A quality ensemble playing tracks already beloved in their original form
Keira Burgess 2008
Not so long ago the cover version was a derided format, associated largely with manufactured acts devoid of their own ideas. In the current pop climate however, the cover has become an admired artform in itself - perhaps partly attributable to the likes of Mark Ronson's Version album, and the popularity of the Live Lounge format and its copycats.
Headless Heroes are a collection of musicians helmed by Eddie Bezalel, a New York A&R guru who tellingly had a hand in the Ronson project. He is joined by contributing producers Hugo Nicolson and David Holmes, blossoming vocalist Alela Diane and a clutch of instrumentalists with a combined collaboration history encompassing Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Smashing Pumpkins and R.E.M. The tracklist steers away from the populist via well known cult classics by The Jesus and Mary Chain and Nick Cave, towards lesser known gems by Linda Perhacs and The Gentle Soul.
Diane - an upcoming talent discovered by Bezalel on MySpace - sits vocally between Dolores O'Riordan and PJ Harvey, and her contribution to the reworking of Juicy Lucy's Just One Time could easily be mistaken for the latter. The charming traditional folk of The North Wind Blew South (originally by Philamore Lincoln) and the disjointed moodiness injected into I Am Kloot's To You are both well executed variations, but the plain acoustic rendition of the Mary Chain's Just Like Honey strips the song bare of character.
While the collection is endearing and pleasant, it does not display the diversity of ideas already thrown successfully at the classics by Nouvelle Vague. The songs here may differ greatly from the originals, but they do not separate themselves well enough from one another.
What's left is a quality ensemble playing tracks already beloved in their original form. A concerted effort at some official Headless Heroes material however? Now that would really be something.