As a general rule, I think tribute albums are an awful, awful idea.
I might not be as inclined to think this if tribute albums to such artists as the Smiths, Bob Dylan, and the Who were not so downright awful. I'm not against cover songs by any stretch, but it seems that very little to no time was put into actually practicing these songs enough to record for a tribute album. The songs appear more as an afterthought than something for a band to be legitimately proud of. Latest in the long line of tribute albums is for 80's pop act Oingo Boingo.
Dead Bands Party has fourteen different contemporary acts covering fourteen of Oingo Boingo's biggest 80's hits, including Hellogoodbye's rendition of the band's most well-known track, "Weird Science." You wouldn't think a band such as Hellogoodbye could accurately convey the quirky nature of Oingo, but they actually do a fairly decent job. The bouncy track will make you tap your foot and sing along just as you'd have done in the height of their popularity. Also completely nailing their cover is Clear Static trying their hand at "Dead Man's Party." The heavy keyboards and spot on vocals sound absolutely perfect, to the point where I may even prefer this version over the original. May. Also faring quite well on this album are RX Bandits and Reel Big Fish, covering "Grey Matter" and "We Close Our Eyes," respectively. The reggae flavor works surprisingly well for the bands, and the twist on the originals is commendable. I really like that bands from varied backgrounds and styles can sound so tight together as an album, and put their own spin on things while keeping all the same charm as the originals.
The most interesting moment on the tribute comes from female singer/songwriter Jessica Burgan covering "Not My Slave." Burgan's strong voice and plucking on the acoustic guitar offers quite the alternative from the original, but it's actually pretty engaging. I can't say that anybody so much as butchers their designated track, but I could probably do without the Rocky Raccoons' "Little Girls" and the Suburban Legends' "On the Outside." No, they're not horrible, but they aren't up to par with the surprising level of effort put into covering the other songs to be found here.
For both new and returning fans of the 80's pop act, all the quirkiness, bouncy rhythms, and fun that put Oingo Boingo in the spotlight in the first place is here. Every band on this tribute deserves credit, because it's obvious to anybody they did their best to capture what gained the bands a draw those twenty something years ago.