Thanks for the memories: Tributes to the lesser-known Mark Linkous and Tarka Cordell

Two new tribute albums promise, for once, to do justice to their subjects

The “tribute” or “charity album” doesn’t exactly conjure up thoughts of classics. Try the Leonard Cohen tribute album Tower of Song on which Bono mumbles a rap on his world-techno version of “Hallelujah”, while Sting teams up with The Chieftains to create an Irish-jig interpretation of “Sisters of Mercy”. But there are two upcoming tributes to musicians that are set to change that image, by tastefully celebrating the musicians – Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous and singer-songwriter Tarka Cordell – to whom they are dedicated.

Tragically, both musicians took their own lives. Linkous, whose five critically acclaimed studio albums have influenced indie artists including Bright Eyes and Ed Harcourt, shot himself in the heart in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2010. He was 47. It wasn’t his first encounter with death. A lifelong sufferer of depression, 14 years earlier, while on tour, he collapsed in his London hotel room after overdosing on alcohol, antidepressants and valium. When found several hours later, he suffered a heart attack that left him medically dead for some minutes.

Cordell was a singer-songwriter born with the best of connections. The son of Denny – the massively successful producer of records for the likes of The Cranberries and The Moody Blues, and who made his name producing Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” – had a rock’n’roll lifestyle since childhood. He was taught to play guitar by Keith Richards, had a musical mentor in Evan Dando of The Lemonheads, and, socialising with the beautiful and famous, would go on to date Liv Tyler and Kate Moss. He was half-brother to Sam Cooper, Lily Allen’s husband. But the man who seemingly had everything hanged himself in 2008 at his Notting Hill home in west London at the age of 40. He had been recording his solo album Wide Awake in a Dream.

Now the musician friends of both these artists have come together to record albums, reworking the songs of their friends in tribute to them. Tarka and Friends: Life is an especially wonderful record in that it brings to the fore songs that might not otherwise have been heard. An album devoted to a lesser-known artist is the best tribute of all; Cordell’s music will find champions in fans of Lily Allen and Evan Dando, and the other musicians, who appear on Life.

The album was the brainchild of Tarka’s elder brother Barney, following his death. On an album that is a faithful reworking of his tender songs, Tarka’s talent for writing sensitive songs with delicate melodies is apparent. Lily Allen covers the particularly touching “Shelter You”, her velvet, understated vocals a caress over slow-paced, mournful guitar, while Evan Dando performs “Lovely New York”. When the album is released on Monday, the proceeds from the sales will go to Calm, a charity aiming to prevent male suicide in the UK.

In testimony to the impact of Linkous’s music, such huge names in the indie world as The Flaming Lips, Mark Lanegan, Mercury Rev, Califone and Jason Lytle of Grandaddy have contributed, while Dave Fridmann, who worked with Linkous for several years as a producer, has mastered the album Last Box of Sparklers – A Tribute to Mark Linkous. The project was started by husband-and-wife team Ted and Jessica Richardson. Jessica, a long-standing fan of Sparklehorse, enlisted her producer husband to help her get started on her intention to create an album that would be “the Farm Aid or Live 8 for mental health”. They produced the album under their charity devoted to increasing awareness about mental health, Box of Stars. “When we realised using music to start a new dialogue about mental health could have a far-reaching and positive impact, Box of Stars was born,” explains Jessica.

It happened that Dave Fridmann and Marc Fuller, a producer at Edie Road Studio, were working on their own tribute album to Linkous. Undecided over how they would release it, they joined forces with the Richardsons, and handed over the tracks they had already completed. To raise funds for the project, the Richardsons used the crowd-funding site Indiegogo, raising almost all the $50,000 target through offerings of CDs, vinyl and downloads of the album, as well as signed goods from the musicians contributing. The result is a 23-song double LP of Sparklehorse songs covered in varying styles. A taster of what’s to come, two tracks can be streamed on Soundcloud: The Flaming Lips’ version of “It’s a Sad and Beautiful World” is effects-laden psychedelia while The Joy Formidable’s take on “Gold Day” bursts into expansive heavy rock. The album will be a reminder of the huge talent that was Mark Linkous. And for Tarka Cordell, his songs finally have the audience they deserve.

‘Tarka and Friends: Life – A Tribute to Tarka Cordell’ is out on Monday. ‘Last Box of Sparklers – A Tribute to Mark Linkous’ is out soon. See www.indiegogo.com

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent