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He Did It His Way ....,
This review is from: All Dressed Up And Smelling Of Strangers (Audio CD)
Question : Why should you buy an album of other people's
songs by a relatively obscure bloke with a guitar ?
Answer : Well you might not but I did and I shall spend the
next few minutes trying to persuade you to give him a try too.
The 2005 recording 'Micah P. Hinson and The Gospel Of Progress'
was a stunning debut. Edgy, idiosyncratic and chock-full of
strange, elusive magic. 2008's 'M.P.H. and The Red Empire
Orchestra' fleshed out his singular vision still further.
'Tell Me It Ain't So' from the latter is a composition of
near visionary intensity.
'All Dressed Up and Smelling Of Strangers' is a different
kettle of carp entirely. The sixteen stripped-down covers on
this new collection find Mr Hinson confronting both his angels
and more than a few of his demons. This is NOT easy listening
by any measure known to man but give it a chance to get under
your skin and the rewards may well justify the effort expended.
Sinatra's 'My Way' is simultaneously crucified and resurrected.
Mr Hinson's mission to grasp the big top notes elude him but
what might have been an affair as painful as hearing the song
slaughtered by the fat man with the red face at your local pub's
karaoke night is somehow transformed into a weirdly sincere and
affecting cris de coeur. A near disaster is miraculously averted!
His rendition of Roy Orbison's 'Running Scared' is more secure.
It is a fine gravely-voiced performance with just the right
amount of reverb in the mix to capture some of the essence of
the original's powerful charm. It is a fine re-imagining rather
than a vulgar attempt at re-creation.
So too the dense and grinding take on Patsy Cline's
'Stop The World'. Two and a bit minutes of raucous fun.
The late-night, low (very low!) voiced, performance of Mr Presley's
'Are You Lonesome Tonight', with its echoing barroom piano and
reedy electric organ, creates an atmosphere of warm-hearted,
slightly intoxicated affection (with just a little dread mixed in!)
It's a very brave man indeed who'd choose to take on Leonard Cohen's
'Suzanne'. Mr Hinson does so and has no cause to be ashamed of
the final result. He fully captures the raw, nervous energy of
the original. The effect is somehow both sacred and profane.
You're probably getting my drift by now, so I
shan't press on with a track-by-track dissection.
Mr Hinson has concocted something both viscerally
honest and singularly peculiar here.
Trust me - it's a grower !