ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: 'Muppets: Green Album' Review
A taste for the strange has always been a staple for Jim Henson's landmark franchise, The Muppets. So it comes as no surprise that during this summer, after releasing fake trailers mocking summer hits such as "The Hangover 2" that the company would release "Muppets: The Green Album," which is a tribute album of cover songs from the series featuring modern rock and indie rock bands.
The album starts off sounding as strange as the whole concept of the album itself. Indie band OK Go does an eerie, almost Nine Inch Nails-like take on "Muppets Show Theme Song." Swirling sounds of distortion, drum blasts and creepy, yet upbeat vocals make this cover quite the treat. It is a great start to the album.
It is followed by Weezer, featuring Haley Williams, take on "Rainbow Connection." It stays fairly true to Kermit and Piggy's original (sans the cool guitar distortion and reverb effects on the second half) and is perhaps the best thing Weezer has done in a decade of making awful albums.
The Fray cover the already weird Dr. Teeth song "Mahna Mahna." It has crazy scat vocals and music sounding like it was from a Las Vegas lounge act. It is one of the highlights of the album. It's reminiscent of the lounge act in the Beatles' "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)."
Alkaline Trio's "Movin' Right Along" stinks like every late '90s punk cover song. It doesn't add anything musically inventive that wasn't done in the pop-punk cover song rage that unfortunately took the first half of the 2000's by storm.
The haunted vocals by Jim James of My Morning Jacket on the beautiful version of "Our World" is great. It is full of MMJ's typical mellow acoustic vibe with blends of weird production effects. It sounds as if it could have been on their 2008 release, "Evil Urges."
"Halfway Down The Stairs" is a confused and conflicted performance by Amy Lee. Once again, the background music sounds like it could be the work of Trent Reznor, but her near operatic vocals over this just blends like Perry Como being backed up by Pantera. It shouldn't happen.
Sondre Lerche does a fairly decent take on "Mr. Bassman." It has a scat-like vocals and sounds like it could have been sung in a speak easy in the 1920s. It is certainly a fun little ditty.
"Bein' Green," perhaps the most famous of the Muppets songs, is covered brilliantly by Andrew Bird. His acoustic guitar and toned down vocals really makes the track incredible. Andrew Bird did the song justice, right down to the whistle solo.
Overall, this is a surprisingly good album. There are certain clunkers (Alkaline Trio, Amy Lee and the Airborne Toxic Effects awful take on "Wishing Song."), but that's to be expected on any tribute album. As to who the target audience is, seeing that little kids probably won't get it and few of those raised on the Muppets probably do not even listen to these bands (let alone heard of them) is confusing. Yet, it is a great album for those tuned into the indie rock world and also grew up with these demented pup-pets spawned from the mind of Jim Henson. Definitely worth looking into, even for the casual music buyer.