“Covers Albums” usually come from one of two extremes. In the first scenario, an artist will gather up a collection of extremely familiar corporate radio “classic rock” songs, ones the mainstream audiences will know like the back of their hands. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the artist goes for a collection of tracks that are so esoteric and obscure that only a small handful of people will know anything about the originals.
Then there’s the third category, where the artist perfectly blends the “known” with the somewhat “lesser known,” so that the songs are not what’s been played endlessly on commercial radio, but also have a connection to a larger mainstream audience.
Anyone expecting Spygenius, a band that produced one of the most adventurous and rewarding albums in recent memory (Man On The Sea) to “do a covers album” from one of the two extremes listed above hasn’t been paying attention. These are covers that influenced and entertained the band, but the track selection was done on their own terms, with the same sense of adventure that they devote to their original productions.
The tracks are:
- Paper Sun (originally recorded by Traffic) / Love Is Only Sleeping (originally recorded by The
- So You Say You Lost Your Baby (originally recorded by Gene Clark)
- Therapy (originally recorded by Plasticsoul)
- Come On Home (originally recorded by The Springfelds)
- Griselda (originally recorded by Michael Hurley and The Unholy Modal Rounders)
- Is That Love (originally recorded by Squeeze)
- Please Stop Talking (originally recorded by Kelly’s Heels)
- For Pete’s Sake (originally recorded by The Monkees)
- Murrumbidgee Whalers (originally recorded by Harry Robertson)
- Queen Of Eyes (originally recorded by The Soft Boys)
- Step Inside Love (originally recorded by Cilla Black)
- Rock & Roll Woman (originally recorded by Bufalo Springfeld)
- Michael Caine (originally recorded by Madness)
…and the one track, for me, that speaks loudest to the heart of this project, is “Therapy.” To the stadium rock audiences, it’s most likely unknown. To Spygenius, as well as the community of artists whose main playground is Big Stir Records, Futureman Records, SpyderPop Records, Kool Kat Musik and BandCamp, Plasticsoul’s “Therapy” album is a touchstone to the best independent music being created in the modern era, a certified classic, and the initial album release that put Big Stir Records on the map. It’s no longer a “new release,” but the mere mention of the album’s name is a guarantee of knowing smiles and nods in certain circles, and those circles represent the ideal audience for this album.
Artists who “ape” classic hits are generally pursuing an exercise in vanity…“Hey, I can play “Crossroads” note-for-note, just like Clapton”…and the results are seldom satisfying. The true value of a covers album is how well it reflects music that speaks directly to the artist, and inspires them to make music of their own. Because Spygenius approached this project fully on their own terms, it stands head and shoulders above the customary “covers” fare.