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Cherry Pop

Title - ‘Almost You: The Songs of Elvis Costello’ (Glurp)
Artist - Various
As with a lot of these kinda projects, there’s always some good, bad and ugly attached to the finished product. Taking these sections one step at a time, there are three quite stirring brilliant performances that even come close to blowing EC's originals out of the water! Matt Pond PA's album opener "Green Shirt" brings the full force of what EC was attempting to use to invigorate a skinny-tied, tight jacket-wearing ‘70s nation way back when; Hem recasts "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" as a torchy country ballad with quite inexplicably successful results; and finally, - and leaving the best for last – take a listen to Brenda Khan's highly addictive take on "Watch your Step". And yes, you should be warned that this compilation veers toward the country; southern, that is (7 of 15 songs were recorded in Austin), but still this is no stereotypical country album! But, whilst that’s the good, the bad would be that bands like Fastball and The Deathray Davies lack the courage (talent?) to bring anything new to the table and end of sounding like nothing more than bar bands on a wet Tuesday night! And the ugly? Well, while the female singers on this album, especially Brenda Kahn seem to ‘own’ their cover versions a bit more than the guys, her "Alison" cover is interesting, and yet totally aggravating! Like her, the singers cheat (therein, cheat us!) on the high notes, leaving us all filling in the blanks ourselves! Almost You is a straightforward collection of EC imitations, and slow ballad versions of his fast songs, and apart from the aforementioned three or four songs - which DO make the CD worth buying - as a whole the album's a bit bland, though honorably conceived. BUT, this collection is strong enough to make you dig out your old records (or buy the ones you've missed) just to hear what EC’s versions sound like, so that in itself must add some huge plus signs to this overall rating!
Russ Trunk