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Friday, March 20, 2009



"Judy and Mary 15th Anniversary Tribute Album"

Staff Writer

If ever a pop group deserved a tribute, it's Judy and Mary. Somehow managing to pull off the rare feat of being both chart-friendly and terrifyingly talented, between 1993 and 2001 the band (none of whom were called Judy or Mary) birthed hit after guitar-pop hit, each as amazing as the last. This lends itself well to reinterpretation, but beware: This tribute CD is a mixed bag.

News photo

With all but one artist hailing from Sony's stables, it's clear that some were picked not for their love of JaM but in the spirit of cynical promotion. Thus newcomers Shigi and Sawa lend their middling vocals to uninspired versions of "Kyoto" and "Radio" respectively, while Mihimaru GT do their usual trick of making you wish you'd been born deaf. And though Puffy's version of JaM's hyperactive rock-out "Motto" is inventive, a young punk band may have done the song more justice.

There are some great standouts. Tamio Okuda sings "Sanpomichi" with a warm, laid-back slur that sounds like a drunken hobo abusing a studio; pop-hop duo HalCali offer a dancehall version of "Lucky Pool" that is sweetly affecting, if not quite danceable; and school-girl rockers Scandal turn in a growling rendition of "Daydream," one of JaM's darker songs.

Midori's version of the raw, alien "Music Fighter" is a barely listenable jumble of noises, rather than their usual highly charged and very listenable jazz-punk racket. And so the unexpected highlight comes from up 'n' comers School Food Punishment, whose version of "Brand New Wave Upper Ground" echoes the epic production and sonic playfulness that, along with immense songwriting and sheer invention, made Judy and Mary one of the most singular pop bands ever.

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