BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
As the latest entry in a series of nods to pop classics of past eras, Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs’ Under the Covers Vol. 3 puts the focus on material crafted by a variety of ‘80s icons — from Tom Petty, The Smiths and REM, to XTC, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Roxy Music. As always, the pair don’t mess with the melodies or alter the arrangements simply to suit their own egos. Rather, they opt to replicate the remarkable hooks and ringing refrains inherent in the original renditions. Adept at detail, they even capture that distinctive guitar “ping” in the Pretender’s “Kid” and dare to imagine a Bangle (Hoffs) tackling a song by the band’s main feminine competition (the Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed”).
Consequently, in listening to Sweet and Hoffs’ cheery takes on Dave Edmunds’ giddy “Girls Talk,” the English Beat’s impossibly catchy “Save It For Later” and the Roxy’s sensual and seductive “More Than This,” it’s easy to be struck by the celebratory tone that dominates the proceedings overall. It’s an indication that these two aren’t simply interpreters, but also fans and admirers of the material they’re tapping into. Mainly though, it’s evidence of great taste, given their admirable choice of tunes As a result, these 14 songs sound as wholly irresistible now as they did when they were such an essential part of a soundtrack for a now-distant decade.
DOWNLOAD: “Save It For Later,” “More Than This,” “Girls Talk”