTEIN: Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell) 5:10
19. JOHN ZORN: T.V. Eye (The Stooges) 2:23
20. THE CURE: Hello I Love You (Slight Return) (The Doors) 0:10

The Players
Concept by Bob Krasnow. Executive producer: Lenny Kaye. AMBITIOUS LOVERS: Arto Lindsay (vocals, guitar), Peter Scherer (keyboards, synth bass), Billy “Spaceman” Patterson (guitar), Dougie Brown (drums), Cyro Baptista (percussion); produced by Peter Scherer, engineered by Jason Baker, mixed by Roger Moutenot. ANITA BAKER: Anita Baker (lead vocals, background vocals), Robbie Kondor (keyboards & programming), Joe Mardin (hi-hats and cymbals), John McCurry (guitar), Andy Snitzer (saxophone), Anthony Jackson (bass); produced by Arif Mardin, arranged by Arif Mardin and Robbie Kondor, engineered by Michael O’Reilly and Gerard Smerek. THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH: Paul Heaton (vocals), Dave Hemingway (vocals), Sean Welch (bass guitar), David Rotheray (guitar), David Stead (drums), Brianna Corrigan (vocals), Damon Butcher (piano/keyboards), Tony Robinson (trumpet), Gary Birtles (sax), Kevin Brown (sax); produced by Lenny Kaye, engineered by Jeffrey K. Dovner. THE BIG F: John Shreve (vocals, bass), Rob Donin (drums), Mark Christian (guitar); produced by The Big F, engineered by Joey Wolpert. THE BLACK VELVET BAND: Kieran Kennedy (lead vocal, acoustic guitar), Maria Doyle (harmony vocal), Shay Fitzgerald (bass guitar), Dave Horner (drums), Ronan Johnston (accordion, Hammond organ), Liam Murphy (electric guitar); produced by Kieran Kennedy, engineered by Nick Davies. BILLY BRAGG: Billy Bragg (vocals, rhythm guitar, stylophone solo), Wiggy (bass), Fred Hood (drums), Justin Adams (dueling guitar); produced by Grant Showbiz, engineered by Step Parikian. JACKSON BROWNE: Jackson Browne (vocals, guitar, piano), Charles Domanico (bass), David Lindley (violin), Luis Conte (percussion), Daryl Hannah (backing vocals); produced by Pete Anderson, arranged by Pete Anderson & Jackson Browne, Barbara Hein (production assistant), recorded by Dusty Wakeman & Terry Becker, mixed by Bill Schnee. TRACY CHAPMAN: Tracy Chapman (vocals, guitar), Kevin O’Neal (bass), Rock Deadrich (drums), Roy Bittan (piano), Waddy Wachtel (guitar), Michael Fisher (percussion); produced by Jimmy Iovine, engineered & mixed by Thom Panunzio. THE CURE: Robert Smith, Porl Thompson, Simon Gallup, Boris Williams, Roger O’Donnell; produced by The Cure & Steve Whitfield, mixed by Brian “Chuck” New. JOHN EDDIE: John Eddie (vocals, acoustic guitars), Joe Sweeney (guitar), P.K. Lavengood (guitar), Shawn Pelton (drums), Michael Stanzilis (bass), Everett Bradley (percussion, keyboards, vocals), K.B. Nicholas (vocals); produced by Michael Frondelli and John Eddie, engineered by Michael Frondelli and Brian Stover, mixed by Michael Frondelli. FASTER PUSSYCAT: Greg Steele (guitar), Eric Stacy (bass), Brent Muscat (guitars, background vocals), Taime Downe (vocals), Mark Michals (drums); produced by Faster Pussycat, mixed by John Jansen, engineered by Ryan Dorn. MICHAEL FEINSTEIN: Michael Feinstein (vocals, piano); produced, arranged and conducted by Ian Bernard; engineered by Hank Cicalo. BILL FRISELL/ROBIN HOLCOMB/WAYNE HORVITZ: Bill Frisell (guitar), Wayne Horvitz (piano, keyboards), Robin Holcomb (vocals), Dave Hofstra (bass), Danny Frankel (drums); produced and arranged by Wayne Horvitz and Bill Frisell, engineered by Jay Follette. DANNY GATTON: Danny Gatton (guitar), Bill Holloman (Hammond B3 organ, saxes, trumpet, horn arrangement), John Previti (bass), Shannon Ford (drums); produced by Danny Gatton, engineered by George Cowan, Ian Kimmett (executive producer). THE GEORGIA SATELLITES: Rick Price (bass), Dan Baird (guitars, vocals), Mauro Magellan (drums), Rick Richards (guitars, vocals); produced by Dan Baird, engineered by Ed Miller, mixed by Joe Hardy. GIPSY KINGS: Nicolas Reyes (lead vocals, lyrics translation), Toriino Balirado (lead guitar), Andre Reyes (rhythm guitar, background vocals), Canut Reyes (rhythm guitar), Chico Bouchikhi (rhythm guitar), Diego Baliardo (rhythm guitar), Paco Baliardo (rhythm guitar), Gerard Prevost (bass, arrangement), Dominique Droin (keyboard), Negrito Crocco Trasante (drums, percussion, lyrics translation), Charles Benaroch (percussion); produced by Claude Martinez, engineered by Roger Moutenot. HAPPY MONDAYS: Bez (percussion, freaky dancing), Shaun Ryder (vocals), Paul Ryder (bass guitar), Paul Davies (keyboards), Gary Wheelan (drums); produced by Paul Oakenfold & Steve Osborne. THE HAVALINAS: Tim McConnell (vocals, guitar, accordion, octave mandolin, piano, dobro), Chalo Quintana (drums, backing vocals, percussion), Smutty Smith (acoustic upright bass); produced by The Havalinas and Rob Xeno, engineered by Rob Xeno. HOWARD HEWETT: Howard Hewett (vocals, background vocals), Christopher Bruce (guitar), Nia Peeples-Hewett (background vocals); produced by Howard Hewett, keyboard and track arrangement by Mont Seward, engineered by Carmen Rizzo. SARA HICKMAN: Sara Hickman (vocals, guitar), Art Neville (keyboards, vocals), George Parker, Jr. (bass, vocals), Leo Nocentelli (guitar), Russell Baptiste (drums, percussion), J. Rosie Rasato (percussion); produced by David Kershenbaum, arranged by Sara Hickman, engineered by Jay Gallagher, mixed by Kevin Smith. ERNIE ISLEY: Ernie Isley (guitars & vocals), Phil Shenale (programming); produced by Davitt Sigerson, engineered by John Carter, mixed by John Beverly Jones. HOWARD JONES: Howard Jones (vocals, keyboards & programming), Phil Palmer (guitar), Pino Palladino (bass); produced by Howard Jones, engineered and mixed by Andrew Scarth. KRONOS QUARTET: David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), John Dutt (viola), Joan Jeanrenaud (cello); produced by Judy Sherman, arranged for Kronos by Steve Mackey. LEADERS OF THE NEW SCHOOL: Charlie Brown (vocals), Dinco D (vocals), Cut Monitor (cuts), The Rumpelstiltskins & The Crackerjacks (additional vocals); produced by SD 50 Mob. LYNCH MOB: George Lynch (guitar), Oni Logan (vocals), Anthony Esposito (bass), Mick Brown (drums); produced by Lynch Mob, engineered by Russ Graves, mixed by Max Norman. METALLICA: James Hetfield (rhythm guitar, vocals), Lars Ulrich (drums), Kirk Hammett (lead guitar), Jason Newsted (bass); kind of produced by Metallica, engineered by Toby “Rage” Wright. SHIRLEY MURDOCK: Shirley Murdock (vocals, background vocals), Lester Troutman (drums, percussion), Roger Troutman (lead, rhythm and bass guitars, keyboards), Sherman Fleetwood (keyboards); produced by Roger Troutman, engineered by Lester Troutman, Zapp Troutman, Sherman Fleetwood, Rufus Troutman III and Dale DeGroat. TEDDY PENDERGRASS: Teddy Pendergrass (vocals, background vocals), Curt Dowd (keyboards & bass), Dave Gardner (guitar), Jim Salamone (drums, percussion & sequencing), Terry Price (background vocals); produced by Teddy Pendergrass & Terry Price, engineered by Mitch Goldfarb, arranged by Teddy Pendergrass, Terry Price, Curt Dowd & Jim Salamone. PIXIES: Black Francis (vocals, guitar), Kim Deal (bass), David Lovering (drums), Joey Santiago (lead guitar); engineered by Steve Albini. LINDA RONSTADT: Linda Ronstadt (vocal); produced by Peter Asher, engineered & mixed by Frank Wolf, Ivy Skoff (production coordinator). SHAKING FAMILY: Barbara Carter (vocals), Vince Emmett (guitar), Brendan Lewis (bass), Tim Chewning (drums), Charles Ellis (keyboards); produced by Mike Wanchic and Larry Crane in association with Vince Emmett and Barbara Carter. SHINEHEAD: Shinehead (vocals), Donovan McKitty (guitars), Lloyd Kross (keyboards), Lawrence Lewis (keyboards); produced by Claude Evans, engineered by Ken Wallace. PHOEBE SNOW: Phoebe Snow (vocals); produced by Rhett Lawrence. JEVETTA STEELE: Jevetta Steele (vocals), Bob Telson (piano), Butch Heyward (organ), Jearlyn Steele-Battle (background vocals), Janice Steele (background vocals), Fred Steele (background vocals), J.D. Steele (background vocals); produced by Bob Telson, vocals engineered by Tom Tucker, engineered & mixed by Ted Spencer. THE SUGARCUBES: Bjork Gudmundsdottir (vocals), Einar Orn (vocals, trumpet), Bragi Olafsson (bass guitar), Margret Ornolfsdottir (keyboards), Sigtryggur Baldursson (drums, percussion), Thor Eldon (guitars); produced and arranged by The Sugarcubes, mixed by Gordon Milne. 10,000 MANIACS: Natalie Merchant (vocals), Robert Buck (guitars), Dennis Drew (keyboards), Jerome Augustyniak (drums), Steven Gustafson (bass); produced by Lenny Kaye, engineered by Joe Barbaria. THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: Produced and recorded by They Might Be Giants, engineered by Paul Angelli, mixed by Roger Moutenot. JOHN ZORN: John Zorn (alto sax), Yamatsuka Eye (vocals), Robert Quine (guitar), Bill Laswell (bass), Ted Epstein (drums); produced & arranged by John Zorn, engineered by Martin Bisi.

The Plastic
Released on 2CD and 2CS on September 24, 1990 in the US (Elektra, 60940-2/4). Creative director: David Bither. Cover art by Doug & Mike Starn. Design by Pat Gorman & Frank Olinksy/Manhattan Design.

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