Various - BBC Radio 2 Sounds of the 80s
Another month, another BBC album of cover versions. If it’s not their now annual Radio 1 Live Lounge it’s Dermot O’Leary’s Saturday Sessions. This though, is the spiritual sequel to their Radio 1 - Established 1967 album from 2007. A collection of acts, new and old, putting their own spin (or not) on a classic song. This time the hook is the 80s and Sara Cox’s Sounds of the 80s show. As you’d expect the emphasis is on trendy acts - but with a Radio 2 slant - so instead of Tinie Tempah and David Guetta you get Ward Thomas and Rumer
So how does it all sound then? Well, it’s the usual mix of the dreadful, the pointless, and the actually surprisingly good. Let’s start with the bad news: Christina Perri makes the already awful ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ worse; the less said about Lisa Stansfield's cover of 'You're The Best Thing' the better; Kylie continues her journey into sub-Marilyn Monroe poutyness, and there’s a truly horrible version of ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ from The Voice winner Jermaine Jackman. Mostly though its cover versions by numbers, the worst culprits being Kaiser Chiefs and The Script. Competent, they just don’t need to exist.
There are successes: Sam Smith’s version of ‘How Will I Know’ is beautiful and moving; Birdy reinvents ‘Lucky Star’ for the better; Caro Emerald does the impossible, making ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ interesting and fresh. Even Ed Sheeran successfully Ed Sheerans Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’ The biggest shock? James Blunt building on his recent Twitter rehabilitation with a beautiful and haunting reading of ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’.
This is the kind of album playlists were built to replace.