Various Artists

Todd Weiser

We’re a Happy Family: A Tribute to Ramones

DV8/Columbia

Tribute albums are usually mixed bags, and We’re a Happy Family is no exception. But with an interesting variety of artists and songs (and Stephen King’s hilarious liner notes), this is undoubtedly one of the better tributes out there.

Not surprisingly, bands like The Offspring, Rancid and Green Day turn in spot-on covers. Less obvious artists appear as well: the Pretenders give an excellent, low-key rendition of “Something to Believe in,” Tom Waits puts his unique stamp on “Return of Jackie and Judy” and Rob Zombie does a very, um, scary rendition of “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

Meanwhile, Metallica, Eddie Vedder (with punk band Zeke) and Garbage all deliver strong covers that stick close to the originals while sporting the artists’ own flavor.

Not everything here works, however. Kiss’ rendition of “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio” suffers from the lack of Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” that graced the original. U2’s “Beat on the Brat” proves that Bono’s ego is too big and his balls are too small for punk. These exceptions aside, We’re a Happy Family pays proper tribute to one of rock’s greatest bands.

3 Stars

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