Fruits De Mer Records,'Side Effects' -
A Four LP Box-set.

(4LP box 2015, 151:09, Fruits De Mer Records/crustacean 61-64)

The tracks:
  1A: The Soft Bombs - Echoes (Pink Floyd)(17:40)
  1B: Arcade Messiah - Four Horsemen
             (Aphrodite's Child)
  2A: The Bevis Frond - China (Electric Sandwich)(23:53)
  2B: Wreaths - Sundown (Gordon Lightfoot)(16:37)
  3A: Superfjord - CTA-102 (The Byrds)(16:59)
  3B: The Luck Of Eden Hall - Starship Trooper (Yes)(18:51)
  4A: Julie's Haircut - Shhh/Peaceful (Miles Davis)(17:13)
  4B: Sendelica - I Feel Love (Donna Summer)(21:14)

facebook      Fruits De Mer Records

This collection of cover tracks reached me on 2 CDs, but when you want to buy it, it'll be available as a fantastic 4 (multi coloured) record box set. I am somewhat allergic to cover or tributes from bands. Although (hypocrite that I am) I've played in a Pink Floyd cover band myself too for a few years. A great singer said: “Listen without prejudice.” But I'm afraid I can't do that. In my opinion there are two kinds of covers. A complete alternative version of the original or a perfect copy of the original. Something that 'nearly sounds like' it, doesn't do the trick for me, and normally will be skipped... very fast.

The first one is Pink Floyd's Echoes by The Soft Bombs. This particular track is one of the most space rock versions in the very rich PF history. And I can't help it, I'm especially very critical about this one because I've played it myself too (as a singer). My old band (Wish We Were There) has completely dissected this track, and we tried to put it back together in the best and most original way. So my hair raised (and I'm bald) when I heard the first notes. Originally it was a piano that was guided through a Leslie box which created a swirly and spacy sound. When time passes, the Soft Bombs manage to regain my attention and over the nearly 18 minutes they even put a satisfied smile on my face. I (in my a bit too critical mind) think they actually succeeded to portray the difficult task to re-create the moody feeling PF made in the version of the original Echoes.

Track 2. I have a shameful confession to make. I've never really listened to the 666 [The Apocalypse of John 13/18] album by Aphrodite's Child. Although I know lots of the work of the singer Demis Roussos. So for research purposes I had to listen to the original first (as I will do on other unknown tracks too). Arcade Messiah manages to create an alternative and 13 minutes longer version of this song, and puts some heavy elements in it. I like the sound of a good distorted guitar. To capture the unique sound of the original singer you'll have to open a box of magic, a lot of FX and vocoding will do the trick they would have thought. It makes the words sound spacy. But it doesn't really work for me. All in all, not a superb cover. But if you consider it as an alternative version it sounds quite good actually.

The third track is also unknown for me. The Bevis Frond does China by Electric Sandwich.
Electric Sandwich is not a band that I know, so my research has to go on. It used to be a 8:03 minute long song but Bevis went on the 'freaktrain' and jammed a good 15 minutes to it. In the old fashion live music scene this would be brilliant. But it gets quite boring in the long run. Compared to the original, which is unvendible, it sounds fresher. Of course it has to do with a clearer production and the era of when it's made, it's 43 years old! The base is the same, take a bassline, loop it, and freak away.

Track 4 is a Gordon Lightfoot song. It's a typical country evergreen. I've heard it a lot of times in my early youth, as my parents were big 'country and western' music fans. Sundown is done by a band called Wreaths. Knowing the original track takes a near 4 minutes, I really wonder what the use will be to get this cover 4 times longer!
Play it half the speed, and dip it in a psychedelic sauce. You'll get far. I respect the effort, but I think it's a waste of time, except when you are on a spiritual journey influenced by a fair amount of drugs.

The 5th track is a golden oldie by The Byrds, CTA-102. It's a little song (2:30) about a quasar somewhere in the universe that made some people believe that there really is life beyond the stars. Of course, it was a hoax by misinterpreting the data that was given by SETI.
The original song also paves a way to a psychedelic interpretation which Superfjord gladly will exploit until the 17 minute frontier. I even thought about Flak by IQ, but Superfjord did not use these sound/voice FX. The song goes on and on and on without really strand into boredom. Despite the ongoing rhythm (that never changes) there is enough to hear to keep it variable. And being the oldest cover (1967) on this compilation it sounds quite fresh.

Track six is a cover of one of my favourite bands, Starship Trooper by Yes, done by The Luck Of Eden Hall. The last time I heard this epic song was on the Blu-ray audio disk revived version that was excellently mixed into a 5.1 surround track by Steven Wilson. I think by hearing this I'm especially critical. I know the skills are there to make this cover a good one but Superfjord did not listen to the original good enough. This is a case of 'nearly sounds like'. And Jon Anderson's voice never hinted to the sound of David Bowie?
It's a bold attempt to cover this song but in my opinion it has failed. Don't get me wrong, the music is not bad.

On 7th we got a jazzy freaky legendary Miles Davis track. Shhh/Peaceful done by Julie's Haircut. Now I'm listening with some objectivity. I'm not a great fan of jazz (rather than blues btw.) and I can't really manage to listen to it for more than 10 minutes without getting nervous twitches. I'm also not a fan of wind-instruments like trumpets, saxes and many others (except for the flute). I know this Miles Davis track, and I am amazed by the skills of the musical dinosaurs like Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock (to name a few) so I hope Julie and her Haircut will keep this unbelievable high standards up.
Impressed as I am, Julie did it. The feeling of the trumpet player and the support of the other musicians are clearly an equal match to the original. Thumbs up!

The last one makes me curious. What has Sendelica done with the legendary (disco) hit I Feel Love by Donna Summer? There are maybe 50 million covers and re-mixes of this track, (I like to exaggerate) varying from nearly 4 minutes to over 15 minutes, but 21:14? It starts with a perfect mood setting, the slight mellow beats come in together with the unmistakable bassline ... and then? You expect a female singer to explode with a sharp but heavenly sounding voice. Oh, disappointment. It's a muted sax. I'm sorry. It had all the ingredients to become a fantastic cover. But that was not what I had hoped for. For sax lovers this song could be a blessing, not for me. I wanted to turn it off, but at 15:30 the track got a'wish u were here' sounding passage and went into an ambient soundscape. A nice ending.

Altogether I am very pleased with this compilation of cover songs. Some disappointments, some surprises. The quality of the bands, with weird names, is very high. And over all it's definitely worth listening to. Together with the beautiful package even worth buying if you're a fan of mostly psychedelic and jazzy progrock.

****+ Erik van Os (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

Where to buy?

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2015