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Rude Awakening - "A Tribute To Thin Lizzy" (CD)

Rude Awakening - "A Tribute To Thin Lizzy" CD cover image

"A Tribute To Thin Lizzy" track listing:

1. Jailbreak
2. Don't Believe A Word
3. Hollywood
4. Wild One
5. Johnny The Fox
6. Cowboy Song
7. Boys Are Back In TOwn
8. Emerald
9. Still In Love With You
10. Massacre
11. It's Only Money
12. Sha La La
13. Warrior

Reviewed by on August 18, 2008

"They lack the wild energy and the spontaneity of their heroes."

Most bands go heavy on the covers in their early days and then abandon the "cover band" stigma as they develop their own style. Rude Awakening, a power metal five piece from Hollywood, did it backwards. They have twenty years of touring experience, off-and-on, and "A Tribute To Thin Lizzy" is their tenth album. Rude Awakening has taken up the mission of recreating thirteen Thin Lizzy classics, from "Jailbreak" to "Emerald" and "Cowboy Song."

Obviously, this is a labor of love from five hard working and passionate musicians. Rude Awakening has more than enough cred and experience to pay the bills with their own compositions. It's no stretch to guess they recorded "A Tribute To Thin Lizzy" out of pure respect for the near forgotten Irish metal pioneers. I hate to pan this album, because its intentions are so pure, but Rude Awakening's versions are all incredibly boring, monotonous, and pointless.

Obviously, no cover version is worth recording if it only aims to recapture the original. That's why a great tribute band like Michael White And The White can fill venues with head bangers hungry for a nostalgia trip (in their case, Led Zeppelin), but nobody collects Michael White albums. That's because the Zeppelin discs already exist.

Rude Awakening's tribute album has this problem, but far worse. Their versions of Thin Lizzy songs have all the pieces in place, but you'd only think they were the originals if they were playing on a quiet stereo down the hall. Up close, the updated versions add nothing new to the songs. Rude Awakening only subtract from the brilliant originals, and on "A Tribute To Thin Lizzy," they lack the wild energy and the spontaneity of their heroes.

The mediocre production drowns every guitar texture in a stompy, over bassy murk, and throws the vocals right out in front to compensate. Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott was one of the great rock vocalists of the 70s, but Rude Awakening vocalist Mitch Urban just sounds like Lynott on a bad day. He sleepwalks through the thirteen songs, hitting the right notes but providing only a caricature of Lynott's intense presence. For the ballad oriented material, like the delicate intro to "Cowboy Song," Urban pretends the originals had no subtlety at all. He delivers every slow or soft part in a bland, bored croon, and generally seems like he can't wait to jump around and bellow.

It's all a competent recreation, but pointless. In metal circles, Thin Lizzy deserve to be famous for breaking new ground, such as their pioneering use of dual guitar harmonies, for instance, and their willingness to turn blistering epics into soft ballads and back again. But their innovations happened thirty years ago, and when Rude Awakening covers such old ground without adding a single new idea, they're pretending that heavy metal stopped cold after Thin Lizzy. That does the originals no respect at all.

Highs: At times you could almost mistake it for Thin Lizzy.

Lows: Too bland and mediocre to do Thin Lizzy's legacy any justice.

Bottom line: Connect-the-dots recreations of some brilliant classics. Listen to the originals instead.

Rated 2.0 out of 5 skulls
2.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)