The compilation is dead. Or at least, with iTunes, Spotify and the like edging ever deeper into out musical consciousness, it’s difficult to see how it’s going to survive much longer. After all, what would be the point in buying a CD full of tracks someone else has picked when you can hand pick the ones you want and save a small heap of cash in the process, and check out pretty much any new artist you want to online?
At least that’s what you’d think, but the reality is, with the exception of the chart-centered monotony that is the Now (insert unfeasibly high number here), the increasingly easy access nature of music is forcing those who put together compilation albums to work harder. Take the New Moon soundtrack: what could be a very dull compilation ends up exploring a small heap of unreleased material from the likes of Muse and Thom Yorke, and is suddenly a whole lot more worthy of our hard earned cash.
Jools Holland, of course, had a great chance to make something really special. With years of (sometimes quite brilliantly experimental) live shows to pick from, a compilation exploring the show’s highlights could be something to behold. Sadly, the makers of Live 2 took a somewhat conservative approach to it all, and what’s come out the other end is a largely predictable assortment of live (but typically not overly imaginative) renditions of songs that you’ve mostly heard many, many times before.
Little Boots, for example, demonstrates that (at least on this occasion) she’s not quite got the vocal range necessary to perform -Remedy’ live. Keane’s rendition of -Spiraling’ is note perfect, but never takes even the slightest stride away from the album version, and Friendly Fires -Jump In the Pool’ is just a bit on the toned down, muffled side. All these tracks come a poor second to the versions you’ve already heard.
Having said that, enough exceptional performances do sneak through to make this worth a look. Lisa Hannigan’s -I Don’t Know’ is charmingly simple and alluring, for example, while Pendulum’s toned down version of -Granite’ makes for plenty of involuntary spasm-style movements. Jools himself crops up twice, first with Adele, and the second with an anonymous but impressive female vocal accompaniment. Both efforts refreshing and tuneful, but far from classics. There are a few other collaborations slipping in, too, though bizarrely the cover fails to credit most of the additional artists (we’d love to know, for example, who the female vocals on Jools’ second track are, or who’s throwing in the glorious accompaniments to Seasick Steve).
The second disc is something of a mixed bag, and sees the compilation step away from the of-the-minute fashionable on occasion, with strong contributions from Morrissey, Paul Weller, Al Green and New York Dolls alongside Vampire Weekend and Lily Allen’s boy-bashing sexual outlet -Not Fair’ (she slips in -only joking’ half way through the song’¦ we’re not so sure she is). Then there’s Melody Garlet and Karima Francis (performing a haunting cover of Kings of Leon’s -Use Somebody’) throwing down some startlingly striking vocals.
All in all, what could have been a quite fantastic compilation is fine, but nothing more. Filling the opening disc in particular with tracks that will sell the CD was perhaps commercially wise, but in most cases it’s a massive musical missed opportunity. Shame.
Later Live 2 with Jools Holland Tracklisting
1. Muse – Uprising
2. Elbow – Grounds For Divorce
3. Little Boots – Remedy
4. Hot Chip – Ready For The Floor
5. Keane – Spiralling
6. MGMT – Time To Pretend
7. Lisa Hannigan – I Don’t Know
8. Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement
9. Nicole Atkins – Maybe Tonight
10. Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman
11. Bon Iver – Skinny Love
12. Friendly Fires – Jump In The Pool
13. Radiohead – Bodysnatchers
14. Santigold – L.E.S Artists
15. Adele & Jools – To Make You Feel My Love
16. Manic Street Preachers – Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
17. Pendulum – Granite
1. Lily Allen – It’s Not Fair
2. Paolo Nutini – Candy
3. Al Green – Let’s Stay Together
4. Melody Gardot – Sweet Memory
5. Vampire Weekend – Mansard Roof
6. Morrissey – Something Is Squeezing My SKull
7. New York Dolls – -Cause I Sez So
8. Paul Weller – Push It Along
9. Seasick Steve – I Started Out With Nothin’ And I Still Got Most Of It Left
10. Jools Holland – I Went By
11. Golden Silvers – True Romance
12. Madness – Forever Young
13. Natty – July
14. Karima Francis – Use Somebody
15. Goldfrapp – Happiness
16. Monkey – Monkey’s World
17. The Raconteurs – Salute Your Solution