Various - Rubber Factory Records Presents a Tribute to Leatherface (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Rubber Factory Records Presents a Tribute to Leatherface (2008)

Rubber Factory

There are plenty of tribute albums floating around out there, but there are few bands that legitimately deserve them. Leatherface is a band I can say definitely deserves a tribute, not only because their sound has recognizably been imprinted on dozens of acts, but at the end of the day Frankie Stubbs writes really affecting songs that deserve some sort of recognition. In the end, there can only be one Leatherface, and that is why some of the best moments on Rubber Factory Records Presents a Tribute to Leatherface are by bands that don't sound much at all like the one that is being paid tribute here.

I can certainly appreciate the compiler's desire to make this collection a comprehensive one, as the bands represented here are from all over North America, Europe and Australia. However, the double album proves to be a little long in the tooth by the end of the second disc. A Death in the Family start things off with a cover of "Watching You Sleep," and the most noticeable aspect is that there isn't the great guitar intro like the original. The band slows down the pace a bit from the original and instead of Frankie's slightly jilted spitting out of the lyrics, the male/female vocals build to a more gradual frenzy. The next few songs follow a pattern that is later repeated on the album, where similar gruff-voiced melodic punk bands doing more faithful renditions tend to be grouped together. This helps pace the album, but it also makes the standouts of the genre that much more prominent, such as the contributions by the Sainte Catherines and Hot Water Music. While there are some good stripped-down acoustic versions of songs on the first disc, the real highlights come in the form of the Rosie Thomas Band's fiddle-and-mandolin-infused "Discipline" and the Gunshy's Tom Waits-esque "In My Life." Mike Hale ends the first disc in fine fashion, not with a cover but his original "Leatherface Fan" which is a charming tribute to the bands he loves, including Leatherface.

If I had to end the review here, things would be rather positive in terms of song selection, pacing and structure, but the second disc unfortunately trips up much of the positive aspects of the first. Anthem Red's huge-sounding power-pop cover of Pope's "Plebs" is a promising start, but it becomes clear that the majority of the bands on this disc follow a little too close to the blueprint that Stubbs made and not all of them have the charm of a band like Kover to make up for it. Nothing in Common's bright and bouncy version "Gangparty" is refreshing and 2 Pump Louie's vocalist really carries their cover of "Not a Day Goes By," but by that point you have already been subjected to the horrendous electronic mess of For the Day.

At close to 40 songs, the album is extensive and thoughtfully assembled in both packaging and content, but it can also be a bit exhausting. I understand what Rubber Factory Records was trying to do and they did right by Frankie, but a few more things left on the cutting room floor of this vision and it would have been, on the whole, more successful. I'd still recommend this to any Leatherface fan for the first disc and highlights on the second.