This is John Fryer of Black Needle Noise's latest album laden with choice and sometimes not so choice covers and is very much in the spirit of how his old band This Mortal Coil would take classic and obscure tunes and totally make them their own. This album has a whole retinue of guest singers, most of whom I have to admit I know very little about, that includes Pinky Turzo, Betty X, Tom Berger, Anjela Piccard and Rebecca Coseboom.
The album opens with the total re-imagining of Sonny & Cher's classic Bang Bang a song I almost always prefer as a reggae tune, so to hear it re-tuned and taken to a darker danker place in this full on claustrophobic goth brawl, that has some gentle percussion for the verses against the maelstrom of sound for the chorus, this version is closest to Mandragora Screams version rather than Tomorrows Children's take on it.
Next up is the dark re-working of What A Wonderful World that came out as a single in the summer, it still jumps out for being such a long way from the Louis Armstrong original while making us think in this most awful of years about all the things that make life wonderful and worth living especially when the song breaks down to an almost classical string build that mutates with drum and bass percussion ramping up the existential angst rather than the normal delight this tune may bring to you.
Magic takes a song I've hated for decades and turns it into a dark dancehall disco floor filler that's nowhere near as reprehensible and sickly sweet as the original by Olivia Neutron Bomb.
Black Magic is way better opening like Big Sexy Noise and then going darkly punky as they make sure we know how much they believe in magic.
They then Abandon the normal template to re-work Love Don't Live Here Anymore into a troubling EBM almost smooch fest, the strings sort accentuate the pathos in the lyrics perfectly so it's perfect to be heard in a club in a railway arch that might have once housed Rose Royce's carwash in it.
Walking In My Shoes was the song that originally sparked this project and this version again reminds me a bit of Mandragora Scream fused to the Depeche Mode original it has enough twists from the original to be more than a one away cover so to speak.
Changes is a cover of the Ozzy Osbourne song rather than the David Bowie one and is played similarly to the Kelley Osbourne hit of it, but with fuller production and more of a sense of being on a precipice and needing to find a way through it all to a better place.
Since hearing the single version of She Talks To Angels it's become one of the tunes I've had most stuck in my head this year which is no mean feat as I'm now approaching 200 album reviews for 2020. But this dark delicious take on the Black Crowes song is infectious and keeps me coming back to it again and again, it also sounds good on the work I-pod as much as the system here. It sounds as good now after probably 30 listens this year as it did when I first got the single to review earlier in the year. A must hear track and the album version is a minute longer than the single for extra fun.
They then take one of the R.E.M. songs I dislike the most, Losing My Religion and lift it from the torpor of the dead in the water original and make a swelling goth swirler that to me sounds sublime in comparison to the original that I'd be happy if I never heard again and only heard this version instead. It also benefits greatly from having female vocals from Rebecca Coseboom who has so much more feeling in her voice.
Let This Be The Night is a song I'm thankful that I don't recognize as even this version is rather sappy and a touch on the soppy side of the sort of thing I'd expect a boyband or Kylie Minogue to be singing, this is the least interesting song on the album for me.
The album closes with I Know What Boys Like that is far more like it, taking the old Waitresses song and re-working it almost in the style of Rachel Stamp or Scant Regard into a good dark maelstrom of desire and need to get on the dancefloor and make all the boys look at you as you prove you know what they like.
Find out more at https://blackneedlenoise.bandcamp.com/album/these-mortal-covers https://www.facebook.com/BlackNeedleNoise