Monday, June 3, 2013

Album Review: Under the Covers by Gretchen Wilson

I have recently changed how I do album reviews and am being more selective of what I review. Normally I would ignore an album like this, but I felt a need to say something about this album.

Maybe it's because it's the second bad album of covers I've heard in a month, and both coming from country artists doing rock. Or maybe it's because I see reviewers write things like, "Nothing here adds to the original versions of these songs, . . . if one should happen to see them doing these songs in some juke joint bar, well, it would make for a sweet night of music, the kind any redneck woman would probably love."

The problem I have is this. If you want to make an album of covers that's great, that's fine, but if you don't add anything to the originals then what was the point? I would prefer to simply go down to the local juke joint and see the live cover band rather than put on a record of a juke joint level cover band. That is exactly what this album sounds like a local band recording an album. Gee that girl sounds great doing "Hot Blooded" live, doesn't work so well on a recording.

Another problem here is selection of songs. Let's run down the list of songs.

1. Stay With Me
2. Doctor My Eyes
3. Everybody Wants You
4. Bell Bottom Blues
5. Funk No. 49
6. Hot Blooded
7. Over the Hills & Far Away
8. I Want You to Want Me
9. Lights
10. Her Strut
11. Bad Company
12. Into the Mystic

There are so many problem with this list of songs. "Her Strut" is really the only one that works I think because it is not the most common Bob Seger song and a straight cover isn't going to hurt because enough people don't know the original. But the others, well the others are a big mistake. If you want to pick Billy Squier go with something like "Lonely is the Night." It's off his classic album and it's not the most common song. Unless you are a better singer than Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, or Robert Plant you should probably try to avoid doing straight covers of some of their classic tunes. You simply won't live up to them. I can't believe anyone would do a cover of "Hot Blooded."

The thing is this, you have to be smart about what songs you pick. Sometimes it is more fun to pick the B sides. Also you have to make the songs yours, and you can't do that by doing an exact copy of what was done before. Do you really think you're ever going to do a better job of "Stay With Me" while doing the original arrangement?

Why is it so important to make the songs yours? Well because it shows the real talent that you have. Not as someone who can simply mimic what they have seen, but can take something and remake it in their image, with their talent.

Following the Rhapsody rating method I give it 0 out of 5 stars for Don't Like.

I'll leave you with what I think is a fun cover.



  1. And now we've come full circle, as I'm pretty sure your first-ever published review--in a Heath Middle School Pirate Press of 1982--pointed out that the second Billy Squier record, Emotions In Motion, had "less jam" than the first Billy Squier record, Don't Say No.

    1. Well if you want to cover Billy Squier you don't pick the song that sunk his career.

    2. Mr. Toy loved "Everybody Wants You," and you were brave to stake out a position at odds with his.

  2. I strongly agree with Matthew's sentiments here.

    Alison Krauss is good at picking out covers for herself, and then doing them in a way that makes it sound like the song was written for her. Her versions of "Carolina on my Mind" and "9 to 5" are both good examples of this.

  3. Also, check out Dolly Parton's versions of "Travelin' Prayer" or "Seven Bridges Road."

  4. Also, Matthew voted for President Ford in our third-grade mock election. But, alas, I had given a rousing campaign speech on behalf of Gov. Carter, and he rode the ensuing enthusiasm to a comfortable victory in voting among Mrs. Clark's class at Concord Elementary.