The singing on Yo La Tengo's fourth album, Fakebook, with leader Ira Kaplan flat as always and drummer Georgia Hubley coming out of the closet, vocalizingwise, is delicate and nuanced, weary and lilting, and somehow riveting. A fakebook, of course, is a fast and dirty collection of standards, with melody lines, words, changes, and little else. The joke here is not so much that the songs are stripped down or, once stripped down, rebuilt from the ground up: instead, the group is asserting a new standard for standards; and, finding contenders--worthy contenders--in incredibly obscure material by everyone from Ray Davies to Daniel Johnston to Gene Clark (!) to Peter Stampfel, they make the argument stick. This isn't like any other Yo La Tengo record: most of it's acoustic, and there's none of the low-key guitar meistering Kaplan used to be so fond of (though Hubley's drumming is as lyrical as ever); it's just radiant and measured, taking time out only to blow your mind with (the Flamin Groovies') "You Tore Me Down," as distinguished a rock 'n' roll performance as you'll hear anytime soon. Saturday, 10:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Robert Sietsema.