The world pays tribute to one of its greatest rock bands. Unfortunately, I can only wish they had selected some of their better songs...and, before releasing the album, thought to themselves, "does this really do justice to The Who?".
There's a few big names doing covers here, but there's no real justice done. David Bowie chips in with "Pictures Of Lily", reaffirming a simple fact - true talent can never be replaced by marketing hype. The Who themselves step in with the title song, "Substitute", but they somehow lack the punch that made them famous. There are a lot of other numbers, but there's a severe lack of imagination and variety here. Most of the groups sound like they're just filling in for someone else and as a result, the quality suffers.
Sheryl Crow is the only one who really stands out, with her typically sultry rendition of "Behind Blue Eyes". Pearl Jam is a disappointment here with their version of "The Kids Are Alright", which is way too tame for their style. And I wonder why nobody chose to cover "Pinball Wizard" or "My Generation", two songs which really deserved to be included.
The album is okay by normal standards, but as a tribute to The Who, it fails miserably. So, pick it up with that caveat in mind.This article was first published on 15 Dec 2001.