Why covers? I’ve got to admit, I love cover songs. I especially love when an artist or group brings something new to something familiar (think Me First and the Gimme Gimmes or Weird Al Yankovic’s polka medleys). Hard rocking a ballad or taking a Stones classic and turning it into a lullaby is a sure way to catch my ear. Beethoven on accordion? Bring it on. The Kinks on vibraphone? Well, I haven’t heard it yet, but if someone does it, I’ll get in line for it. When I listen to radio, it’s AOL Radio’s “Rock Covers.”
With The Bird and the Bee – Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates we’re talking covers of eighties’ hits — I couldn’t wait to get my greedy hands on this CD. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a Hall and Oates fan or that music from that period is my first listening choice.
The Bird and the Bee are a duo comprised of Inara George singing and Greg Kurstin, “multi-instrumental/producer.” Their latest release includes eight Hall and Oates covers, and one original song, “Heard It on the Radio.” Do they bring something new to classic Hall and Oates? Yes. Is it something good? That depends on your perspective.
On first listen, the vibe is sort of light-jazz-meets-pop-meets-bluesy. The orchestrations are not the pounding, powerful originals, but a rather simple, synthesized sound that works especially well with “Maneater.” Inara George gives a nearly breathless delivery in this classic bad-girl warning.
George’s strength is, ironically, in “soft” interpretations, those that are moody or wistful, like “She’s Gone.” Kurstin’s back-up music sometimes strays into the realm of the odd, as in “Private Eyes” and eccentric (“Rich Girl”).
“Heard It on the Radio” has a real pop sound, but that’s not true of the entire CD. In trying to classify it, the one image that keeps coming to mind is “cocktail party music” Although that’s not exactly a genre, The Bird and the Bee – Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates seems a natural choice to be played at such a gathering.
The important thing with cover songs is not “does it sound like the original?,” but “does it sound new?” And that’s where The Bird and the Bee succeeds. Looking forward to hearing “Kiss on My List,” I was surprised to find that I preferred the nicely nuanced “She’s Gone.” If you want to sample just one song from the CD, I recommend “One on One.” There is something about its dreamy delivery that sets it apart from the rest of the collection.
Bottom Line: Would I buy The Bird and the Bee – Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates? Yes.