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Monday, December 7, 2009


320 KBPS

Question : Why should you listen 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!

1. Slow and steady
2. This old guitar
3. Kiss me mother, kiss your darling
4. Not forever now
5. The times they are a changin'
6. Suzanne
7. We almost had a baby
8. My way
9. Sleepwalk
10. Runnin' scared
11. Stop the world
12. Are you lonesome tonight
13. In the pines
14. You didn't have to be so nice
15. Listen to me
16. While my guitar gently weeps

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