CD Review: Covered, a Revolution in Sound: Warner Bros. Records

Ultimately, the artists faring best are the ones that put their own stamp on a song. Missy Higgins turns Roxy Music's "More Than This" into a loping, country-folk tune. The Used approaches Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" with a combination of heavy dance-rock (with computer-doctored vocals) and metal guitar chords.

The hands-down winner here comes as no surprise: The Flaming Lips with Stardeath and White Dwarfs start Madonna's "Borderline" with a spare drum machine and keyboard, over which Wayne Coyne ladles a soft falsetto. The tune simmers awhile before hitting blastoff with a barrage of grandiose synthesizer chords and warped vocals, then builds and builds into an absurd, glorious cacophony.

Various Artists: Covered, A Revolution in Sound: Warner Bros. Records

(Warner Bros.)

To commemorate its golden anniversary, Warner Bros. Records commissioned a dozen artists on its current roster to each perform a favorite tune from the label's first 50 years. The results, not surprisingly, range from insipid to almost brilliant.

We'll start with the clunkers: Adam Sandler doing a rote, irony-free version of Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" whiny vocals and all. WTF? Taking Back Sunday's "You Wreck Me," another blatant copy that begs the question: Why would anyone ever listen to this version when you can cue up the Tom Petty original? On paper, Avenged Sevenfold's covering Sabbath's "Paranoid" would seem to have potential — but the original, while thinner sounding, is so much heavier and more menacing than this stiff, ProTooled remake.

James Otto's "Into the Mystic," while pretty faithful to Van Morrison's, succeeds because of the sheer commitment in Otto's blue-eye-soul vocal. Michelle Branch doing Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You?" A recipe for disaster? Nope. Branch proves herself a much more formidable singer than I ever gave her credit for.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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