Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sid n Susie
Under the Covers Vol. 2
Shout Factory

Susanna Hoffs and Mathew Sweet have made another covers album that focuses on the 70s. The covers are diverse-- everyone from Yes to Big Star, Carly Simon to Tom Petty. Yet there is a good flow to the song selection, Hoffs and Sweet made these songs fit together smoothly.

The album as a whole is somewhat uneven. Some of these covers work better than others, such as Yes’s “I’ve Seen All Good People.: Your Move/All Good People.” Even Steve Howe’s playing can’t save the song from being played and sung by rote. And the songs played by the numbers are what mars the album the most. It’s too bad Sweet and Hoff’s didn’t take more liberties with these songs.

There are four covers though that make this album worth it, Sweet shines vocally on Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes” and as this song is a tribute to Gay Liberation, which was a widely used term back then, the gay sub-text is emphasized. Hoff brings out the bitterness, anger and hurt of Carly Simon’s “You’re so Vain.” The song is interpreted as a tribute to Women’s Liberation, which was another way of saying feminist back then.

Sweet brings a gentle anger to Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News,” with Lindsey Buckingham re-creating his guitar work on the song. Hoffs poses as bi on Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May,” and sounds very convincing.

With albums like this it’s tempting to ask why this band or not that band was chosen, but the 70s was so diverse musically that no one album can do that decade justice. That someone tried is amazing enough, and even as the album doesn’t work overall, the parts are better than the whole. []
Andrea Weiss

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