Cleopatra Records [Release date 16.08.19]
I can’t say I know a lot about punk rock mavericks The Members, beyond a vague recollection of their 1979 hit single ‘The Sound Of The Suburbs’, my allegiances back in the 1970′s being firmly nailed to the slowly sinking ship of prog, holed below the waterline by piratical upstarts.
Still boasting what could be considered ‘original’ members – Jean Marie Carroll (vocals and guitar), and Chris Payne (bass), The Members are still active and this irreverent ‘covers’ album will most likely divide opinion as much as punk did ‘back in the day’.
Picking 14 unlikely bedfellows, the band give them the most unlikely of treatments, and like punk, it’s something of a breath of fresh air. It’s also proof, if it were ever needed, that you can do just about whatever you want with a well written song. You certainly won’t break it.
Prince’s ‘When You Were Mine’ is given an excellent harmonica infused/The Cars style paint job, Abba’s ‘Does Your Mother Know’ is given a glam/Queen circa ‘It’s A Kind Of Magic’ makeover, while Bowie’s ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ is given a fairly reverential treatment (albeit cleverly mashed with ‘Under Pressure’ bassline), as are The Ramones’ ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’, and Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers’ ‘Chinese Rocks’.
But it’s when the band go well ‘off piste’ that Version is most fascinating – ‘On Broadway’, originally by The Drifters, played to the riffs of The Kinks’ ‘All Of The Day And All Of The Night’, and the Two Tone/Specials style reinvention of The Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen In Love’. They shouldn’t work, but they do, and it’s marvellously entertaining.
In many ways I was reminded of The Jolly Boys 2010 covers album Great Expectation – against all odds, this most unlikely of mash ups is somehow impossible to dislike and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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