People who read my reviews in magazines like Background Magazine and iO Pages know that Iím fond of cover albums. The reason for that is that many originals have been played so many times that I know them backwards by heart, so new variations of old songs are always welcome. I know itís often an easy way for a band to be noticed or just for filling-up their CD, but anyway, Iím always in eager anticipation to listen how these bands interpret the songs.
Undercover didnít disappoint me at all. Mostly unknown bands - at least for me - did a nice job with their interpretations of classics. I specifically use the word Ďinterpretationsí, because most of the musicians on this release succeeded in putting elements of their own into the existing music. Take for instance From.Uz (Uzbekistan). They recorded King Crimsonís Starless And Bible Black and they slip in a small section of Happy When Youíre Happy, a song from a completely different King Crimson-era. Little Atlas (USA) almost turn the Led Zeppelin classic Battle Of Evermore in a happy up-tempo jam song, while Man On Fire (USA) plays a praiseworthy cover from Japan, a band that strange enough can hardly be found on any cover album. Another highlight on this album is the wonderful version of Mahavishnuís The Dance Of Maya by Frogg Cafť (USA), including a prominent brass section. The ĎI-cannot-sit-stillí version of Kraftwerkís The Model by Bolt (USA) with heavy drum patterns is a highlight as well despite the singerís accent. Other highlights are the moving yet electronic version of Duran Duran ís The Chauffeur by Fluttr Effect (USA) and the sparkling almost stuttering version of Jethro Tullís Cross-Eyed Mary by The Rebel Wheel (Canada).
10t Records states that the reason for making this cover album was to show the inspiration these bands got from other bands. That inspiration helped them to develop their own musicianship. I think they succeeded in reaching that goal. As such, Undercover sets the bar quite high for future cover efforts.
***** Andrť de Waal (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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