The Beautiful South have always had a knack for satire. Their style bordered on easy listening, but their songs were always about serious personal stuff.
After a string of albums and a greatest hits collection, they're back. This time they're covering other people's songs - and what an odd selection.
They open with "You're the one that I want", delivering it at such a rocking-chair on-the-front-porch-after-two-beers speed that you might not recognise it at first. If the original was all teenage lust, this cover is contented, sun soaked and faintly middle aged. ELO's "Living thing" is, however, vastly improved - the original mindless 70s kitsch arrangements are stripped out to reveal the lush, achy song beneath. Likewise, Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't fear the reaper" shines in its new, less ornate form. Their vaguely sinister version of S Club 7's "Don't stop moving" is lovely, liquid and stylish.
But the rest of the CD doesn't work nearly so well. The cheesily modulating Zombies cover "This will be our year" isn't as charming without their jazziness. And the overly upfront vocals give the impression they're performing it cabaret style for a school concert (catering to those with hearing difficulties.)
Their duet cover of "Ciao" from indie shoegazers Lush, also in cabaret mode, is one of the less well known choices. But it couldn't be much more removed from Lush's scratchy style. And this trend of completely remaking the music persists.
The result: The Beautiful South have made a record that almost everyone will hate at least half of. Fans of each (very different) band will miss their favourites' styles. What's Rufus Wainwright's Rebel Prince without his operatic baroque? Can you sing The Ramones with lilting vocals?
What's interesting about Goldiggas is precisely what's most horrible about it. The bland-but-trendy 80s radio pop makeover the Beautiful South have given each songs strips all the individualised trappings from them, leaving only the bare bones of the song that inspired their original work as a band.
If you are a fan of Beautiful South, you'll find their experiment pleasant. If not, this is a very interesting, but ultimately awful, covers album.- Jean Barker
WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAIDTo these ears it's magic, but to just as many others it'll be an abomination.- Nigel Bell for BBC Nottingham
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