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Matthew Sweet And Susanna Hoffs - Under the Covers Vol. 3

  by Paul Waller

published: 31 / 10 / 2013

Matthew Sweet And Susanna Hoffs - Under the Covers Vol. 3
Label: Floating World Records
Format: CD


Eclectic third collection of 80's covers from American singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet and the Bangles' Susanna Hoffs

There has been some fine work done by this pair, both solo and together. Matthew Sweet released the fantastic ‘100% Fun’ album back in the mid-nineties, and it has resonated with me ever since as a high point in 90's pop rock alongside Juliana Hatfield and the solo work of Paul Westerburg. Susanna Hoffs on the other hand has recently re-launched the Bangles (again) with the classy ‘Sweetheart of the Sun’ LP that came out a couple of years ago, and shortly afterwards released the somewhat more intimate and - dare I say it - mature ‘Someday’ album as a solo artist to positive reviews and middling sales. All the while the two have been collaborating on a set of cover albums, each one picking from the pair’s favourite songs of a decade. So far in ‘Under the Covers’, Volumes 1 and 2, the 60's and 70's have been pillaged with some fantastic rewards. Now it’s the turn of the 80s, the decade which saw Susanna herself rise to fame and change the world of pop rock forever. But the track listing isn’t an obvious one though. The Beat, the Bongos, Kirsty MacColl and Echo and the Bunnymen all feature as choice cuts here. It’s an interesting and eclectic mix. An album highlight this time around includes the duo's faithful take on Dave Edmunds' ‘Girls Talk’ where Hoffs' twisty vocal sparks life back into a song that has been overplayed on American radio and television to the point where I thought that I could happily never hear it again. Not only this but her vocal take on Roxy Music’s ‘More Than This’ transforms the smooth soul of Bryan Ferry’s original take and plasters a pop shine on it, transforming the whole feel of the song. As for Sweet, his vocals shine like liquid velvet on the rocky Bongos cover ‘The Bulrushes’, and the best track on the whole thing is all thanks to his summery lead on the dB’s ‘Big Brown Eyes’. The way the song kicks in is simply electric. Of course as with all cover albums there are a couple of duds, and ‘Under the Covers Vol.3’ is no exception to the rule. Covering the Smiths' 'How Soon is Now' is never going to be a small order, and along with the understated take of the Go Go’s ‘Our Lips are Sealed’ it come off as an awkward karaoke session, albeit with two great vocalists employed to sing them. It’s here that the arrangements needed to stray from that of the originals. Both artists are fully capable of transforming classics into something new, and it would have been nice to see some experimentation Overall there is a great selection of tracks from the 80's, and the album definitely doesn’t take anything away from the duos previous 60's and 70's collections. Let’s hope though that they stay away from the 90’s big guns. No Nirvana please.

Track Listing:-
1 Sitting Still
2 Girls Talk
3 Big Brown Eyes
4 Kid
5 Free Fallin'
6 Save It For Later
7 They Don't Know
8 The Bulrushes
9 Our Lips Are Sealed
10 How Soon Is Now
11 More Than This
12 Towers Of London
13 Killing Moon
14 Trouble

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