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on 19 June 2000
A collection of cover versions might suggest a paucity of ideas but it would be more accurate to label this as 'The Transformations Record' such is the radical way Chan Marshall deconstructs and reinterprets these songs. This tendency is illustrated by the opening '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'. While Devo had turned The Rolling Stones' slurred howl of grievance into a mechanised, emotionless recital, Marshall imbues it with an understated sense of tragedy. Similarly, 'I Found A Reason' provides a contrast from Lou Reed's dry, ironic delivery as, accompanied by a solitary piano, the song becomes a fervent hymn filled with yearning. Wilfuly perverse, Marhsall even covers one of her own songs, 'In This Hole'.
The entire album makes for uncomfortable listening; on 'Troubled Waters, she appears to be grappling with demons. The uncluttered instrumentation, such as the blues-style guitar-picking of 'Salty Dog', helps to focus attention upon her hushed but emotion-ladened voice. Another dalliance with Bill Callahan, 'Red Apples', is marginally less breathtaking than her version of 'Bathysphere' on the earlier 'What Would The Community Think' but his stark songs are ideally suited to Marshall's vocal style. Yet in these strengths lie her weakness. Although her mournful delivery adds pathos to the vaguely optimistic songs like 'I Found A Reason' and 'Sea of Love', it does make the album's mood one-dimensional.
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Cat Power, a.k.a. Chan Marshall, has made some brilliant records herself (Moon Pix, You Are Free, What Would the Community Think), it was 'The Covers Record' that brought her to many's attention. Recorded in 1998 & 1999, 'The Covers Record' is fairly lo-fi stuff, Marshall alone with a guitar or piano.
The 12-songs are all wonderful, and belong to both a great-tradition of cover-versions (Low's 'Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me', Cowboy Junkies' 'Sweet Jane', Galaxie 500's 'Ceremony', Spacemen 3's 'Transparent Radiation', Luna's 'Indian Summer') & a great tradition of covers-records (Famous Blue Raincoat, Music for Parties, I'll Take Care of You, Wrecking Ball, Johnny Cash's American Recordings). It opens with a rock'n'roll standard which you'd think was close to cliche - Jagger/Richards' '(I Can't Get No)Satisfaction' - a song that had arguably been definitively covered by Devo! Marshall approaches the song in a minimal-bluesy style reminiscent of those early PJ Harvey demo-albums & throws the listener some more by not bothering with the chorus! Similarly the version of Nina Simone's 'Wild is the Wind'- already perfectly covered by David Bowie on 'Station to Station' - is absolutely divine, a total heartbreaker...
Other highlights include Moby Grape's 'Naked If I Want To', The Velvet Underground's 'I Found a Reason', easy listening classic 'Sea of Love', Smog's 'Red Apples' & Dylan's 'Paths of Victory.' There are several tracks that I'm not familiar with- 'Sweedeedee', 'Troubled Waters', & the traditional songs 'Salty Dog' & 'Kingsport Town'- so the record reminds me of cover albums like Mark Lanegan's 'I'll Take Care of You' or Dylan's 'World Gone Wrong' - covering songs I don't even know! Marshall cannily plays with the notion of the covers record, by covering her own 'In This Hole' from 'What Would the Community Think'!
'The Covers Record' is one of the great covers records and one of the many great records from she we call Cat Power...
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on 15 December 2014
I bought this after hearing the wonderful track 'Troubled Waters' at the end of an NT production of 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Not all of the tracks are to my taste, but overall I'm very pleased - moody, moving music and a beautifully mellow voice
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on 18 December 2014
Vinyl pressing is OK - not special, and basic inner, sleeve etc. Album is as you know - a mix of 5 stars standouts - (satisfaction, naked) and some ho-hum drift along strummers. Worth getting, but not essential on vinyl
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VINE VOICEon 17 August 2005
Clearly of the Less Is More faith, Cat Power spent two years stripping back to nearly nothing this esoteric set of covers, exposing their bare essence and reinventing them as minimalist sound sculptures.

Getting the makeovers are songs associated with Bob Dylan (Kingsport Town, Paths Of Victory), the Rolling Stones (Satisfaction), Helen Merrill (Troubled Waters), Moby Grape (Naked If I Want To), Michael Hurley (Sweedeedee), Velvet Underground (I Found A Reason), Nina Simone (Wild Is The Wind), Smog (Red Apples), Mississippi John Hurt (Salty Dog - with extract of Candy Man), Phil Phillips and the Twi-Lights (Sea Of Love) and Chan Marshall (her alter-ego) on In This Hole.
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on 13 April 2008
I arrived at Cat Power from her two tracks on the WKW soundtrack for 'My Blueberry Nights'. Inspired by what I heard I ordered her catalogue from Amazon. It is arriving in instalments and so this is my first 'full' experience of what Cat Power is all about. Having played the CD ten times since it arrived yesterday I can say with absolute clarity that this is a CD of great worth and utmost originality; a rare CD that actually contributes and shapes the greater musical consciousness - that is the antithesis to the majority of 'music' that either stalls progress or reverses it. And all this from an album of covers; singing the words of others. Amazing. The strength of this CD lies in three areas, firstly in the choice of her song selection, secondly obviously in her voice and thirdly in the desire the singer has to say something, to make a statement, to add her wash of colour over some pretty well-painted tunes. To follow up on the last point, what she succeeds in doing is essentially erasing that which went before and starting anew. Take for example track #1, the Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction'. The idea of covering that is a pretty daunting one, how does one make it original, yet pay homage to one of the worlds' most listened to songs? an enigma of immense difficulties. Yet, what she has done is to take that song, and to make it her own, and dare I say it (as with other tracks), she has actually BETTERED the original. Bettered the original of 'Satisfaction'? - I would argue so. She has achieved the impossible. And she has achieved all this with a very sultry, down-tempo offering which would be easy to mistake for elevator music or filler if you weren't properly paying attention.

I would suggest that if you have arrived at this page, they you should not hesitate to buy this CD, I can't see how anyone with a genuine interest in either music - real music, or self-expressive musical artists, could not find this CD anything other than enthralling and enigmatically wondrous.

Personal favourites:
Track #1 (I can't get no) Satisfaction
Track #2 Kingsport Town

N.B. People often draw the mis-conclusions between Cat Power and Natalie Merchant or Feist. Whilst I love all three I think there are no real similarities, save the quirky female and the penchant for good ballads. Each one has their own style and should not be 'boxed' or compared.
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on 16 January 2015
Searched for this after hearing Troubled Waters, nobody can say she doesn't have her own sound.
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on 20 November 2015
Great condition
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on 2 February 2014
A good album of covers, but I prefer Jukebox. Cat Power brings some very different interpretations to some classic songs.
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on 2 August 2006
Hideous karaoke covers. If this lot turned up down yer local pub you'd chuck summat at 'em 'til they went away. Did no-one notice that the piano (and most of the other instruments) needed tuning? Or did they pay someone specially to un-tune it?

Note to band: just 'cos you play something slowly and out-of-tune doesn't make it mean more... Drabness and charisma are in no way equivalent...
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