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Yo La Tengo is Murdering the Classics

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Album Review

Beginning in 1996, Yo La Tengo supported the fundraising efforts of New York's world-renowned independent radio outlet WFMU with annual studio visits. All listeners who pledged money during the band's appearances were offered the chance to request a favorite song that YLT would then attempt to perform. Compiling more than two dozen WFMU highlights first broadcast between 1996 and 2003, Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics is as sloppy and awkward as its title portends, but it's nevertheless an amusing listen galvanized by the overwhelming love of rock & roll that informs all of the band's efforts. Far removed from the intricacy and beauty that characterizes Yo La Tengo's official covers LP Fakebook, Murdering the Classics lurches and stumbles its way through pop milestones spanning from Archie Bell & the Drells' "Tighten Up" to "The Hokey Pokey" to the Shea Stadium perennial "Meet the Mets." Chord changes are flubbed, lyrics are mangled, and medleys are patched together from little more than desperation and perspiration. But the trio's energy and resourcefulness save the day. Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics is bar band rock in excelsis, buoyed by a spirit of generosity that's far too rare in all walks of life.


Formed: 1984 in Hoboken, NJ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Yo La Tengo are in many respects the quintessential critics' band: in addition to their adventurous eclecticism, defiant independence, and restless creative ambition -- three qualities that virtually guarantee music press acclaim -- the group's frontman, Ira Kaplan, even tenured as a rock scribe prior to finding success as a performer. So frequently compared to the Velvet Underground that they even portrayed the legendary group in the 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol, the Hoboken, New Jersey-based Yo...
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