Set to be released at the end of March, Fully Re-Covered is a follow-up to The True Groove All-Stars’ hugely successful remix debut, Funky World and features 13 covers, some of them sounding quite familiar, the others retooled to such an extent that they are not easily recognisable. The songs were chosen both because of their popularity and how they encourage reflection on important topics.
Before recording the opening track—their version of Brinsley Schwarz’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”—last November, the members of the Tomás Doncker Band discussed their feelings about the rioting in Ferguson, Missouri following the acquittal of police officer Darren Wilson in the August killing of teenager Michael Brown. The band’s response was to appropriate this anthem and transform it into a statement of human solidarity. This version is very blues-and- jazz-influenced while almost keeping up with the original’s tempo. The deeper vocals make it into a caring and concerned track while the uptempo beat gives it an underlying vibe of hope.
The Neighbourhood’s track “Wires”, originally recorded as an electronic rock track with an almost creepy vibe, turns into a soulful and almost seductive cover featuring a pulsating beat and the near smoky vocals of Lael Summer, while the melody in the cover of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” stays true to the original, classic rock guitar-driven core. The opening repetitive chant, Kevin Jenkins’ gentle vocals, and the female-only choir backing vocals come as quite the attention-grabbing contrast.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” has been completely reimagined from the synthpop rock original to a slow, sultry R&B number featuring the seductive vocals of Heather Powell. Similarly, Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual”, an upbeat pop track, becomes a midtempo one, tamed down with the help of a throbbing bass and the almost shy vocals of Charlie Funk, reflecting the message behind the lyrics that the original’s horns can easily detract from.
The cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” stands out in this album as its grittiest and darkest offering. Samuel Clairborne’s vocals are deeper than Trent Reznor’s and while the original seems to come from the perspective of a victim, the cover seems to come from someone stronger, perhaps an older individual recovering from addiction and speaking of a past experience.
Covers are a delicate thing; attachment to the original might make even the most deserving of covers hated by fans. Ultimately it is a matter of taste, but listeners should make the time to check this album out because either they will find a cover of a beloved song that they like, or perhaps a song they never liked before will finally make it to their favorite list in this new form. More information about True Groove recordings can be found on both their Facebook page and their official website.