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Jesse Malin - On Your Sleeve

  by Geraint Jones

published: 24 / 5 / 2008

Jesse Malin - On Your Sleeve
Label: One Little Indian
Format: CD


Unadventurous and somewhat bland collection of covers on fourth album from the usually dynamic New York-based singer-songwriter Jesse Malin

'On Your Sleeve' is Jesse Malin’s covers record, a curious thing to do when you’re only three albums into your solo career. 'Glitter In The Gutter', his previous album and strongest set to date was a distillation of all his strengths, encompassing pop, rock, punk and roots influences to deliver a very strong record – evocative, punchy and catchy as hell. Live too, he delivered the goods – his London ULU gig of last year was one of the best I’d seen for some time. 'On Your Sleeve', while superficially entertaining enough if you’re already a fan, is on the whole something of a mis-step though, Malin rarely adding anything to the originals. A much more adventurous approach to his reinterpretation of the chosen songs might have helped. Too slick for the most part and liberally drenched in an unwelcome 80’s like sheen that incorporates unnecessary keyboards far too frequently amidst an almost soulless production, which is disappointing taking into account some of Malin’s previously laudable efforts at covers – most notably his stripped down take on the Replacements’ ‘Bastards Of Young’ from 'Glitter In The Gutter' and his version of the Ramones ‘Questioningly’ from a tribute a few years back. In his defence, he has chosen material from a wide era and spectrum of styles stretching back to the 60’s right up to last year, and taking in the likes of Fred Neil’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin’, Lou Reed’s ‘Walk On The Wild Side’, Neil Young’s ‘Lookin’ For A Love’, The Ramones ‘Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio ?’, the Clash’s ‘Gates Of The West’ going up to much more contemporary fare like the Kills’ ‘Rodeo Town’ and the Hold Steady’s ‘You Can Make Them Like You’. On the latter – an acoustic rootsy take that also manages to quote from Tte Damned’s ‘New Rose’ on the intro, Malin does shine and elsewhere too there is also some occasional merit - his stab at ‘Gates Of The West’ is pretty good as well but, too often the results are borderline bland and forgettable. An anthology of live covers further down the line might have been a far more exciting prospect, but I won’t hold this against him. 'Glitter In The Gutter' demonstrated Malin at this best and I’m confident there’s plenty more of quality to come from him despite this hiccup.

Track Listing:-
1 Looking For A Love
2 Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio
3 Sway
4 Russian Roulette
5 Gates Of The West
6 Me And Julio Down By The School Yard
7 You Can Make Them Like You
8 Walk On The Wild Side
9 Harmony
10 Rodeo Town
11 Wonderful World
12 Operator
13 I Hope I Don't Fall In Love With You
14 Everybody's Talkin'

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