Not one, but three CDs of cover versions as the illustrious trio of Morse/Portnoy/George re-release a couple of previous covers albums and tack on another one for added value.
Some may justifiably say “do we really need another covers album?”: well, some are brilliant and some are dire but, when the people making said covers are none other than Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy and Randy George then you know it will be of a high quality matched only by their musicianship. Plus, on Cover To Cover Anthology (Vol 1-3), the songs they’ve chosen are not predictable, and that makes it an essential listen.
Cream and David Bowie supply the only obvious choices with ‘Badge’, ‘Rock N Roll Suicide’ and ‘Life On Mars’. Less obvious are the two Jethro Tull choices: ‘Teacher’ and ‘Hymn 43’ and the same with King Crimson with ‘Starless’ and ‘One More Red Nightmare’. It also includes one of my ‘guilty pleasures’…I remember seeing and hearing this song first on Top of the Pops when a truly heavy rock riff was only dimmed by the rows of shiny teeth! Yes, The Osmonds’ ‘Crazy Horses’ is here and it is as heavy and infectious as I remember with the added thump of Portnoy’s drumming, Georges pin-sharp bass and some clever guitar work from Neal Morse. Other highlights from the first two volumes are the exceptional readings of Badfinger’s ‘Day After Day’ which is faithful but energised; Blind Faith’s ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ is masterful; Joe Cocker’s ‘The Letter’ may be missing that querulous voice but this version has everything the original did.
The new volume also provides some remarkable interpretations: ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ from the pen and stick of Ringo Starr is a genuine treat; ‘Black Coffee in Bed’ is one of two Squeeze songs and has a depth and bite the original lacked; Lenny Kravitz also gets a mention as the three make a great version of his already brilliant ‘Let Love Rule’ with every instrument crystal clear and effective.
So this is a fascinating take on many and varied artists and their songs all of which are given a revered reading but with the three protagonists personalities shaping the interpretations. Plus, for me anyway, anyone that can make a U2 song listenable has to be admired…and their cover of ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ is no Bono and doesn’t have an edge!
Highly recommended to hear cracking versions of the familiar and also some songs you would never expect…check out The Bee Gees and Monkees songs as proof…then buy it.