Album Review: Tragedy – “The Joy of Sex”
The notion of a tribute band often conjures up horrible yellow posters with the name of a legendary band in huge letters, and ‘A tribute to’ or something similar in smaller letters underneath or above in much smaller text; as if that would somehow fool the gig-going public to attend in the hope of seeing a huge act in an unlikely venue. The whole thing can seem underhand, and the nature of the these tribute bands often seems like a far cry from the real deal. However, there are some instances of tribute bands taking something beloved by many and making something truly original with it, and one such example is Tragedy, the world’s only all-metal tribute to The Bee Gees.
Anyone who has seen them live can tell you that they are riotous fun, and take Bee Gees material in a whole new and strange direction. As a fan of the band, I was both intrigued and concerned by their move to cover a number of songs by other bands, but as their new album The Joy of Sex goes to show, this is not a boundary to this band, merely an opportunity to open up their unique talents to a whole wealth of new material.
From the off The Joy of Sex is vintage Tragedy, launching straight into a magnificently over-the-top cover of Maneater by Hall & Oates, followed by a cover of Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty that is both surprisingly reverent but also takes the song in a different direction, which is a necessity due to the lack of a saxophonist in the band. These opening two tracks should give you an idea of the kind of album Tragedy have made here.
Other highlights include a storming cover of Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley that is vastly superior to the original (and if you think that is controversial, you are ready the wrong website right now), a bombastic version of Little Red Corvette by Prince, and an odd but weirdly engrossing cover of Borderline by Madonna. As with their Bee Gees covers, it probably shouldn’t work but it does, somehow. Speaking of which, there is also a re-recorded version of Stayin’ Alive which is slicker and more polished than the version on their album We Rock Sweet Balls And Can Do No Wrong, which is a great improvement on the previous recording.
The thing that characterises Tragedy as being as much fun as they are is the energy in the music. Seeing this band has been one of my favourite live experiences of the past decade, and that manic sense of fun seen onstage is expertly captured here. This is a cracking album, with great covers of mostly '80s songs done in a metal fashion. If you enjoy flamboyant vocals, big riffs, and something that doesn't take itself too seriously, you could do far worse than pick up The Joy of Sex.