Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Music Box: Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs

I must have been a really good person in another life. Because how else do you explain the ongoing collaboration between power-pop ambassadors Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, who are back "Under the Covers" this month for a new collection of songs from the 1970s (swoon!). Like 2006's '60s-heavy "Volume 1," Sid 'n' Susie showcase their eclectic tastes, picking just the right number of hit songs and obscure gems, to create an album that's equal parts singalong and discovery. (I fear for anyone who can't appreciate this duo's love of all things music.)

The second time around is equally infectious, but what I find different is that on "Volume 1," classics like "Monday, Monday" and "The Warmth of the Sun" kind of paled in comparison to songs that were new to me, like "I See the Rain" by the Marmalade, "Care of Cell #44" by the Zombies and "She May Call You Up Tonight" by the Left Banke. Whereas this time around, biggies like Fleetwood Mac's "Second Hand News," Bread's "Everything I Own" and the Raspberries' "Go All the Way" swept me off my feet, while unfamiliar songs like "Sugar Magnolia" and "I've Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People" fared less well. (It's fitting that I would learn -- after the fact -- that those are Grateful Dead and Yes songs, two groups I've never had any knowledge much less affinity for!) That said, one of my favorites on the new disc actually is one I didn't know -- "Bell Bottom Blues," written by Eric Clapton during his Derek and the Dominos (WHAT a great song -- and Susanna's voice makes me weak every time -- the woman can do no wrong, "The Allnighter" notwithstanding). The album has 16 songs and I haven't even mentioned the spirited versions of "Here Comes My Girl" (watch your back, Mr. Petty!) and "Couldn't I Just Tell You" (ALL Todd Rundgren songs should be sung by these two -- their "Hello, It's Me" KICKS ASS, too!), Susanna's you-know-she's-talking-about Donovan Leitch version of "You're So Vain" or her take on "Maggie May" that's destined to become a lesbian classic (watch YOUR backs, Indigo Girls).

The '70s are remembered for all types of music -- album-oriented rock, the singer/songwriters movement, disco, New Wave, punk, etc. -- and given their obvious affection for the era, it must have been excruciating narrowing down their list. Fortunately, the post-CD world of music does afford us one bonus. The Amazon and iTunes download versions of "Under the Covers, Volume 2" include 10 (yes, TEN!) bonus tracks (apparently they both have home recording studios, so why not?), and it's on this "disc" that they begin to delve into "my" music, with Susanna taking at stab at "Dreaming" (Blondie!!!), "I Wanna Be Sedated" (Ramones), "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding" (Elvis Costello),"You Say You Don't Love Me" (Buzzcocks) and, best of all, a true-to-the-original 10-minute version of Television's epic "Marquee Moon." It's a bonus, all right. And it just makes me champ at the bit thinking about what they might do on an '80s-inspired "Under the Covers, Volume 3." Sid doing "James"? Susie doing "Girlfriend"? The possibilities! Until then, I've got tickets to see my favorite duo AGAIN in the fall and I've already died and gone to retro-heaven.

You can check tour dates and listen to some of the album HERE.

New tracks
Nightlife Lyrics
Karl Wolf
She Likes That Lyrics
Bow Wow
Mama Filipina Lyrics
Addicted To Money Lyrics
Lil Scrappy
Highway To Love Lyrics
Complete Me Lyrics
Successful Lyrics
Soulja Boy
Heard Em All Lyrics
My Man Lyrics
Jade Ewen
Everybody Hurts Lyrics
Avril Lavigne
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dishy said...

Hey Kenneth - you should search out Cher's version of Bell Bottom Blues from her 1975 classic Lp STARS - it will blow you away. Great post I am interested in both releases now! BTW it's CHOMP at the bit - sorry!

Mark L said...

I saw them together a couple of weeks ago at the Nokia, in LA, doing an amazing acoustic set. After the show they both stayed around and autographed anything the fans brought and took photos. Both seemed like really cool folks.

Devon Reed said...

Matthew's new track on the Songs from the Big Top is pretty cool, too.