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|1. I Can't Stand It|
|2. Big Sky|
|3. The Crystal Ship|
|4. (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)|
|5. Damaged Goods|
|6. Love Is the Drug|
|8. Pump It Up|
|9. The Lovecats|
|10. Queen Bitch|
|12. Up the Junction|
Initially seen as something of a novelty act – Steven Spielberg asked for the trio’s thoughts on a Monkees-style TV show around the release of their debut; they turned him down – Supergrass quickly stepped away from the throwaway fun of debut single Alright and into more meditative, occasionally macabre material. 1999’s eponymous collection, particularly, was striking in its shady spirit and sinister lyricism. But The Hotrats – aka Gaz and Danny ‘Grass – initially appear absolutely trivial: a covers outfit, they might exhibit great taste, but they’re still simply playing karaoke when they could be furthering the Supergrass cause.
But every artist needs a little detachment to best focus on their next project ‘proper’, and Turn Ons is no embarrassment. Far from it, in fact: carefully considered cuts are treated with respect for the source recordings and given new life that, surprisingly frequently, transforms what could otherwise be a knocked-out-quick cacophony of clichés into genuinely catchy and affecting interpretations. The Velvet Underground’s I Can’t Stand It fizzes and sizzles with a raucous energy recalling the In It for the Money days; Beastie Boys' bratty classic (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!) becomes an acoustic lament to youthful days of exuberance gone by; and Elvis Costello’s Pump It Up is every bit as gleefully infectious as the original.
Most enjoyable of all, though, are the duo’s retellings of Gang of Four and Squeeze numbers. The post-punks’ Damaged Goods is reborn as a brilliant, folk-kissed protest march, with bass that groans like a stirring volcano and real yearning in Coombes’ vocal performance; Up the Junction, meanwhile, is stripped of all new-wave gloss, becoming a torch song for modern lovers out of step with pop’s hackneyed way with a ballad.
So, despite promising little, Turn Ons proves to be quite the diverting delight, albeit one you're unlikely to return to once a new Supergrass album arrives. --Mike Diver
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