The New Tributes

One of the most well-intended-but-quickly-turned-rote trends of the '90s was the tribute album: for every decent collection such as The Bridge, or Sgt Pepper Knew My Father, there are dozens like Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin or The Smiths is Dead. (At one point Cleopatra Records was putting out tribute albums like the old K-Tel assembly line in its prime.) Now, there's a twist: with CD sales plummeting the concept is being taken on the road and focused on one--sometimes more--classic albums, and performed by the original artist. In other words, it's practically a tribute to themselves.

Sure, this has been going on for ages. But this year alone Public Enemy, Liz Phair, and the reformed Mission of Burma are among the ones joining the fray. No big surprises there. It's when a decent, but not terribly influential or popular band like Built To Spill goes on the road to perform its most beloved album in its entirety, more than a decade after its release, ypu know something is definitely up. (Touring revenue, for one.)

Billboard has more.