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Tribute discs hit and miss

Duck and cover.

As CD sales slow, that’s what many acts are resorting to, bashing out tribute discs to make a quick buck while they still can. There’s been a slew of these releases already this year; let’s assess the worthiness of some of the most recent:

Who: Poison, “Poison’d” (Capitol)

What it sounds like: Eye glitter incarnate, spandex karaoke.

These dudes began as a cover band back in the day, and they do a surprisingly convincing job adding a hard candy shell to tunes by glam forebears like Sweet and David Bowie. But when they attempt to tackle The Who and Kiss, it’s like a girl scout fighting a badger.

The badger wins.

What it’s good for: Feathering hair, spit shining your cod piece.

Who: Tesla, “From Real to Reel” (Tesla Electric Company Recordings)

What it sounds like: If mullets could sing …

Even though they came of age in the hair metal era, Tesla always sounded like a classic rock band that gorged on Budweiser for breakfast.

Here, they knock the snot out of classics from Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and UFO, adding lots of gravel-throated raunch and enough bitchin’ guitar solos to give you carpal tunnel syndrome by osmosis. Hey, you need to listen to something while crushing beer cans on your forehead.

What it’s good for: Practicing some tasty air guitar riffs, rockin’ the rust off your Camaro.

Who: Patti Smith, “12” (Columbia)

What it sounds like: A ghost in the jukebox, haunting some of your favorite tunes. Smith’s lived-in voice is its own hallucinogen, equally seductive and menacing, which lends a serrated edge to Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and a howling take on the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”

What it’s good for: A couple of acid flashbacks, perhaps a psychotic episode or two. Speaking of which, you should really do something about all those spiders eating your arms.

Who: Art Garfunkel, “Some Enchanted Evening” (Atco)

What it sounds like: Lullabies to anesthetize.

This is the sound of your eyelids getting heavy. Garfunkel doesn’t reinterpret standards by the likes of George Gershwin, Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra so much as float through them, his voice a warm bath that Tony Bennett gets drowned in.

What it’s good for: Saving you lots of dough on muscle relaxers.

Who: Shaw/Blades, “Influences” (VH1 Classic Records)

What it sounds like: An acre of Velveeta magically rendered into audio form.

These two Styx, Night Ranger vets come with milquetoast takes on Steely Dan and Paul Simon hits, making this album about as substantial as the dialogue in a porno.

What it’s good for: Store credit at Zia Record Exchange, hopefully.

Jason Bracelin’s “Sounding Off” column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 383-0476 or e-mail him at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com.

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