CD, Section44, 2005
Anyone with any casual interest in new wave will remember The Fixx. After a successful debut in the UK, they burst onto the American music scene and planted themselves there for several years. Here, Section 44 has assembled a quality memorial to the music that affected so many people in the decade of excess and beyond.
Empire State Human kicks off the collection in admirable fashion. With a faithful cover of the head-bobbing tune, Saved by Zero, they turn the tables of what made new wave so cutting edge at the height of its popularity. Instead of the classic peppering of synthesizers into a solid foundation of light and catchy guitars, they’ve snuck the guitar in under the radar, adding a layer of depth to an already well-constructed number. And this is the persistent quality in most of the songs in this album: attention to detail.
Even relative newcomers like Glow and Tristraum prove up to the challenge. Many tribute albums sound like the musicians slapped together a half-hearted rendition of a song they never liked in the first place. Not so here. Tristraum’s version of 1986’s “Chase the Fire” has an incredible amount of thought and love placed into one of The Fixx’s last great tracks. With smooth vocals and such careful production as to include parts you’ll never hear without headphones, the effort and attention given is nothing short of overwhelming.
One disappointment comes from recognized cover-veterans, Color Theory. Most Americans would consider “One Thing Leads to Another” to be The Fixx’s signature song (They never charted in their native U.K. after 1982’s Shuttered Room). On this tribute, the hard-driving pop behemoth is reduced to nothing more than a lament. Perhaps we all have ideas of how a song should be performed, but I cannot be alone in thinking the piece could have been done without the pervasive sense of despair.
80’s legends, Gene Loves Jezebel make an unforgettable appearance here. Their version of “Red Skies” captures the seething edge of the original and then improves upon an already stellar track. It may seem odd, that an 80’s act and true contemporary of The Fixx, appears on a tribute album, but their genius here is undeniable. This song is worth the asking price of the entire CD.
From danceable interpretations by Kiss the Star and Monolithic, to the more downbeat additions by Equatronic and Royal Visionaries, this compilation has something for everyone, even those that are not too familiar with the new wave powerhouse that inspired it. Heck, there are a bunch of Fixx fans that don’t know “No One Has to Cry.” This tribute succeeds over and over again and is a recommended purchase.
— Brett Anthony