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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review: The Bird and the Bee: "Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates"

If, to you, the neo-jazz/pop stylings of The Bird and the Bee seem like an unlikely fit for the music of Hall and Oates, welcome to the club.  My first thought when I saw that one of my favorite new groups of the last few years would be covering an entire album of "the masters'" music was one of complete bewilderment.  But once I began listening to the end result, my fears were put to rest.  The first few notes of "Heard it on the Radio" say it all: this is a Bird and the Bee album!  Simply put, the duo has done a fantastic job of taking these classic and instantly-recognizable songs and filtering them through their own unique style.

The lead-off track is a gorgeous song that is just as catchy as one would expect.  It's bouncy digital production is reminiscent of some of Bird and the Bee's earlier stuff, but the 70s disco vibe sets it apart from the band's other tracks.  It eases any fears that a skeptical listener may have and proves that even though many may not understand why the group chose to make this album, they at least know what they are doing.  "Rich Girl" is just as exciting.  I could easily see a bunch of teen girls (or hipsters for that matter) singing along to this song and not realizing that it's a cover of a much older song.  That says a lot about how perfectly a lot of these songs are constructed and presented.

"The duo has done a fantastic job of taking these classic and instantly-recognizable songs and filtering them through their own unique style."

For the most part, Interpreting the Masters is a flawless cover album, if such a thing can even exist.  Still, some songs, though good, can't hold their own to the original recording.  Specifically, "She's Gone" lacks the earnestness and power of the original.  Instead, it comes off as plastic and unassured - the standard trappings of a cover song.  Truthfully, this could just be how Hall and Oates' ballads come off because the same can be said for "Sarah Smiles" and "One on One," which just come off as ineffective.   Are they solid covers?  Sure, but they still leave a lot to be desired.

The best tracks on the album are the upbeat songs that we've all heard before.  "Private Eyes" and "Kiss on My List" are just as awesome as they have always been and - depending on your generation - just as corny as well.  Listeners, whether new or unaccustomed to the music of Hall and Oates should find most of their enjoyment out of these and the other fun songs on the album.  As the title suggests though, Interpreting the Masters is very much a passion project for The Bird and the Bee, so it should be taken more as a casual diversion than an actual addition to the group's catalog of quality music.  With that in mind, it's hard to be disappointed with what we're presented with here.  The group has done Hall and Oates proud while simultaneously making something enjoyable for generations who have no idea who those two dudes are.  Not bad.

Key Tracks:
1. "Heard it on the Radio"
2. "Rich Girl"
3. "Maneater"
4. "Kiss on my List"
5. "Private Eyes"

7 out of 10 Stars

2 comments:

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