This is a much needed release that compiles a collection of six two track singles that have become very hard to find and much sought after. I'm glad Steven Wilson has chosen to re-release this music and given those who missed out on the originals a chance to hear one of his most obscure releases.
This collection of songs exhibits several sides of Steven Wilson that are often absent in the majority of his work. Although he has released three solo albums to date, it is only in this release that he performs entirely on his own (no guest musicians/band members here). Perhaps because of this, the album has a far less 'grandiose' sound. Several of his songs are led by simple piano or strummed acoustic guitar. Perhaps to fit alongside the nature of the six cover versions, his original material is in a similar vein. That is, his music sticks largely to the 3-4 minute 'pop-song' format. Of course there are a few noticeable exceptions; particularly the eerie 'The Unquiet Grave' (actually a traditional English folk song interpreted in typical Wilson style). Also noticeable, is that the music here is far less melancholic than I have come to expect from Wilson (again with exceptions!).
Steven Wilson's choice of covers may come as a surprise; Alanis Morissette, Abba, The Cure, Momus, Prince and Donovan. His cover's aren't always as good as the originals, but they certainly are different. If there's one track that really shone for me, it was his cover of Abba's 'The Day Before You Came'. I cant say that everything here is five-star material, but even his weaker material is very different from the rest of his work and acts as a fitting testament to one of rocks most varied and under appreciated talents. The best material on this album is certainly worth owning and for that alone I would recommend this album even to those who are not familiar with Steven Wilson's previous material.
Stunning album. I cannot say that one track is weak. He has shown great respect to the original songs yet, somehow, added his own flavour in such a way as to "better" the originals. "The Guitar Lesson" is one of his finest moments. Truly haunting and beautiful. "Sign O The Times" shocked me. It starts a little too timidly but you feel hooked from the start, then BANG a raw guitar sound to shatter the best speakers. Onto his own tracks and I have to say "Moment I Lost" is a superb nod to Pink Floyd, with delicious guitar. "Well you're wrong" is a truly delightful song.
I love this album from start to finish and, although I have highlighted a few, trust me, it is a classic from end to end.
There's some arresting stuff here...notably the opener. Few of those songs that are covered have been truly owned by SW as a result but he's certainly dressed them in his own clothes for a time. Probably for the fans rather than those looking to take on SW for the first time.
How I regret not knowing Porcupine Tree when they were still gigging. Did see this man on Hand... tour and it was superb. This adds even more variety to his body of work but it's all still identifiably him. Interesting sleeve notes about the genesis of the project, he's always interesting when talking about music, the only musician I follow on FB.
Always good to have some new material from SW. Even if it's old material that was previously darned hard to get a hold of. It's an album of 2 halves, and other reviewers have gone into some detail on material and choices, so I won't repeat.
What I will say is that this is every bit the stripped-down experiment that SW describes it to be in his liner notes. Some tracks work better than others, as you'd expect - especially as the source material is almost wantonly esoteric.
Where his voice is used as an instrument, the tracks come off best - as, pared down in a production, it can be (being brutally honest) a thin-sounding, nasal affair. The more experimentation, the better - for me. So, 'A Forest' and 'The Unquiet Grave' will probably bear the most repeat listens. For me.
And hearing Steve cover a Momus track is a very curious experience. Whereas Mr Currie emits a dangerous and edgy persona behind an effete, sexualised delivery, SW just seems like too nice a chap to make good on the Lolita-like threat behind the lyric. It doesn't mar the experience, it's just a bit of a head-scratcher.
His original compositions here bear closest affinity with his earlier Blackfield output. Not a bad thing. Just to give you an idea.
To summarise, the whole is a curio, and every bit as good as you might expect. The homespun feel of it is at once its USP (Steve, Steve and only Steve) and its Achilles heel. It simply doesn't have the depth of a 'Raven' or the production values or sonic pallette of a 'Blank Planet'. It's charming, I suppose. But I can't give it 5 stars because the tone of it isn't magnificent, merely very good indeed.
I realise this was something of an 'interim' album made from offshoots and bin-ends, but I felt a little short changed here. I love what Wilson has achieved and how he has forged a solitary path through what is a miserable and unforgiving industry, but this could have been left behind I think. I know there is something personal about sharing your thoughts on other peoples songs and also expressing the unity of creation across all styles from ABBA to Prince, and I understand the idea of sharing that with your fans for whom this album was surely intended. However, I like how he fuses all these influences into his own material because that is what makes him unique, and perhaps I think we don't need to hear these re-workings as much as we need to hear more of his original work.
Another quality product from the master of modern progressive music. Steven Wilson is unashamedly pioneering a music genre which many had written off in the early 80's, and doing it brilliantly. His is an excellent writer, musician, and producer. On Cover Version he applies his take on some other peoples work, with great effect. I just love the acoustic version of (Abba's) The Day Before You Came. A great album.
Steven Wilson is a hidden gem and this album whilst not his finest is still top 🔝 notch by anyone else's standards… as others have said the stand out track is 'The day before you came' simply a masterpiece of a cover.