Thursday, November 5, 2009

Plagiarism (1997)

So after the success of Gratuitous Sax, they decided to try to cash in on their legacy by releasing an album of rerecordings of old songs. That may be a cynical way to put it, but it was a pretty savvy move--a way to draw in both newbies and long-time fans, potentially.

I have to say, though, I find it mostly pretty underwhelming. First, it must be asked: Why do we possibly need two new versions each of "This Town," "No. 1 Song in Heaven," and "Something for the Girl with Everything?" It disrupts the album's flow--who wants to hear the same song twice, neither version all that revelatorily, on the same album? Hmph.

But that's not really the biggest issue--the biggest issue is that most of the rerecordings just aren't that interesting. I mean, they're still fine songs, obviously, but if you know the originals, there's nothing all that thrilling here. The best, for my money, are a couple of numbers, "Angst in My Pants" and "Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat," that were somewhat marginal the first time and now are--well, much better. It's also strange but somewhat cool that they chose to redo the obscure instrumental "Big Brass Ring." But eh…did we really need a version of "Amateur Hour" with nineties techno trappings? Survey sez…no. The slightly faster version of "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth" is okay, but it is not sublime. The original is sublime. And the rest of the album goes more or less along the same lines. They would have done well to include more in the way of deep cuts, but I suppose if the idea was partially to reel in newbies, that might have been counterproductive. Regardless, as it stands, I have a hard time really recommending Plagiarism to anyone but hardcore fans.

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